Man photographing Glacier National Park winter scene. The Ansel Adams Act would return restore first amendment rights to photographers on public lands. ©tonybynum.com
Exert from the bill: "Prohibition on Fees, Permits, or Insurance.--No Federal Government agency shall require fees, permits or insurance as a condition to take still or moving images on Federal lands, National Parks and Forests, and public spaces, whether for private, media, or commercial use. (d) Prohibition on the Seizure and Forfeiture of Photographic Equipment.--Federal law enforcement officers or private contractors shall not seize any photographic equipment or their contents or memory cards or film, and shall not order a photographer to erase the contents of a camera or memory card or film"
As a photographer this interests me a great deal. Years ago I tried to make the argument that the Professional Outdoor Media Association ( the only national traditional outdoor media organization, and I honorably and proudly serve as an executive member of the Board of Directors), should push the first amendment rights of photographers when our "rights" are infringed. Much like the National Rifle Association pushes the constitution rights of Americans to own guns. I was denied support in exchange for my support of a bill that would require photographers and videographers to pay a yearly fee for access to our public lands for filming and photography. That bill never became law, although Murkoski of Alaska introduced the bill and Montana's senator John Tester worked hard crafting it.
Today, there's a new bill that shall be referred to as the, "Ansel Adams Act." Its purpose is to return first amendment, constitutionally based rights back to photographers. While the bill does not address video and it will have to define the word "photography" so there's no confusion, it's a step in the right direction. Technology is changing everything and unless our laws keep up with the changing world, we will continue to lose rights, and congress will continue to build it's power over us in exchange for big money from special interests.
I would like the bill to go a step further and add some language about video and the number of people that can be grouped together. In the past, regulations have applied to two or more people leaving being outdoors collecting digital media to the pursuits of a single person acting alone.
If you would like to read the short bill, you'll find the bill, the "Ansel Adams Act," at this address.
I recommend you contact your house and senate members and refer them to the Ansel Adams Act by showing that you support this bill. Share the bill broadly via social media, and if you have the time and capacity, write about it on your own blog.
How do you feel about this bill? Does it make sense, would you support it?