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Charges Against Rochester Woman Who Videotaped Police Dismissed

June 27th, 2011 by Mickey Osterreicher

Emily Good, the Rochester social activist who was arrested while she videotaped Rochester police performing a traffic stop from the front lawn of her home had all charges against her dropped today. Ms. Good was charged with NYS Criminal Procedure Law § 195.05 – Obstructing governmental administration in the second degree, whereby a
“person is guilty of obstructing governmental administration when [s]he intentionally obstructs, impairs or perverts the administration of law or other governmental function or prevents or attempts to prevent a public servant from performing an official function, by means of intimidation, physical force or interference, or by means of any independently unlawful act . . . .” Obstructing governmental administration is a class A misdemeanor.

Reports say that the legal question was: did the evidence satisfy the elements of the crime charged under NYS law? Accordingly, prosecutors would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms. Good used “intimidation, physical force or interference” to disrupt the police traffic stop. Since she was 10 to 15 feet from the police and doing nothing to interfere with police other than videotaping the People would not have been able to meet their burden.

Last week NPPA general counsel, Mickey Osterreicher sent a letter to the Rochester Mayor and Police Chief objecting to her arrest and requesting that all charges be dropped. He also requested that the police begin an investigation into the matter which both the Mayor and Chief agreed to do. The incident was covered extensively by the media and seen widely on YouTube.

See: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/20110627/NEWS01/110627014.

There has been a recent increase in these types incidents involving the arrest and/or detention of photographers exercising their First Amendment rights. NPPA has been involved in some of them, which have occured in Baltimore, MD, Miami Beach, Fl, Fort Lauderdale, FL, Buffalo, NY and Washington, DC.

Posted in Access, First Amendment, Legal, photographers | No Comments »

City of Ft. Lauderdale Agrees to Uphold Right to Take Pictures in Public

June 21st, 2011 by Alicia Calzada and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The City of Ft. Lauderdale agreed on Monday not to interfere with photographers taking pictures near the set of the film “Rock of Ages.” At an emergency hearing in state court, the NPPA joined the South Florida Gay News and the Society of Professional Journalists as plaintiffs against the City, which had erected signs banning photography in public areas near a movie set. According to area photographer and activist Carlos Miller, at least one photographer was issued a citation for taking pictures from a public garage.

The Agreed Court Order states that the city:

“shall not prohibit or inhibit the taking of photographs at or from any public area surrounding, near or adjacent to the film set of the production of the film, “Rock of Ages. For the purposes of this order, the term “public area” shall includ any area where members of the public have a right to be, but shall not include areas that have been lawfully closed to access by members of the public.”

The movie, starring Tom Cruise and Catherine Zeta-Jones is being filmed in downtown Ft. Lauderdale, and the city had posted several signs in public areas stating that photography was strictly prohibited, even though those same areas were open to the public.

Some area photographers staged a protest on Friday drawing publicity to the illegal ban, and news organizations reported that the signs were removed, but police were still enforcing the ban.

According to the Gay South Florida News, one of the other plaintiffs in the suit, the city denied that it was interfering with the right to take pictures. However, the plaintiffs offered to provide witnesses to the contrary.

Though the injunction is in place, the plaintiffs intend to proceed with the lawsuit seeking a declaration that the city acted illegally.

A detailed report of hearing along with pictures, is available at the website www.journoterrorist.com.

NPPA will continue to provide updates as the lawsuit progresses.

The Agreed Order can be downloaded by clicking here.

Posted in Access, First Amendment, Florida, law, photographers, photojournalism, trespass | No Comments »

Why Journalists Should Dump Twitpic Now

June 13th, 2011 by Alicia Calzada and tagged , , , , , , ,

You may remember how last year AFP and Getty sued Daniel Morel, claiming that by posting photos on Twitpic, he had given them permission to use the images. A court ruled that he hadn’t, despite the onerous rights-grabbing Twitpic terms of service. While I always believed that AFP/Getty would lose, because they had no affiliate relationship with Twitpic, I remember wondering how long it would be before a photo agency partnered with Twitpic to monetize the Twitpic terms. I thought that if Twitpic had retained permission to sell images posted on their site, it was a small wonder that no agency had partnered with them to make money selling these images. Well, that day has come.

While Twitpic is not the first social networking company with grabby terms of service, last month there was an important announcement. World Entertainment News Network (WENN) has become Twitpic’s “exclusive photo agency partner.

  • From their Terms of Service:

by submitting Content to Twitpic, you hereby grant Twitpic a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and Twitpic’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels.   [  http://www.twitpic.com/terms.do

  • From the New York Times:

World Entertainment News Network, a news and photo agency, announced this month that it had become the “exclusive photo agency partner” of Twitpic, a service with over 20 million registered users that allows people to upload images and link to them on Twitter. The deal allows the agency to sell images posted on Twitpic for publication”

Together that means that anything posted through twitpic is fair game to be licensed for a profit without your knowing or seeing any of it.

Why this is bad for photojournalists

  • If you are a staffer at a newspaper, you don’t own the copyright to the images you shoot on the job. You may accidentally be giving away your company’s photos and getting yourself in a whole lot of legal trouble (each of these TOS contain indemnification clauses so if your company sues, you might end up involved and even liable).
  • if you are an independent photographer, posting images to Twitpic is the equivalent to giving your photos to an agency and not asking for any payment or promise of royalties. WENN can make thousands of dollars off of your pictures and they don’t have to give you a dime. While you still retain licensing rights, a potential user is more likely to just go to an agency. They certainly won’t be thinking about how they can make sure you get paid.

Why is this a big deal now?

Social networking sites have had rights-grabbing terms like the Twitpic terms for years, but this is the first time I have heard of any of them openly trying to use those terms to profit from those images beyond the scope of the service itself.  News organizations have certainly used images from social networking sites, but it is not usually clear how or if they have received permission or paid a licensing fee. However, Twitpic is perfectly clear: they make a profit, you don’t.

The Quick Fix

Fortunately there is an easy fix for twitpic. Follow the lead of celebrities like Ellen Degeneres and take your photos off now. There are several alternative sites that will host your images to post on twitter without onerous terms.

– yfrog is integrated with twitter and easy to connect to from your twitter account. Their policy is simple: “ImageShack will not sell or distribute your content to third parties or affiliates without your permission.”

– MobyPicture is another service that has similar terms.

If you are a staffer, be sure to check with your employer about their social networking policies regardless of what service you use. News organizations are in love with social media and are pushing their employees to use it, but they should all be creating policies and preferences. With the latest Twitpic move, it would behoove news organizations to create a list of social networking options that don’t put the company’s content at risk.

Twitter itself is starting to add picture sharing to its service. The twitter terms are as onerous as Twitpic, and they are even more straightforward about their intentions, noting that posting to Twitter gives them the right “to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with Twitter for the syndication, broadcast, distribution or publication of such Content on other media and services.”

Posted in contracts, copyright, law, photographers, photojournalism, students | No Comments »