April 23rd, 2013 by Joan Blazich and tagged Access, Anti-Paparazzi Statute, Assembly Member Richard Bloom, California, Constitution, first amendment, free speech, journalism, legislation, Mickey Osterreicher, national press photographers association, NPPA, Paparazzi, photographer, photographers, photography, photojournalism, recording, trespassing, video
*** UPDATE *** In the wake of opposition from NPPA and other groups the CA Assembly Judiciary Committee made both AB-1256 and AB-1356 “2 year bills.” A 2 year bill is one which will not move out of the policy committee this year. It is eligible to be taken up again at the beginning of the 2nd year of the biennial session thus the term “2 year bill.” In January, the Legislature will hear all bills introduced in the 1st year and those that pass muster will begin to move through the process. This is very significant because every other anti-paparazzi bill that has been introduced has flown through the Legislature. This is the first time one has been held up. While the AB-1256 and AB-1356 are not dead, this indicates the sponsors may have a difficult time getting out of Judiciary in January.
The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) today sent a letter to California Assembly Member Richard Bloom opposing two recently filed anti-paparazzi statutes that he sponsored. The NPPA was joined by twenty-six other organizations in sending this letter, including the Associated Press Media Editors, Digital Media Law Project at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Bloomberg News, North Jersey Media Group Inc., The New Yorker, E.W. Scripps Company, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Society of Professional Journalists, Radio Television Digital News Association, The Associated Press, National Public Radio, Inc., The McClatchy Company, Reuters News, Time Inc., The Washington Post, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Picture Archive Council of America, Cox Media Group, American Society of News Editors, California Newspapers Partnership, The First Amendment Coalition, Courthouse News Service, The Newspaper Guild, Communications Workers of America, Association of Alternative Newsmedia and San Francisco Bay Media Associates.
The letter is written in opposition to proposed bill AB-1256, “An act to amend Section 1708.8 of, and to add Section 1708.9 to, the Civil Code, relating to civil law.” Proposed bill AB-1256 would expand upon California’s constructive invasion of privacy law. The letter also expresses opposition to AB-1356, “An act to amend Section 1708.7 of the Civil Code, relating to stalking,” which would enhance California’s anti-paparazzi statutes.
“We believe the creation of a civil cause of action for the “constructive invasion of privacy” is overly broad and vague and imposes greater civil penalties upon otherwise protected forms of speech and expression,” wrote Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for NPPA. Osterreicher continued, “We are also concerned that remedies for invasion of privacy and trespass are already properly addressed by current California statutes and that statutory and punitive damages will further chill free speech and create uncertainty about liability.” “Additionally,” stated Osterreicher, “the definition of “commercial purposes” fails to distinguish those acts done for valid newsgathering purposes and in fact penalizes publishers and broadcasters along with visual journalists and members of the public with a camera.”
In the letter Osterreicher cites recent Supreme Court cases which support NPPA’s position that AB-1256 and AB-1356 are unconstitutional, including U.S. v. Stevens, 559 U.S. ___, 130 S. Ct. 1577 (2010) (holding the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010 unconstitutional); California v. Superior Court of California (Raef), Case No. BS140861 (holding California statute AB-2479, an anti-paparazzi statute, unconstitutional); and Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 665 (1972) (holding that “without some protection for seeking out the news, freedom of the press could be eviscerated”).
In another related matter a California assembly member withdrew his proposed “ag-gag” bill hours before it was to be considered at a scheduled hearing.
The measure, AB-343, sponsored by Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, originally imposed a “duty to report animal cruelty” that would have required “any person who willfully or knowingly photographs, records or videotapes animal cruelty . . .” to “submit all original photographs, recordings or video to local law enforcement and the owner of the animal(s) or a representative of the owner within forty eight hours of taking such photographs, recordings or video.”
NPPA and other groups opposed the bill as violating the Shield Law provisions of the California Constitution and Code of Evidence; as well as being unconstitutional under the First, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments in that it abridged free speech and press and constituted an unreasonable seizure lacking in due process.
“The NPPA is very proud to have the support of so many state and national organizations in its fight against these ongoing First Amendment erosions,” said NPPA President Mike Borland. “We hope that lawmakers around the country will realize that there is a better way to address their constituent’s concerns than to propose unconstitutional bills,” he added.
Posted in ag-gag, anti-paparazzi, California, First Amendment, First Amendment rights, National Press Photographers Association, News Photography, Newsgathering, NPPA, Paparazzi, photographers, Photographers' Rights, photojournalism, Recording, Regulations limiting photography | No Comments »
February 14th, 2013 by Joan Blazich and tagged first amendment, free speech, government, journalism, Mickey Osterreicher, national press photographers association, NPPA, open government, photographers, photography, photojournalism, photojournalist, public information, sunshine week
The National Press Photographer’s Association (NPPA) is participanting in Sunshine Week, March 10-16, 2013, along with a number of other organizations, led by cosponsors – the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) and the American Society of News Editors (ASNE). Sunshine Week is a national initiative which was launched by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors in 2002. “Sunshine Sunday” (as it was named) was a response to attempts by the Florida legislature to limit the state’s public records law. In 2003, ASNE expanded that initiative by hosting a Freedom of Information Summit in Washington which has now expanded to a weeklong event promoting the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know.
As part of NPPA’s participation, general counsel Mickey Osterreicher will moderate a panel discussion on Friday, March 15 regarding the right to photograph and record in public. Panelists will include Washington Metropolitan Police Department Public Information Officer Gwendolyn Crump; attorney Mary Borja of Wiley Rein LLP in Washington; freelance photojournalist and independent video producer Mannie Garcia; Linda Epstein, senior photo editor for McClatchy-Tribune Information Services and attorney Robert Corn-Revere of Davis Wright Tremaine.
That panel is part of the Shoot Off Visual Media Workshop will be held in Arlington, VA. The program presents the best speakers, mentors, editors and judges throughout the country, who volunteer for this prestigious event that aligns service members with the national press corps, industry leaders and veteran military photographers. These workshops are for all levels and provide professional development in helping to fill training gaps for photographers.
As another “first” NPPA members are encouraged to participate in Sunshine Week by contributing images of “open government” to the Sunshine Week toolkit. This toolkit is a free resource available to any Sunshine Week participant including professional and student journalists working in any medium; bloggers; civic and non-profit organizations; schools; and government officials (for activities related to open government only). NPPA members are encouraged to photograph their interpretation and submit those images for use in the toolkit. These “open government” photographs can be literal or artistic, big government or small, or even not government-related at all—the concept and interpretation is left entirely to the photographer.
Images should be shot and emailed to Debra Gersh Heranadez at firstname.lastname@example.org by March 7, 2013. Please include “NPPA Sunshine Week Submission” in the subject line. To see materials already available in the toolkit for use by participants in their Sunshine Week Coverage, visit: http://sunshineweek.rcfp.org/toolkit/.
By submitting images to the Sunshine Week toolkit, photographers grant permission for those images to be used by Sunshine Week participants only between March 10-16, 2013. No compensation will be given for materials submitted to the toolkit. All materials submitted to the toolkit will be used with appropriate attribution. Upon conclusion of Sunshine Week most items in the toolkit will be taken down except for those granting additional permission for them to remain on the site. Those submitting images also agree that the copyright remains the property of the photographer or employer of the photographer. All participants agree that by submitting images, photographers give permission to NPPA and Sunshine Week to reproduce submissions on the NPPA website as well as in the Sunshine Week Toolkit. Reasonable precautions will be taken to ensure security against unauthorized electronic reproduction.
To read more about the mission of Sunshine Week, visit http://sunshineweek.rcfp.org/.
Posted in American Society of News Editors, First Amendment, National Press Photographers Association, NPPA, Open Government, photographers, photojournalism, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Sunshine Week | No Comments »
October 22nd, 2012 by Joan Blazich and tagged Arrest, first amendment, free speech, journalism, journalist, national press photographers association, NPPA, NYPD, occupy wall street, photographers, photography, photojournalism, photojournalist, police, zuccotti park
Today the National Press Photographer’s Association (NPPA) announced that it was joining 5 elected officials and almost a dozen members of the press in a lawsuit against the New York Police Department (NYPD) and JP Morgan Chase. The lawsuit alleges that the City of New York, the MTA, the NYPD, Brookfield Properties, and JP Morgan Chase conspired to violate the First Amendment rights of press members who were arrested while covering the “Occupy Wall Street” protests. The amended complaint seeks both redress against police misconduct during these arrests and that a federal independent monitor be appointed to observe future NYPD incidents involving the press.
NPPA joins this lawsuit on behalf of its 7000 members, including Plaintiff Stephanie Keith. Recently awarded the Newswoman of the Year Award by the Newswoman’s Club of New York, Ms. Keith was arrested twice while covering the Occupy Wall Street protests. “I joined this lawsuit because as a working journalist I’ve been arrested, thrown to the ground, hit with batons and yelled at by the NYPD while doing my job on assignment” said Ms. Keith. “I have seen my fellow journalists being treated this way as well. Why should journalists be subjected to trauma inducing harassment on the job?”
Sean D. Elliot, President of NPPA, stated that NPPA joined the lawsuit so that “it can effectively address the continuing course of conduct by the NYPD against its members and others that has chilled our Constitutionally protected rights to gather and disseminate news.”
Other plaintiffs in this lawsuit were quick to praise NPPA for joining as a new party. “We are pleased and honored to have the NPPA join our efforts, and we look forward to working with them towards the goals of justice, accountability and freedom of expression,” said Sam Cohen, one of the attorneys at the helm of the case. Yetta Kurland, a civil rights attorney assisting with the case, remarked that “The NPPA and other members of the press play a vital role in getting the message of OWS out to the world. Arresting the press isn’t just an attempt by the City and JP Morgan Chase to suppress the press and freedom of speech and expression, but also to suppress the message of Occupy.”
Posted in Assault on Photographers, Attack Photographers, Commissioner Raymond Kelly, First Amendment, First Amendment rights, Lawsuit, National Press Photographers Association, News Photography, Newsgathering, NPPA, NYPD, Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Wall Street Arrests, photographers, Photographers' Rights, photojournalism, Police, Recording Police | 4 Comments »
October 15th, 2012 by Joan Blazich and tagged Access, Arrest, Atlanta, first amendment, free speech, journalism, journalist, Legal, Mickey Osterreicher, national press photographers association, NPPA, photographers, photography, photojournalism, photojournalist, police, Student journalists
Charges against two student journalists arrested while covering the Occupy Atlanta protests last year have finally been dropped. College journalists Alisen Redmond of The Sentinel at Kennesaw State University and Judith Kim of The Signal at Georgia State University were arrested by police on November 5, 2011 on charges of “obstruction of traffic,” even though both women were standing with a group of other media reporters on a street that police had already closed to traffic.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced the decision to drop the charges on October 13 during a conference held by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. When asked why he had failed to address the matter sooner, Reed responded that “he had not heard anything about it in the press or from his assistants.” Upon learning that the charges had been dropped, NPPA General Counsel Mickey H. Osterreicher said, “we applaud the city’s actions and hope this incident will serve as an example to others that it is never too late to make sure that justice is served.”
Osterreicher had sent Mayor Reed a letter on October 1 asking him to dismiss the charges against the students. Among other things, the letter, written on behalf of The American Society of News Editors, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, The Atlanta Press Club, Cable News Network, Inc., The American Society of Media Photographers and The Student Press Law Center, urged Mayor Reed to “use your good offices to help seek an immediate dismissal of these charges in the interest of justice.”
An even earlier letter from The Student Press Law Center’s Executive Director Frank LoMonte was sent on November 7, 2011. In that letter LoMonte asked Mayor Reed to “immediately initiate an investigation into the circumstances of these student journalists’ arrests, and that you instruct the Police Department to withdraw all charges against the students and against any journalist whose ‘crime’ consists of standing on public property non-disruptively gathering news.”
NPPA has repeatedly pointed out to numerous groups and law enforcement agencies that actions by officers to interfere with and detain those engaged in Constitutionally protected activity under color of law is wrong. The NPPA has also strongly objected to journalists being harassed, intimidated and arrested while covering news stories because they were not considered to be “properly credentialed” by the police.
Posted in Assault on Photographers, Attack Photographers, detained, First Amendment, First Amendment rights, National Press Photographers Association, News Photography, Newsgathering, NPPA, Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Wall Street Arrests, photographers, Photographers' Rights, photojournalism, Police, Recording Police, Student, students | 1 Comment »
August 24th, 2012 by Justice Warren and tagged first amendment, free speech, journalism, journalist, Legal, Mickey Osterreicher, national press photographers association, NPPA, Supreme Court of the United States
Mickey H. Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), offered his legal expertise in a webinar Thursday night in which panelists discussed media issues surrounding the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Tampa, Fla., and the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Charlotte, N.C.
The webinar, entitled “Reporting at the Conventions : Safety, Security & Rights,” featured journalists and policy experts who offered their advice on how to act and what to look for while covering the events. Josh Stearns, the Journalism and Public Media Campaign Director at Free Press, led the discussion that focused primarily on arrest issues and Fourth Amendment protections against search and seizures.
“I think one of the things that drew [the panel] together was the concern for finding ways to support journalists as the demographics of journalism are changing, and we’re seeing more and more freelance, independent, and citizen journalists out there on the front lines covering these sorts of events,” Stearns said. “We want to provide tools, networks, resources and support for those journalists.”
The panel featured Natasha Lennard and Susie Cagle, two journalists who shared their experiences of being arrested while covering Occupy protests. The panel also featured Andy Sellars, who works for the Digital Media Law Project at Harvard’s Berkman Center.
The webinar gave viewers a chance to interact and direct questions to the panelists about issues particularly concerning to them. In light of the increase of freelance and citizen journalists, one pressing concern involved distinguishing one’s self from protestors and the extent to which media credentials would protect journalists from police interference.
Osterreicher, who will attend both the RNC and DNC, told viewers that only officially issued credentials will be honored and valid for inside security perimeter areas, and that prohibitions against certain items may make it difficult for anyone without those credentials to carry out their assignments.
“The problem is that for both of these conventions, I think the secret service are pretty much setting the tone for these things,” Osterreicher said. “”It’ll be interesting to see what happens when people are carrying some of these prohibited items to the credentialed area.”
Sellars informed viewers that his group had published a guide on the state of the law in Tampa and Charlotte that will help journalists better understand what to expect while covering the conventions.
“Both Tampa and Charlotte have passed ordinances that prohibit certain items,” Sellars said. “The trick is that you have to think about these things from the perspective of law enforcement. It’s not what your intent is so much as what the police think your intent is.”
The RNC runs from Aug. 27-30, while the DNC runs from Sep. 4-6. For more information on the issues discussed during the webinar, a recording of the event can be seen here.
Posted in Charlotte, Democratic National Convention, First Amendment rights, FL, Florida, National Press Photographers Association, NC, News Photography, Newsgathering, NPPA, photographers, Photographers' Rights, photojournalism, Press Credentials, Republican National Conventiob, Tampa, U.S. Secret Service, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
August 10th, 2012 by Justice Warren and tagged Access, Arrest, first amendment, free speech, journalism, Legal, Mickey Osterreicher, national press photographers association, NPPA, photography, photojournalism, photojournalist, police, police relations, recording
The American News and Information Services (ANIS) filed a Complaint Wednesday in federal district court seeking redress for the repeated violation of the First Amendment rights of an ANIS employee by San Diego City and County government officials.
The complaint alleges that San Diego law enforcement exhibited a pattern of First Amendment rights violations by giving law enforcement officers excessive discretion to prevent access to and recording of public safety activity. It also alleges that the pattern is further evidenced by the San Diego Police Department’s (SDPD) exclusive authority to issue media credentials and the retaliatory actions taken against those who attempt to exercise their right to record.
“The SD Defendants, despite a revolution in access to news brought on by rapid technological advances, still seek through the use of government-issued press credentials control of the message through control of the messenger,” the complaint states.
James C. Playford, a National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) member who began work for ANIS after the SDPD refused to renew his press credentials, has been arrested four times since 2010 while attempting to cover public safety activities. Three of those arrests resulted in the seizure of Playford’s equipment and raw video. A photo and physical description of Playford was also allegedly disseminated to San Diego law enforcement identifying him as an individual prohibited from access to public safety activity.
San Diego law enforcement agencies have come under fire recently due to repeated arrests of photojournalists. The NPPA sent a letter to the SDPD and along with one from the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial County (ACLU) which they referenced on their website, requesting an end to police interference with photojournalists’ rights to record events occurring in public. Wednesday’s letter was NPPA’s third letter to San Diego law enforcement this year concerning the rights of photojournalists.
“While the press may not have any greater access rights than the public to these incidents, they have no less rights either,” said Mickey H. Osterreicher, general counsel for NPPA, in his letter to the SDPD. “Unfortunately a number of your officers have abused their discretion in limiting those press rights and then have detained and arrested our members when questioned about such discriminatory acts.”
In the most recent media controversy, NPPA member and freelance photojournalist Edward Baier was arrested on July 20th by the SDPD and charged with interfering with a police officer, though Baier claimed he was attempting to film from private property with the owner’s permission. Baier said he was tackled by two officers during the altercation, causing him injuries requiring medical attention.
Baier’s arrest was his second this year by the SDPD. In January, police told Baier to move away from the scene of a drowning, though the public was allowed to remain inside of the police tape. When Baier protested, he was arrested and charged with resisting arrest. The arresting officers later added two counts of assaulting an officer.
The NPPA sent a letter to the SDPD in January objecting to Baier’s arrest, and later sent a letter to the Office of the City Attorney requesting that Baier’s charges be dropped.
“The reliance by your officer to question, detain, interfere with, arrest and seize the property of someone engaged in a lawful activity under color of law is reprehensible,” Osterreicher said in his January letter to the SDPD. “At best, behavior that chills free speech and unreasonably seizes property is extremely unprofessional, at worst it is criminal.”
Posted in Access, ACLU, ACLU of Dan Diego & Imperial County, Assault on Photographers, Attack Photographers, confiscated, First Amendment, First Amendment rights, Lawsuit, National Press Photographers Association, Newsgathering, NPPA, photographers, Photographers' Rights, photojournalism, Recording Police, San Diego Police Department, SDPD | No Comments »
July 11th, 2012 by Mickey Osterreicher and tagged ACLU v Alvarez, Certiorari, first amendment, free speech, Illinois Eavesdropping Act, national press photographers association, NPPA, US COurt of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, US Supreme Court
As you may recall, last week I updated the case of ACLU v Alvarez regarding the constitutionality of the Illinois Eavesdropping Act (the Act) which makes it a crime to audio record police officers without their permission while they are performing their official duties in a public place.
Well now a case that appeared to be over – isn’t. After a motion hearing, held on July 3, 2012, newly reassigned District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman granted the ACLU motion for the preliminary injunction and entry of amended complaint in compliance with the Seventh Circuit’s May 8, 2012 opinion. This has the effect of enjoining the State’s Attorney (or anyone else in Illinois) from prosecuting the ACLU or its employees under the Act “for openly audio recording police officers, and civilians talking to such officers, without the consent of the officers and civilians when (a) the officers are performing their public duties, (b) the officers are in public places, (c) the officers are speaking at a volume audible to the unassisted ear of the person making the recording, and (d) the manner of recording is otherwise lawful.” While the language of the preliminary injunction specifically protects only the ACLU, one would hope that the state would also refrain from prosecuting anyone else under the Act, but given Ms. Alvarez’ dogged pursuit of this matter there is no guarantee.
The judge also heard arguments regarding State Attorney Alvarez’ motion to stay the proceedings while she seeks appeal from the United States Supreme Court. motion to stay “that that there is a reasonable probability that four [Supreme Court] justices will consider the issue sufficiently meritorious to grant certiorari, Judge Coleman granted the stay pending the filing the Writ of Certiorari.
In explaining her decision the Court took notice of the Seventh Circuit’s opinion finding the Act “an outlier in the country because it has no expectation of privacy provision and instead prohibits all non-consensual recordings.” But she also took note that “the Court has not considered the precise issues here – whether the police have any legitimate privacy interest in their public statements and activities while on duty, which is precisely why the Court may choose to hear the case.” Judge Coleman further rationalized that “while it may be likely that the Supreme Court will affirm the Seventh Circuit’s decision, it would likely do so with greater finality and expediency than if this matter proceeds in this Court and through a second appeal to the Seventh Circuit.” She also struck a proper balance by protecting both parties rights, finding that during the stay “Alvarez will not suffer any harm by not prosecuting anyone under this statute” while “the ACLU has the benefit of a preliminary injunction protecting their activities and precluding prosecution under the Act.”
She has scheduled a status hearing for 10/29/2012 at 9:00 a.m. And so the saga continues.
Posted in ACLU v Alvarez, Chicago, Chicago Police, First Amendment, First Amendment rights, Illinois, Illinois ACLU, Illinois Eavesdropping Law, National Press Photographers Association, News Photography, Newsgathering, NPPA, Photographers' Rights, Reasonable Expectation of Privacy, US COurt of Appeals for the 7th Circuit | 6 Comments »