June 13th, 2013 by Wills Citty and tagged Access, Arrest, California Department of Parks and Recreation, first amendment, free speech, journalism, law, Legal, Mickey Osterreicher, national press photographers association, NPPA, photographers, photography, photojournalism, photojournalist, recording, Southern California Edison, trespassing, video
A month after being notified the California Department of Parks and Recreation has responded to a letter sent by NPPA general counsel Mickey Osterreicher regarding an incident during which parks employees detained a news crew and ordered them to delete their footage. KGTV Team 10 reporter Mitch Blacher and photojournalist Arie Thanasoulis were on public property at San Onofre State Beach on April 29, 2013 shooting footage for a story on the San Onofre Nuclear power plant when they were approached by a parks employee who accused them of trespassing, blocked their vehicle and ordered them to stop recording.
That employee, later identified as Bob Warman, then called State Parks Police Officer Ennio Rocca who arrived and also proceeded to harass and threaten to arrest the pair for doing nothing more than recording video of the plant from an area open to the public. Officer Rocca in turn called an unidentified employee of Southern California Edison, who arrived on the scene dressed in full SWAT gear. The three of them then ordered the crew to delete whatever video they had already shot under threat of arrest.While the trio claimed the news crew was standing on private property, the “no trespassing” sign they referred to turned out to be for “no parking,” while a fisherman and a woman walking her dog are visible in video footage in an area they alleged was “secure.” Although the news crew complied with the unreasonable demand and deleted a file containing the footage they were able to broadcast a story using video contained on a second file.
In his letter Osterreicher called the actions of the parks officers “a clear violation of the First and Fourth Amendments.” “It is one thing for officers to act when there is probable cause, Osterreicher wrote, “it is quite another to abuse that discretion in order to create a climate that infringes upon free speech under the pretext of safety and security.” He requested that the “matter be fully investigated and the employees properly disciplined if so indicated.” Osterreicher also advised the department by email of another incident that occurred on May 14, 2103 involving its officers, who detained and questioned two other photographers, JC Playford and Gerry Nance, filming near the power plant gate.
Responding to the NPPA, California Department of Parks & Recreation Chief Counsel Claire LeFlore agreed that the officers had overstepped their bounds. ”In hindsight, they may have acted with an overabundance of caution while detaining the news crew,” LeFlore said, “but there was never an intention to violate anyone’s constitutional rights.” LeFlore noted that the incident came shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing, and at that “staff was on high alert for the possibility of additional terrorist actions.” Osterreicher responded to that statement in a subsequent interview, saying, “it is indeed unfortunate that well-meaning people still somehow equate an act of terrorism with photography.” “In the Boston tragedy it should be duly noted that law enforcement requested anyone who had pictures or video of the event provide them voluntarily – not delete them,” he added.
The importance of defending sensitive targets is well understood, but, as Osterreicher noted, “in any free country the balance between actual vigilance and over-zealous enforcement is delicate.” LeFlore says all personnel involved in the incident have been counseled on how to properly deal with the press “so that First Amendment rights can be protected and both the press and [parks] staff can carry out their functions with minimal interference with each other.” Officers have also been counseled that there is no legal basis for the seizure or destruction of photographs or video.
Osterreicher also sent copies of his letter to officials from Southern California Edison, the owners of the plant but received no response. In its report 10News quoted a spokeswoman for the utility, as saying, “a security officer ‘responded conservatively when he indicated to a television crew his preference that they stop filming and delete their video.’” Osterreicher also responded to that statement, ”Indicating a preference that someone stop filming is a far cry from illegally ordering someone to do so under threat of arrest.” “Aside from being factually incorrect, the arrogance of Southern California Edison in their failure to respond to our letter, unrepentant statements to KGTV and behavior of their employees speaks for itself,” he concluded.
The NPPA has offered to work with the California Department of Parks and Recreation to improve their guidelines and training regarding these matters in order to avoid similar situations. The parks department says it will consider NPPA suggestions in implementing an expanded staff training program.
KGTV reporter Mitch Blacher said in an email, “It is encouraging to see the California state parks police work to remedy the oppression of constitutional rights by their officers,” adding, ”As American citizens and working journalists our treatment was highly troubling.” “More questions need to be asked as to why California parks police and staff followed the direction of non-sworn private security personnel instead of the federal and state constitutions they swore an oath to uphold.” 1oNews Special Projects Executive Producer Ellen McGregor added, “As a manager behind-the-scenes, who talked for quite some time on the phone with parks police that day, Mickey’s offer train the agencies on the First and Fourth Amendments proves the NPPA’s commitment to a free press, and the journalists at KGTV are grateful.”
Posted in Access, Assault on Photographers, Attack Photographers, California, detained, First Amendment, First Amendment rights, Fourth Amendment, Fourth Amendment rights, National Press Photographers Association, News Photography, Newsgathering, NPPA, photographers, Photographers' Rights, photojournalism, Police, Public Photography, Recording, Regulations limiting photography, trespass | 189 Comments »
January 26th, 2013 by Joan Blazich and tagged Alicia Calzada, copyright, copyright small claims, journalism, journalist, law, Legal, Mickey Osterreicher, national press photographers association, NPPA, orphan works, photographer, photographers, photography, photojournalism, photojournalist, u.s. copyright office, Visual Journalists
The National Press Photographer’s Association (NPPA) has, in response to a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) by the Copyright Office, submitted comments on the issue of orphan works and mass digitalization. The Copyright Office has solicited comments for use in advising Congress on how to address current issues involving copyright and orphan works.
These official comments, written by NPPA attorneys Mickey Osterreicher and Alicia Calzada, with contributions from board member Greg Smith and NPPA intern Joan Blazich, discuss the issues currently facing visual journalists regarding copyright and propose solutions for creating a system which would treat copyright holders and users of orphaned works fairly and efficiently.
The comments state that “NPPA is gravely concerned that in seeking to address the frustration of ‘good faith users’ of Orphan Works in order to cure their potential liability and ‘gridlock in the digital marketplace,’ the Copyright Office may create a far more serious problem for authors/owners of visual works.” The comments also note that “As visual journalists, our members are squeezed from every side by onerous contracts seeking all rights for little compensation, the proliferation of user generated content by publishers and the widespread infringement of visual works by individuals and organizations. While we understand and appreciate the concerns of those in the copyright community who need to use Orphan Works, we believe it is crucial to protect the copyright of recently created visual works that, for whatever reason, appear to be orphaned when, in fact, they are not.”
NPPA attorneys Osterreicher and Calzada plan to attend the Copyright Office’s public hearings on orphan works once dates and times for those hearings are announced. As more visual journalists face situations in which their images are misappropriated under an ”orphan works” claim, the NPPA proposes that if any legislation is enacted, it must include language that protects authors from predatory practices by those who would infringe upon our members’ work with impunity under the protection of a new law.
“Photographers are lucky to have advocates like Mickey, Alicia, Greg and Joan, who spend a great deal of time examining these issues and and how they will affect our members and all those who create content,” said NPPA President Mike Borland. “The orphan works issue won’t be resolved soon and it certainly won’t be resolved properly without our voice being heard,” he added.
In accordance with that goal, the comments recommend significant limitations on what works qualify as orphans and which users would be entitled to such protection. In addition, the NPPA advocated for registration of any uses of orphan works, along with a bond or insurance requirement to protect rights holders’ financial interests in the event they come forward to make a claim.
To read the NPPA’s comments, click here. To read the Copyright Office’s current NOI, click here. To read about previous Copyright Office inquiries on the subject of orphan works click here.
Posted in copyright, copyright infringement, National Press Photographers Association, NPPA, Orphan Works, Photographers' Rights, U.S. Copyright Office, Visual Journalists | 44 Comments »
October 22nd, 2012 by Joan Blazich and tagged copyright, copyright small claims, journalism, journalist, law, Legal, Mickey Osterreicher, national press photographers association, NPPA, photographers, photography, photojournalism, photojournalist, u.s. copyright office, Visual Journalists
The National Press Photographer’s Association (NPPA) has, at the request of the Copyright Office, submitted comments concerning the creation of a copyright small claims court system. These comments constitute the second round of commentary requested by the Copyright Office over the possibility of instituting a small claims copyright court system.
These official comments, written by NPPA attorneys Mickey Osterreicher and Alicia Calzada, with a significant contribution by board member Greg Smith and NPPA intern Joan Blazich, discusses the issues currently facing photojournalists regarding copyright and presents potential solutions for creating a court system that would permit an efficient and cost-effective method of addressing copyright small claims.
“While much of the advocacy by NPPA deals with access issues and the right to photograph and record in public; it cannot be understated that without the ability to affordably protect one’s copyright visual journalists will soon be out of business,” Osterreicher said. “That is why it is so important that the Copyright Office support a new initiative that will address this critical issue,” he added.
The Copyright Office will hold public hearings on these issues in New York City on November 15-16, 2012 and in Los Angeles on November 26-27, 2012. It is holding these discussions to learn more about the topics listed in its August 23, 2012 Notice of Inquiry and the comments submitted in response to that Notice, as well as the comments in response to the initial October 27, 2012 Notice of Inquiry.
The New York City hearings will be held at the Jerome Greene Annex of Columbia Law School, 410 West 117th Street, New York, New York 10027. The November 15 hearing will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and the November 16 hearing will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The Los Angeles hearings will be held in Room 1314 of the UCLA School of Law, 405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90095. The November 26 hearing will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and the November 27 hearing will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
NPPA attorneys Osterreicher and Calzada plan to participate in those meetings to advocate for NPPA’s proposals. As many photojournalists face situations involving copyright claims that amount to a limited amount of damages, the NPPA strongly supports the creation of a copyright small claims court system by the Copyright Office that would permit photojournalists to resolve such claims in an expedited and cost effective manner.
Read NPPA’s comments here:
Posted in copyright, Copyright Small Claims, National Press Photographers Association, NPPA, photographers, Photographers' Rights, photojournalism, U.S. Copyright Office | 40 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 | 21 Comments »
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 | 9 Comments »
August 23rd, 2012 by Alicia Calzada and tagged Arrest, first amendment, journalism, journalist, law, Legal, Mickey Osterreicher, national press photographers association, NPPA, NYPD, photographers, photography, photojournalism, photojournalist, police, police relations, Press Credentials
Today (8/23/12) the New York Police Department (NYPD) returned the press credentials of a New York Times photographer who had his equipment and credentials seized following his arrest on August 4th.
Robert Stolarik, who was arrested on charges of obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest while photographing police activity on assignment, said, “My cameras were returned to me two weeks ago. Getting my gear back was the first step and now I have my credentials. The next part of this process will be getting the charges dropped.”
The return of his credentials was a result of the efforts by National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) general counsel, Mickey H. Osterreicher and New York Times attorney George Freeman, who expressed his satisfaction with “such a great result.” Osterreicher who negotiated with NYPD legal staff said, “We are very appreciative that the NYPD reconsidered their position with regard to the return of Robert’s credentials but still believe it is unfortunate that they were taken in the first place and we will work very diligently to see that the charges are dismissed.” “We hope the department uses this incident as a teachable moment in improving police-press relations in NY,” Osterreicher added.
The return of the seized equipment on August 10, 2012 came days after the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) sent a letter to Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne of the NYPD that objected to the rough treatment and arrest of Stolarik and requested that his equipment be returned to him.
Osterreicher also sent a letter to the editor which was published by the NY Times on that same Friday morning, in which among other things, the NPPA attorney urged “the New York Police Department to work with us to improve training and supervision for its members starting from the top down .”
Posted in Assault on Photographers, confiscated, First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Fourth Amendment rights, National Press Photographers Association, New York TImes, News Photography, Newsgathering, NPPA, NYPD, photographers, Photographers' Rights, photojournalism, Police, Press Credentials, Robert Stolarik | 19 Comments »
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 »