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LA Times blocked from publishing photos by California Court

August 8th, 2010 by Alicia Calzada and tagged , , , , , ,

On Wednesday, a judge in Los Angeles told LA Times photographer Al Seib not to publish photographs that he had taken– with the courts permission- during an arraignment.

According to the Times, the paper had made a written request following to court procedure, and Judge Hilleri G. Merrit, had approved the request. During the hearing, after Seib had begun taking the pictures, the judge was reminded by the district attorney of an agreement not to allow photography and video.

At issue is what Seib and the Times can legally do with the photographs already taken. The judge initially order Seib not to publish the images, and upheld that order in a subsequent hearing. The court is apparently concerned that photographs of the defendant in his orange jumpsuit will impact potential jurors.

While it is not a First Amendment violation for a judge in many circumstances to ban photography from a court hearing, case law is clear that it is a violation of the First Amendment for the government- including a judge- to order a newspaper to not publish information, and photographs that it already has. There is a strong line of Supreme Court case law indicating that such prior restraint is not permissible.

Even when the government mistakenly allows a newspaper to access information or photographs that it was not supposed to allow, they cannot fix their mistake by blocking publication of the information accessed. Several Supreme court cases have addressed this issue in regard to information, and in the 1970s an appeals in California struck down a judicial order banning the media from publishing the names and photographs of witnesses in a case, after that court had allowed access. The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to allow prior restraint even in cases of national security.

The Times is appealing the order. NPPA is in touch with the newspaper’s attorneys and is working on supporting their effort. For more information about NPPA’s involvement, contact Mickey Osterreicher at [email protected]

Posted in Access, Legal, photographers, photojournalism, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Is Your Internship Legal?

May 22nd, 2010 by Alicia Calzada and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

With the school year wrapping up, another Internship season is upon us. So I thought it might be worth re-hashing an issue that I posted on my personal blog a couple of months ago about labor laws and free internships. Here it is:

You need an internship. Companies love having interns because it lightens the work load, they get to nurture and identify young talent and it supports the industry to train future photographers.

There is an interesting article in the New York Times about the expanding trend of unpaid internships and the reality that some unpaid internships violate federal wage laws.

I also found a useful evaluation at this link.

One of the big concerns is that unpaid internships are being used to replace paid workers in this economic recession. This is certainly true in the photojournalism world.

Some states require that an intern receive school credit in order to be eligible as an unpaid intern.

The Department of Labor has provided a set of guidelines to determine whether someone is a trainee, entitled to not being paid (this is relevant for Fair Labor Standards Act- i.e., whether or not minimum wage laws are being violated).

There is also a report by the Economic Policy Insitute on the trends and need for reform for internships.

According to the DOL, there are six factors used for determining if someone is an employee or trainee:

1. The training, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the
employer, is similar to what would be given in a vocational school or academic
educational instruction;
2. The training is for the benefit of the trainees;
3. The trainees do not displace regular employees, but work under their close
observation;
4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the
activities of the trainees, and on occasion the employer’s operations may actually
be impeded;
5. The trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training
period; and
6. The employer and the trainees understand that the trainees are not entitled to
wages for the time spent in training.

“If all of the factors listed above are met, then the worker is a “trainee”, an employment
relationship does not exist under the FLSA, and the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime provisions do not apply to the worker.”

This does not affect non-profits using volunteers.

You may think this is overkill when you have a student willing to work for free in exchange for valuable experience, but this is extra important for photographers because the consideration of whether someone is an employee is also important for consideration of who owns the copyright. Also, if there is an on-the-job injury or a sexual discrimination case, employment status is extremely important.

Do you want to know if the free internship program at your paper is in compliance with the law? To be sure, better ask your corporate counsel.

Posted in business, contracts, interns, photographers, photojournalism, students | No Comments »

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