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New Legislation 'To Protect Farmer IP' Would Make It A Felony To Photograph Farms

from the oh-come-on dept

An awful lot of you sent in this story about a proposed law in Florida that could put people in jail for taking a photograph of a farm without permission. Seriously. Not surprisingly, the "excuse" for this is that it is "needed to protect the property rights of farmers and the "intellectual property" involving farm operations." I'm not kidding. The bill was introduced by Florida State Senator Jim Norman from Tampa. It's apparently targeted at animal rights activists, who have been known to photograph questionable conditions of animals on farms. In other words, it has nothing to do with "protecting intellectual property." It's to avoid criticism for treating animals poorly. And, of course, if animal activists are trespassing to get these photos, there are already laws against that. But this is what you get in this kind of society, where people seem to project the idea that anything can be redefined as "property" and locked up -- people use "intellectual property" as an excuse for simply ridiculous legislative proposals such as this one. Even if such a law passes, it won't take long for it to be declared unconstitutional, but it could waste Florida taxpayer money to fight this in court.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Christopher Gizzi (profile), Feb 28th, 2011 @ 9:21am

    Fair Use?

    Wouldn't they have a fair use argument? I know it would involve a legal battle but the publicity for issuing a "takedown" or something would do more damage than animal rights groups taking photos.

    Its not going to stop the activists from taking photos. Most activists don't care about these types of laws to make a point - just like the trespassing laws.

    Even if it passes, it won't actually do much. That's not to say I want anyone's free speech in jeopardy because of some special interest. But I'm confident that the effectiveness of such a law would be zero.

     

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  2.  
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    Richard (profile), Feb 28th, 2011 @ 9:46am

    Re: Fair Use?

    But I'm confident that the effectiveness of such a law would be zero.

    Maybe - but such a law sets a dangerous precedent - and the follow-ons might be a real problem.

     

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    Joe Eyeball, Feb 28th, 2011 @ 9:51am

    Maybe - but such a law sets a dangerous precedent - and the follow-ons might be a real problem.

    For example charging people damages because retinal-to-mental imaging would be considered infringment. If you so much as think about the farm, that's 100 bucks.

    We would probably have to blind the most frequent offenders. Bring on the hot irons, and show those eye-pirates not to steal our expressions of "proprietary animal husbandry"!

     

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  4.  
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    John Menden, Feb 28th, 2011 @ 10:01am

    Unintended Consequences?

    How would this proposed law handle satellite images? Does someone at NASA or Google have to worry about being tossed in jail? I'm sure that's just the tip of the unintended consequence-iceberg for this silliness.

     

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  5.  
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    Irving, Feb 28th, 2011 @ 10:07am

    Re:

    I used to practice animal husbandry (until they caught me at it one day)....

    - with apologies to several thousand hack comedians

     

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  6.  
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    Steve, Feb 28th, 2011 @ 10:17am

    Re: Fair Use?

    "..it won't actually do much."

    Except for the part of the law that says, "needed to protect the property rights of farmers and the "intellectual property" involving farm operations." Because some farm will decide "farm operation," includes how it milks cows and will sue to stop other farms from using the same method without licensing it.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2011 @ 10:25am

    Re: Re: Fair Use?

    because there are so many unique way to suck a teet

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2011 @ 10:25am

    Re: Re: Fair Use?

    because there are so many unique way to suck a teet

     

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  9.  
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    Chris ODonnell (profile), Feb 28th, 2011 @ 10:33am

    There needs to be a penalty for introducing laws that are found unconstitutional. Generally speaking, I think we'd be much better off if the fear of the penalty caused state and national legislators to be much more prudent in the use of their signature to sponsor legislation. Something like, I don't know, making them ineligible to run for office again, although that would probably require a constitutional amendment. It might be easier to just hit them in the wallet. If they sponsor or co-sponsor legislation that is found unconstitutional, they forfeit all pay earned as a legislator for that term.

     

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  10.  
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    Jackie, Feb 28th, 2011 @ 10:34am

    Except for satellite photos?

    Because the absolutely best way of determining what a farm is growing and how the crop is doing is to order satellite photos of the area.
    There is no intellectual property right to be enbodied in a photo of a farm.
    A farm operates in the public view. Anything that can be seen from the road is available to all.
    If they want to build walls around their farms then they can claim trestpass for people who take photos. All they have to do is build the wall as high as they want to prevent people from taking a photo from that height. At some point they could be arguing privacy instead of intellectual property though. One might have a reasonable expectation that people won't ascend to 45 feet above the ground to take pictures. But one should expect that overhead photos are available to anyone with a kite, plane or a satellite.
    This Florida law is sort of like that Texas law prosecuting people who said that you could get Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis (BSE) from contaminated beef. Some Texas farms then sued Oprah Winfrey to try to prevent her mentioning BSE.
    Corrupt politicians are everywhere nowadays. But Florida and Texas politicians have some of the worst reputations .

     

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  11.  
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    New Mexico Mark, Feb 28th, 2011 @ 10:35am

    Re: Fair Use?

    > But I'm confident that the effectiveness of such a law would be zero.

    The effectiveness of many laws is negligible until you are the one who runs afoul of some obscure offense. In my opinion, laws like this encourage selective enforcement. "We didn't find any evidence of drugs, but the scoundrel had recent farm pictures on his camera. Need we say more, your honor?"

    It may only be anecdotal, but I'd think twice before disagreeing with a Texas law enforcement officer if I was carrying a pair of pliers in my back pocket. That thar's a hangin' offense! (Supposedly a law against this was originally enacted because rustlers would carry pliers to cut fences.)

    NMM

     

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  12.  
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    Calico, Feb 28th, 2011 @ 10:37am

    Hold on a sec...

    Now, if i read this right, the bill was originally introduced to stop animal activists??

    Ok, so I'm not all for the paint + fur group, but animal activists do a lot of good.

    So, here's a better question to ask then what to do about those horrible eye pirates:

    Why would a Senator want to stop animal activists from protecting the animals in the state of Florida?

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Feb 28th, 2011 @ 10:45am

    Not having investigated this a whole lot, this law seems more geared to aid in the suppression of images and stories the farmers do not want out in public view.

    Because we all know it's much easier to file a take down notice than actually proving something as libelous or slanderous.

     

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    fogbugzd (profile), Feb 28th, 2011 @ 10:54am

    Take downs

    The law would give legal cover to those who send DCMA take down notices when the pictures show up on line. On the other hand there isn't much need for legal cover because there aren't effective legal penalties against bogus DCMA notices.

    The only real deterrent to questionable take down notices is the Streisand effect they tend to create. Let's see the Florida legislature try to craft a law against the Streisand effect. I should probably quit now and stop giving them ideas.

     

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  15.  
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    Kevin (profile), Feb 28th, 2011 @ 10:57am

    Re: Hold on a sec...

    His friend, brother, cousin, aunt, uncle, father-in-law, or gay lover either owns a farm or knows someone who owns a farm who was recently caught doing something bad, and wants the bad publicity to stop.

     

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  16.  
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    someone (profile), Feb 28th, 2011 @ 11:01am

    PayWall

    They should take a page from these old newspapers and install a paywall/dome.

    Keep that pesky light from reflecting onto my camera lens.

     

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  17.  
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    Berenerd (profile), Feb 28th, 2011 @ 11:11am

    Re: Re: Hold on a sec...

    You know the old saying, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease"? Well this one states, "The greased hand gets to squeak."

     

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  18.  
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    Chargone (profile), Feb 28th, 2011 @ 11:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Fair Use?

    hence the issue.

     

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  19.  
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    Hiiragi Kagami (profile), Feb 28th, 2011 @ 11:15am

    Is it just me or...

    ... are all the nutjob news articles of late, coming out of Florida, just a coincidence?

    Perhaps it's time to do some testing on the fertilizers used on the oranges down there?

    At any rate, this doesn't surprise me anymore. I can't wait until we see someone sue the sun for casting derivative works against people because they're upset over shadows.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2011 @ 11:16am

    Re:

    There needs to be a penalty for introducing laws that are found unconstitutional. Generally speaking, I think we'd be much better off if the fear of the penalty caused state and national legislators to be much more prudent in the use of their signature to sponsor legislation. Something like, I don't know, making them ineligible to run for office again, although that would probably require a constitutional amendment. It might be easier to just hit them in the wallet. If they sponsor or co-sponsor legislation that is found unconstitutional, they forfeit all pay earned as a legislator for that term.

    The only way to get rid of bad legislator is by not reelecting them or by impeachment, conviction, and removal. The legislators already have a duty to act in good faith. I see no problem with introducing bills in good faith, even if they're ones that later are ruled unconstitutional by the courts, or deemed unconstitutional by the executive. The Constitution already has built in mechanisms for dealing with unconstitutional legislation, from the President' veto power to the Supreme Court's last say. The other coordinate branches of government act as checks and balances, and I think the system works rather well.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2011 @ 11:20am

    But this is what you get in this kind of society, where people seem to project the idea that anything can be redefined as "property" and locked up -- people use "intellectual property" as an excuse for simply ridiculous legislative proposals such as this one.

    Maybe so, but just because you can point to a couple of stupid ideas, that doesn't mean that overall copyright and IP laws aren't worth having. I'm filing this article under FUD. Besides, I'm sure I can point to a few stupid ideas by IP abolitionists.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2011 @ 11:35am

    Re: Is it just me or...

    Mickey Mouse + rockets = brain damage.

     

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  23.  
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    Christopher Gizzi (profile), Feb 28th, 2011 @ 11:42am

    Re: Re: Fair Use?

    But the point is that the effectiveness - even under select enforcement - is zero because when word gets out that someone stops someone else from milking a cow because of a photo, they'd get smacked by the public; see the Streisand Effect.

    And again, most people who want to take photos of poor animal treatment don't care for trespassing laws - why would they care about IP laws like this? Most non-activist people probably won't know about the law and probably won't be selected for enforcement. When they are, Mike will report on it and see the Streisand Effect again.

    Now I'll admit I still have faith in the courts, public opinion, and the Streisand Effect to level the playing field. I know that it isn't always the case. Over time, however, bad laws are defeated - by repeal or by becoming marginalized by society as a whole; those obscure laws from the past that are selectively enforced after the public deemed them outdated also become subject to their outcry getting that selective enforcement dropped.

    And it shouldn't have to be that way. This is a stupid law that does set bad precedents. But I'm saying that bad ideas are doomed to fail no matter what; its one of those universal truths. So some individuals might suffer to ultimately keep laws like this from affecting the masses, their public troubles with these laws will keep us all more free in the end.

    Or am I being too hopeful here and we should all give up?

     

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  24.  
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    MAC, Feb 28th, 2011 @ 12:00pm

    Re: Hold on a sec...

    Because the farmers represent a larger voting block than animal rights photographers.

    I hope the FLA legislature and governor have enough sense to laugh this one right out of the statehouse.

    It is completely, utterly and absolutely un-constitutional.

    That said, did this jerk weed even read the Constitution when he was in law school?

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2011 @ 2:05pm

    THINK ABOUT THE CORN FARMERS!!!!!

     

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  26.  
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    hmm (profile), Feb 28th, 2011 @ 3:02pm

    OH dear!!!

    I think i may have just accidentally screenshotted (someone else's, not mine btw) farmville......

    I don't think anyone cares, although on an unrelated note has anyone noticed those black helicopters heading this way?

     

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  27.  
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    hmm (profile), Feb 28th, 2011 @ 3:05pm

    also

    Has anyone thought of the possibility that perhaps "Senator Jim Norman from Tampa" has been having secret liasons with his sheep mistress and just doesn't want the photos splashed (insert bad mental imagery here) over the papers?

     

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  28.  
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    hmm (profile), Feb 28th, 2011 @ 3:07pm

    final thought

    sorry for the triple post but I just thought of something...what if human brain = recording device, therefore farmhands have to work blindfold?

    Assuming they can get to the milking station, you better hope they don't get their hands on the bull, otherwise the milk is gonna get kinda salty.....

     

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  29.  
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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Feb 28th, 2011 @ 5:14pm

    Re: Is it just me or...

    there is a reason the florida tag exists....

     

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  30.  
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    abc gum, Feb 28th, 2011 @ 6:05pm

    So, animal abuse would be protected as an intellectual property right - wow. Would a farmer really go to court and attempt to prove how another farmer is copying his method of abusing animals?

     

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  31.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Feb 28th, 2011 @ 7:13pm

    but... THINK OF THE COWS!

    and it makes one wonder if "Cows with guns" could actually be a reality ;)

     

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  32.  
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    Miso Susanowa, Mar 1st, 2011 @ 3:06am

    Re:

    i think you mean iPirates©

     

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  33.  
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    bikey, Mar 1st, 2011 @ 9:35am

    This is the same state that made it a crime to criticize the food a few years ago after Oprah said something nasty about a piece of meat, or was it an orange?

     

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  34.  
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    bikey, Mar 1st, 2011 @ 10:10am

    This is the same state that made it a crime to criticize the food a few years ago after Oprah said something nasty about a piece of meat, or was it an orange?

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 7:53pm

    Investigate the Senator

    The senator is being investigated for not disclosing financial assets, and questions on how he can afford the properties he's bought. Hmmmmm

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2011 @ 4:27pm

    Nothing in the text of this bill (SB 1246) says anything about IP.

    Dumb bill? Almost certainly.

    Deals with IP? Nope.

     

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  37.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 8th, 2011 @ 4:37pm

    Re:

    Nothing in the text of this bill (SB 1246) says anything about IP.

    Dumb bill? Almost certainly.

    Deals with IP? Nope


    You make me laugh. The guy who lobbied heavily for the bill *EXPLICITY* stated that it was needed to protect his IP.

    In other words, you are wrong yet again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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