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.

Filed Under: farms, florida, intellectual property, photographs


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  1. icon
    Christopher Gizzi (profile), 28 Feb 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by society as a whole; those obscure laws from the past that are selectively enforced after the public deemed them outdated also become subject to their outcry getting that selective enforcement dropped.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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