“The original plan was for an outdoor rock festival, ‘three days of peace and music’ in the Catskill village of Woodstock. What the young promoters got was the third largest city in New York state, population 400,000 (give or take 100,000), location Max Yasgur’s dairy farm near the town of White Lake.”
The New York Times has published a great interview with Michael H. Osterreicher, the general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association and the editor of the organization’s advocacy blog. In it, NYT Lens Blog co-editor James Estrin asks Osterreicher about photographers’ rights and the trend of people being stopped while shooting public locations.
Here’s an interesting quote by Osterreicher, responding to Estrin’s observation that it seems like photography is becoming a crime:
Since 9/11, there’s been an incredible number of incidents where photographers are being interfered with and arrested for doing nothing other than taking pictures or recording video in public places.
It’s not just news photographers who should be concerned with this. I think every citizen should be concerned. Tourists taking pictures are being told by police, security guards and sometimes other citizens, “Sorry, you can’t take a picture here.” When asked why, they say, “Well, don’t you remember 9/11?”
I remember it quite well, but what does that have do to with taking a picture in public? It seems like the war on terrorism has somehow morphed into an assault on photography.
If you think about it, cracking down on public photography to stop terrorists from stealthily snapping photos is along the lines of cracking down on public drawing to stop terrorists from stealthily creating sketches.
That might sound ridiculous, but when there’s an “everything for the sake of terrorism prevention” attitude invading a culture, ridiculous ideas start making sense.
We touched on this topic earlier this month after sharing a troubling government sponsored video linking photography and terrorism. Here’s a great article that we linked to then that sheds more like on this topic.
The rest of the NYT interview is definitely worth a read, as many of the common questions people have about photography in public are addressed and answered.
Criminalizing Photography [NYT Lens Blog]
Anton Vickerman, 38-year old owner of the once popular link site surfthechannel.com (STC), was sentenced to four years in prison on Tuesday by a British judge. But the prosecutors sitting across the courtroom from him didn’t work for the Crown—they were lawyers for the movie studio trade group Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT).
FACT, not public officials in the UK, was the driving force behind Vickerman’s prosecution. Indeed, FACT effectively took on the role of a private law enforcement agency. Private investigators hired by FACT first identified Vickerman as the administrator of STC and built the case against him. His assets were frozen at FACT’s request by a government agency—which was itself funded by FACT. And when the UK’s public prosecutors decided not to press charges against Vickerman at all, FACT initiated a criminal prosecution on its own dime.
This is a new development for anti-piracy efforts. Organizations like the MPAA, RIAA, IFPA, and FACT have long lobbied law enforcement officials to prosecute “rogue sites” and have provided them with information and logistical support to do so. But public prosecutors generally have the final say on who will be indicted. In the Vickerman case, the public prosecutors concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to merit prosecution. FACT disagreed and invoked what one lawyer told us is an “archaic right” for a private organization to bring criminal prosecutions against other private parties.
While one may wonder about the implications of the just announced “accelerated windown” of the GSEs, predicated in no small part by the surge in animosity between Tim Geithner and the FHFA’s Ed DeMarco, there is one aspect of the announcement that is completely and utterly unambigious: as part of its justification to demand faster liquidation of Fannie and Freddie’s “investment portfolio” Tim Geithner gave the following argument:This will help achieve several important objectives, including… Ending the circular practice of the Treasury advancing funds to the GSEs simply to pay dividends back to Treasury
In other words not some fringe blog, not some “partisan” media outlet, not some morally conflicted whistleblowing former employee seeking immunity, but the US Trasury itself just admitted it had been engaged in circular check kiting scheme, which essentially has all the components of a Ponzi scheme in it, ever since the nationalization(about which there is no now doubt and which means the GSE’s $6 trillion in debt is now fully on the Treasury’s balance sheet) of Fannie and Freddie in 2008.
Transfer one more conspiracy theory into the conspiracy fact bin.
Danny Tarkanian is the Republican nominee in a newly created congressional district in Nevada. He also seems to think his opponent has a very good makeup artist. During a speech to a GOP club earlier this week, Tarkanian went into a lengthy rant about how “all these black Democrats” have accused him of making a racist comment. He then levied an unusual allegation against state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, his Democratic opponent, claiming that “[w]e could be like Steven Horsford who’s not doing anything with [the African-American] community and, you know, pretend we’re black and maybe try to get some votes if that’s where it is.”
This is the man Tarkanian accused of pretending to be black:
A software engineer in my Facebook community wrote recently about his outrage that when he visited Disneyland, and went on a ride, the theme park offered him the photo of himself and his girlfriend to buy – with his credit card information already linked to it. He noted that he had never entered his name or information into anything at the theme park, or indicated that he wanted a photo, or alerted the humans at the ride to who he and his girlfriend were – so, he said, based on his professional experience, the system had to be using facial recognition technology. He had never signed an agreement allowing them to do so, and he declared that this use was illegal. He also claimed that Disney had recently shared data from facial-recognition technology with the United States military.
Yes, I know: it sounds like a paranoid rant.
Except that it turned out to be true. News21, supported by the Carnegie and Knight foundations, reports that Disney sites are indeed controlled by face-recognition technology, that the military is interested in the technology, and that the face-recognition contractor, Identix, has contracts with the US government – for technology that identifies individuals in a crowd.
So what we see here is a playing out of the fact that there is a complete disrespect for international law. The embassy premises of all countries have heretofore been considered sacrosanct. The British Foreign Office is now saying ‘well, we may forcibly enter.’ This was unheard of even during the worst days of the Cold War. If someone sought refuge in the US Embassy in Moscow or the Soviet Embassy in the United States, despite the friction, despite the enmity between those two countries, international law was always honored. This is unprecedented.
– former CIA officer Ray McGovern