US Forest Service may require photography permits for journalists in wilderness areas

A sign posted by the US Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management indicates the start of public land north of Ingomar, Montana. - © M. Scott Brauer
A BLM sign marks the edge of public land north of Ingomar, Montana. – © M. Scott Brauer

UPDATE (25 Sept. 2014): The US Forest Service has extended the comment period and delayed the rules regarding photography permits amid growing public outcry.

Original post: The US Forest Service seems to have taken a page from so-called Ag-Gag laws around the country; rules will be finalized this November requiring reporters to apply and pay for a permit to shoot video or photos in designated federal wilderness areas. According to this OregonLive report, permits may cost up to $1,500, though, oddly, the penalty for taking photos without a permit will only go up to $1,000. The acting director of the US Forest Service told OregonLive that the policies, which have been “temporarily” in place for 4 years, are part of the organizations efforts to protect wilderness areas from being commercially exploited as designated under the Wilderness Act of 1964.

The International Business Times also has coverage of the proposed rules, including thoughts from NPPA general counsel Mickey Osterreicher. I join with Osterreicher and other free press advocates in thinking that these rules are a substantial restriction on constitutional rights and should be abandoned. While I can understand a need to regulate, for instance, large-scale film crews using federal land for Hollywood productions, it’s ridiculous to require journalists to apply and pay for permission to take pictures on wilderness land.

The Bureau of Land Management, some of whose land appears in my photograph above, does not require permits for photography.

You can comment on the proposed rules regarding permits for stills and video until November 3, 2014.

Related: A Kitsap Sun reporter had odd restrictions placed on him while covering efforts to save a historic building in Olympic National Park. He was prevented from speaking to people involved in the story, held back from the scene, and otherwise hassled during what should have been a pretty straightforward and non-confrontational reporting assignment. You can read Tristan Baurick’s final piece on the effort here.

(via friends on facebook)

Legal battles continue over ownership of Vivian Maier’s work

The legal case to determine whether Mr. Baille is Maier’s closest relative has now set in motion a process that Chicago officials say could take years and could result in Maier’s works’ being pulled from gallery inventories and museum shows until a determination is made.”
The Heir’s Not Apparent, New York Times

I wrote about the legal issues surrounding the rightful heir and owner of Vivian Maier‘s substantial body of work last year. The New York Times just published an overview of where the subject stands now, detailing a legal case filed in June 2014 which might force John Maloof and other owners of Maier’s negatives to cease publications and exhibitions of the work. In short, Virginia lawyer David C. Deal, himself a former photographer, thought that something wasn’t right in the way Maier’s copyright had been handled and searched for relatives of the nanny.

Screenshot of VivianMaier.com, the John Maloof collection
Screenshot of VivianMaier.com, the John Maloof collection

Maloof, owner of the largest collection of Maier’s negatives and prints (and producer and director of Finding Vivian Maier and countless exhibitions), had previously found a person in France who he’d thought was Maier’s closest living relative and agreed on an undisclosed settlement for the rights to the work. Deal believes he has found a closer relative of Maier’s, again in France, and now represents that person in a court case to determine whether or not he is the photographer’s closest heir. It’s a tangled case that will likely take years, but at the heart is a copyright issue.

The Vivian Maier industry (in the form of books, exhibitions, prints for sale, movies, television programs, and so on) is already worth millions of dollars. If this new possible heir is determined to be the rightful owner of the copyright, it could lead to substantial copyright infringement claims relating to most every instance of Vivian Maier’s work that has been seen in public. According to the New York Times, the state public administrator’s office in Cook County, Illinois, created an estate for Vivian Maier in July and warned Maloof and others selling the work that there may be future lawsuits over Maier’s work.

Hyperallergic also recently published a couple of articles regarding the legal issues surrounding Vivian Maier’s archive that are worth a read: Making Sense of the Legal Battle Over Vivian Maier’s Artworks and A Vivian Maier Collector Opens Up About Posthumous Printing, Maier’s Only Heir, and Her Legacy.

Putin tightens control of independent media with Russian blogging law

M. Scott Brauer - Russian opposition political activist and blogger Alexey Navalny prepares to be arrested during an unsanctioned anti-Putin demonstration in Lubyanka Square in central Moscow, Russia. Moments after this photo, police grabbed Navalny from the crowd and arrested him.  He was later released.  The protests come a year after protests in 2011 calling for fair elections and an end to corruption in Russia.  Navalny, a lawyer and political and economic activist, is known for his political blog on livejournal, which he has used to organize anti-corruption and anti-Putin demonstrations.
M. Scott Brauer – Russian opposition political activist and blogger Alexey Navalny prepares to be arrested during an unsanctioned anti-Putin demonstration in Lubyanka Square in central Moscow, Russia. Moments after this photo, police grabbed Navalny from the crowd and arrested him. He was later released. The protests come a year after protests in 2011 calling for fair elections and an end to corruption in Russia. Navalny, a lawyer and political and economic activist, is known for his political blog on livejournal, which he has used to organize anti-corruption and anti-Putin demonstrations.

After my participation in the US-Russia Young Media Professionals Exchange in late 2012, I’ve been keeping an eye on news regarding media and journalism in Russia. The latest development is a new law requiring bloggers to register with the state if they have more than 3000 visitors daily. Taking a page from other internet-censoring countries such as China and Iran, Russian bloggers with an audience that size (which is remarkably small…dvafoto frequently hits that number through our various outlets) cannot operate anonymously and must maintain an archive of their previous 6 months of posts on Russian soil. The law is widely seen as a move to stifle dissent.

Another Russian internet law, which went into effect on Feb. 1, 2014, was immediately used to shut down the blogs of well-known dissidents Alexei Navalny (seen in my image above; blog link) and Garry Kasparov (wiki). And these laws led Pavel Durov, founder of Russian Facebook-clone VKontakte, to leave the country rather than comply with orders to turn over information about political activists in Russia and Ukraine.

This follows 6 months or so of efforts to shut down or marginalize independent media in Russia. One of the biggest independent voices in Russia media, Telekanal Dozhd (TV Rain), was dropped by almost all cable providers around the country. Moscow City Court revoked the license of independent online news agency Rosbalt. Lenta.ru‘s progressive editor-in-chief was fired, and almost half of the staff lost jobs as new editors friendly to the Kremlin were brought in. The long-time director of prominent liberal radio station Ekho Moskvy was forced out and replaced with a Kremlin supporter. Putin dissolved state news agency RIA Novosti, which had been known for semi-independent reporting. I could go on, but the Committee to Protect Journalists page on Russia is a good resource to learn more.

On the subject, here’s a great overview of newspaper culture in Russia that includes a timeline of major events in the history of the Russian newspapers.

And at Wired’s Raw File blog, by the way, you can see my photo essay focusing on state-run media in Russia.