Photographers Rights – The Ansel Adams Bill

House Bill 5893 (H.R.5893) known as the Ansel Adams Act was introduced on January 2nd, 2015 by Texas Representative Steve Stockman. It seeks to protect the first amendment rights of photographers making images in public venues such as state and federal parks, etc.

Individual officers, mostly in response to threats to national security, which are well known, have been instructed to restrict photography in certain areas. The problem is simple. Amateur or professional photographers with tripods and good equipment are the least likely threats to security in areas easily seen by the public. A bad guy will take a quick snapshot and be on his way with whatever he is looking for while the good guys pay the price with restrictions.

It reminds me of elementary school where the whole class had to put their heads down because the class clown offended the teacher. I was never sure what that was supposed to accomplish. Perhaps the idea was that peer pressure would resolve the issues with the clown. Right. Like that would happen.

Here is the first part of the bill. The entire bill is available here. If you are so inclined, contacting your representative to support this bill would be a good idea and help all photographers maintain their first amendment rights to make images.

 Congress finds as follows:
            (1) In recent years, the Federal Government has enacted 
        regulations to prohibit or restrict photography in National 
        Parks, public spaces, and of government buildings, law 
        enforcement officers, and other government personnel carrying 
        out their duties.
            (2) In recent years, photographers on Federal lands and 
        spaces have been threatened with seizure and forfeiture of 
        photographic equipment and memory cards, and have been arrested 
        or threatened with arrest for merely recording what the eye can 
        see from public spaces.
            (3) Even in the absence of laws or regulations, Federal law 
        enforcement officers, other government personnel, and private 
        contractors have been instructed to prohibit photography from 
        public spaces, and threatened photographers with arrest or 
        seizure of photographic equipment.
            (4) Arresting photographers, seizing photographic 
        equipment, and requirements to obtain permits, pay fees, or buy 
        insurance policies are abridgments of freedom of speech and of 
        the press.
            (5) The First Amendment of the United States Constitution 
        states, ``Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the 
        freedom of speech, or of the press.''.
            (6) Still and motion photographs are speech.
            (7) The photography by Ansel Adams and other famous 
        photographers helped bring home to Americans the beauty and 
        fragility of our natural resources.
            (8) Ansel Adams' photographs helped build public support to 
        make Yosemite into a National Park.
            (9) Future ``Ansel Adams'' must not have their paths 
        blocked, regulated and made more expensive with fees and fines, 
        or be threatened with arrest and seizure of their equipment.