Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

This is getting ridiculous.

Utah, the American state founded by Mormons, is banning the photography of farms and farm animals.

The bill is called HB187, and the Utah Senate passed it on a 24-5 vote. Then the Utah House approved the Senate amendments 62-13. The bill goes to Governor Gary Herbert for his signature of approval today.

No doubt it will pass, and become law, and we’ll have another of those quaint old statutes such as a Welshman caught on the streets in Chester after midnight can be hanged, London cabbies must carry a bale of hay in their boots, and you’re not allowed to photograph Trafalgar Square.

Now every rational human — and quite a few irrational ones — will be scratching their heads and asking, “What is that all about?”

Well, as far as I can ascertain, farmers in Utah are fed up with rogue photographers snapping images of their appalling, brutal, barbarous, inhumane and mediaeval practices. Of course, I could be wrong, but that’s the way it looks from this Atlantic shore. By depriving humans of their rights, the Utah legislature is allowing unscrupulous people to go about depriving animals of their rights.

Talking about mediaeval, those Mormons would have been denounced as heretics by the Spanish Inquisition. And everyone knows what happened to heretics. It was appalling, brutal, barbarous and inhumane. And nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Those Americans, eh? What are they like? They describe their country as the home of the brave and the land of the free. Not in Utah, it isn’t. What jolly japes will they get up to next? In the words of Cerys Matthews, longtime resident of the USA, “Every day, when I wake up, I thank the Lord I’m Welsh.”

And I’m not planning to visit Utah any time soon.

Or Chester, come to think of it.

The excellent Photo Archive News has today run a piece on a proposed piece of legislation which will affect any photographers who hope to take photographs in London’s Trafalgar Square or Parliament Square Garden and upload them to a picture library such as fotoLibra.

Here’s the relevant draft legislation from The Trafalgar Square Byelaws [2012]:

5.       Acts within the Square for which written permission is required

(1)       Unless acting in accordance with permission given in writing by the Mayor, or any person authorised by the Mayor under section 380 of the Act to give such permission, no person shall within the Square —

(p)  take photographs or film or make any other recordings of visual images for the purpose of or in connection with a business, trade, profession or employment or any activity carried on by a person or body of persons, whether corporate or unincorporate;

Effectively this means it will be illegal to photograph Nelson’s Column without written permission.

This may be impossibly difficult to enforce, but nevertheless if it gets on to the statute books it will be the law. Should some pocket Hitler of a bureaucrat decide to get nasty, he will have The Law On His Side.

So it is in all our interests to prevent this baffling and unnecessary piece of legislation becoming word of law. It is hard to see who benefits from this proposed legislation. It is much easier to see another small erosion of the freedom of photographers.

The proposed byelaws have now been signed, which means they are well on their way to becoming law. There is still a faint chance they might listen to reason, because they say:

Any objection to the confirmation of the Byelaws may be made by letter addressed to Carl Schnackenberg, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2-4 Cockspur Street, London SW1Y 5DH, or by email to: Carl.Schnackenberg@Culture.gsi.gov.uk.

Please write and tell Mr Schnackenberg how you feel. The deadline is February 29th.