Photographers Oppose Government’s Proposed Permit Requirements
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Photographers Oppose Government’s Proposed Permit Requirements
Four major photography organizations have united in opposition to a proposal that would require photographers to apply and pay for permits and fees when creating images “for which a fee will be received or which are for other than personal use” at the United States National Arboretum in Washington, DC.

The groups, Professional Photographers of America, Commercial Photographers International, the International Association of Professional Event Photographers and the Student Photographic Society represent some 16,000 professional photographers and students.

The primary argument against the proposed rule is that it violates a federal law that is already on the books giving still photographers a permit exemption unless their activities go well beyond the kinds of activities one would expect from a regular visitor. Not willing to rely on the Department of Agriculture to agree with their interpretation of the statute, the groups made two additional arguments. The first is that the proposed rule would be a source of confusion since it is inconsistent with the permit rules on almost all other lands administered by the Secretary of Agriculture. They also point out that any permit process that depends on the end use of the image, as opposed to the physical acts of the photographer on-site, makes even-handed enforcement of the rule impossible.

Speaking on behalf of the groups, PPA CEO David Trust noted, “While most of our members will never attempt to photograph at the National Arboretum, stopping this proposal should reduce the chances of similar proposals being made at other USDA and Forestry Service facilities located throughout the nation.”

In addition to opposing the proposed definition of the types of photography requiring a permit, the organizations also pointed to the need for a clarification of a section of the rule allowing only “non-commercial tripods” on Arboretum grounds. Instead of a vague standard, the groups suggest that the rule contain specific references to the actual specifications that will result in a tripod being prohibited from the area.

No date has been set for the Department of Agriculture to respond to the comments or amend the proposed rule.

Get the full text of the organizations’ comments:

The text of the rule proposed by the Department of Agriculture: 27394.pdf