Free Press

Do You Have a Permit to Capture Those Trees on Film, Citizen?

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But what if somebody makes a revenge porn site. But for trees!
Credit: wackybadger / photo on flickr

Oh, you think government lands are public lands, American citizen? You think the wilderness belongs to you? You are good for a laugh, citizen. Now show me your permit to take photos in this forest. Don't have one? That will be $1,000, citizen. We do take checks.

That's the latest from the U.S. Forest Service, which is implementing restrictions that will require any media outlet to get a permit to take pictures or shoot footage on land under their control. The Oregonian explains the potential consequences that seem to be clear to just about everybody except the U.S. Forest Service:

Under rules being finalized in November, a reporter who met a biologist, wildlife advocate or whistleblower alleging neglect in any of the nation's 100 million acres of wilderness would first need special approval to shoot photos or videos even on an iPhone.

Permits cost up to $1,500, says Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers, and reporters who don't get a permit could face fines up to $1,000.

First Amendment advocates say the rules ignore press freedoms and are so vague they'd allow the Forest Service to grant permits only to favored reporters shooting videos for positive stories.

"It's pretty clearly unconstitutional," said Gregg Leslie, legal defense director at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Alexandria, Va. "They would have to show an important need to justify these limits, and they just can't."

The wilderness director can't explain to The Oregonian why the rule is needed. Apparently the restrictions have been in place for four years, but she couldn't recall whether any media outlet had actually paid for a permit. She invoked the Wilderness Act of 1964 and said its goal was to prevent the forests from being "exploited" for commercial gain. Obviously, taking a picture or video in the wilderness doesn't "exploit" the wilderness in any logical way even if the photographer sold the art. Do they think cameras steal the souls of rocks? Do they think there's a market for some sort of "Pine Trees Gone Wild" film series showing them getting drunk off fresh summer rain and shedding all their needles? But an expensive permitting process certainly does allow the Forest Service to "exploit" citizens for fees to pad out their budgets.

The rule also gives supervisors discretion whether to approve the permit on the basis of whether the coverage was in support of the Wilderness Act's goals. When asked whether the rule was a violation of the First Amendment, she responded that there's an exception for "breaking news." That's not how it works, federal government employee.

Read more here.

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  1. “Permits cost up to $1,500, says Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers, and reporters who don’t get a permit could face fines up to $1,000.”

    Is anyone else seeing a “loophole” here?

    1. ya think. If you don’t get caught you don’t pay anything. If you do the fine is less than the permit.

      1. “They awarded us $500 to prevent suicides or $1000 to pick up the bodies”

    2. I’m seeing a fascinating combination of cupidity and ineptitude. Greedy bureaucrats who can’t even do basic math.

    3. They’re so dumb.

      How could they be so dumb?

    4. I don’t have time to look it up, but it could be a fine of $1,000/day (typical) with the $1,500 permit good for a longer period of time.

    5. “First Amendment advocates say the rules ignore press freedoms”

      Math advocates were too busy laughing to reply.

  2. As the number of little fiefdoms within the US government increases, so does the petty tyranny and little dictators.

  3. tar and feathers

    1. It’s way past time, my friend, way past time.

  4. The forests should not be exploited for commercial gain. Instead, they should be exploited for control, government revenue, and FYTW value.

  5. If only Tsar Obama knew what his boyars were doing, he’d put a stop to it!

    Seriously, when we were discussing the administration’s harassment of journalists, a prog talked about Holder, and I added, in effect, “don’t forget Obama.” The prog said this wasn’t about Obama – I mean, he’s just Holder’s boss and stuff. Why drag Obama into this?

    1. I had a discussion with one about Ferguson, pointing out the insane regulatory structure and they came back with “this is about the police not the government”.

      1. If you have positive emotions about one and negative emotions about the other, then of course they’re distinct. This is how many people actually reason.

  6. Really? Public lands and I have to pay to take a fucking picture? Fuck off, slavers, I’m taking all the fucking pictures I want to.

    1. Ah, so it is tree porn.

  7. Oh, you think government lands are public lands, American citizen? You think the wilderness belongs to you?

    Uhh, no, I live in Washington where every fucking wide place in the road requires a license and paperwork to be filled out before you park there and stand with your hands in your pockets for a few moments. Frankly, it never occurred to me that public lands meant public lands.

    1. Bob Poole faps furiously.

  8. Under rules being finalized in November, a reporter who met a biologist, wildlife advocate or whistleblower alleging neglect in any of the nation’s 100 million acres of wilderness would first need special approval to shoot photos or videos even on an iPhone.

    Rules… being “finalized”. Who created these rules? Which elected official passed this law? What if I refuse to pay? Will I end up in jail? Is refusal to pay considered a criminal act?

  9. They can’t see the insane for the batshit. How sad.

  10. “It’s pretty clearly unconstitutional,” said Gregg Leslie, legal defense director at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Alexandria, Va. “They would have to show an important need to justify these limits, and they just can’t.”

    Hey Mr. Leslie… please stop helping.

    A law which is “clearly unconstitutional” doesn’t get to be justified if they show, you know, and important need and stuff. That’s why it’s called the fucking constitution. Jesus, even the people on my side are complete retards.

  11. The wilderness director can’t explain to The Oregonian why the rule is needed. Apparently the restrictions have been in place for four years, but she couldn’t recall whether any media outlet had actually paid for a permit. She invoked the Wilderness Act of 1964 and said its goal was to prevent the forests from being “exploited” for commercial gain

    I’m telling you, when you begin to see all regulations and laws as “cost centers” or “revenue centers”, it all begins to make sense.

  12. Hey, do any of you citizens need to take a piss today? Well, there’s a new piss tax, $1000 per year per every private or public toilet that you take a piss in.

    So if you pissed in both toilets of your own house, 5 restaurants, 2 toilets at work, and 10 other assorted toilets, your permit is $19,000 per year, payable to the MOP (Ministry of Piss). For a 5% discount, please send a urine sample for each piss you take to the MOP.

    Otherwise, the penalty is $10,000 per piss!

    /The gubmint, your imperial masters

    1. No no. The penalty is actually only $500 per piss. See above.

      1. I still get $1000

        $1000 per toilet, 19 toilets. Unless you get the discount by doing a piss test every piss you take (you don’t have anything to hide, do you?)

        1. “Permits cost up to $1,500, says Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers, and reporters who don’t get a permit could face fines up to $1,000.”

  13. Somewhere, Smokey the Bear is shaking his head in disbelief.

    1. Without pictures, there is no proof.

  14. On May 26th, 2000 the President signed into law a bill concerning commercial filming. This legislation states: “An Act: To allow the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a fee system for commercial filming activities on Federal land, and for other purposes.” Public Law 106-206, is currently being implemented on the Chugach National Forest.

    The President signed into law a bill which stated, “I hereby cede my authority to Bob, an unelected career bureaucrat who will send in a SWAT team, if necessary (he has one, by the way) to keep the peace and maintain order and do whatever is necessary to line his pockets”.

    1. filming activities on Federal land

      I think I see the problem.

  15. She invoked the Wilderness Act of 1964 and said its goal was to prevent the forests from being “exploited” for commercial gain.

    She’s worried about them sullying the purity of our pristine forests with their filthy money.

    Don’t you know that money defiles anything that it contacts?
    If you take a picture of trees and then sell the photo, you’ve just defiled the trees.

    1. Then the permit should cost “8 hours of community service” or something rather than $1000.

      I’m surprised the photos taken don’t become property of the Department Of Interior. Also surprised there isn’t a EULA that has to be agreed to before setting foot inside a US preserve.

      1. Also surprised there isn’t a EULA that has to be agreed to before setting foot inside a US preserve.

        There is. When you’re born, just before you went though the birth canal, you passed a sign which was headed in bold with the words Social Contract.

        I saw it, didn’t you?

  16. Grotesquely unconstitutional.

    I expect an 8-1 SCOTUS opinion upholding the rule. The one dissenter will be Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who does a pitch-perfect Emily Litella impersonation in voting against the rule.

  17. This is what happens when you don’t let them watch porn.

    1. +1 youngleaf.com (so I’ve heard…from a friend)

  18. If a citizen without a permit takes a picture of a tree in the public forest, does the SWAT team breaking and entering his/her neighbor’s house (wrong address! doncha know) at 2:00am, without a warrant, shooting his/her dog and terrorizing his/her spouse and children, does the flashbang get thrown into the child/childrens’ room before or after opening fire with the automatic weapons?

    And does it make a sound?

  19. “First Amendment advocates say the rules ignore press freedoms and are so vague they’d allow the Forest Service to grant permits only to favored reporters shooting videos for positive stories.”

    I hope the implication is not that these “First Amendment advocates” think that press freedoms only apply to reporters.

  20. The producer of The Oregon Field Guide says they are ignoring it.

  21. The USFS’s stupidity knows no bounds. I did graduate work in natural resources management back in the 1990’s and the coursework was eye opening. Case in point. The USFS flack referenced the Wilderness Act when that is not the controlling statute in this case (pointed out above) and the WA does not prohibit commercial use of designated wilderness- across the west these areas are used commercially. You can’t use engines, wheeled transportation or make lasting impacts, but you can use the land. The most amazing thing is that the USFS (and BLM) lose money on every lumber auction and almost every grazing permit. The costs of establishing a lumber tract, or administering a grazing district far surpass the money passing to the US treasury. This is before the lawsuits following from not following their own rules. Hell even when a at loss lumber auction makes sense for another reason (think fire control) they screw it up.

  22. Quick trivia question: Q- Which entity in the US controls and maintains the most miles of roads in the country? A- The USFS

  23. Interesting question: Is this a first amendment issue or a property rights issue? http://www.libertybriefing.com…..attack/287

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