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A Felony To Take A Picture Of A Farm In Florida?


You’re driving down the road in Florida and you see a beautiful orange grove, or a cow with a silhouette of Jesus on her. You’ll have to resist the urge to take a photograph unless you have the owner’s permission, at least if a Florida legislator has his way. Here’s part of a bill proposed by Senator Jim Norman:

(2) A person who photographs, video records, or otherwise produces images or pictorial records, digital or otherwise, at or of a farm or other property where legitimate agriculture operations are being conducted without the written consent of the owner, or an authorized representative of the owner, commits a felony of the first degree …

A felony? Why pass such a law? Would it pass constitutional muster? As reported by The Florida Tribune:

Media law experts say the ban would violate freedoms protected in the U. S. Constitution. But Wilton Simpson, a farmer who lives in Norman’s district, said the bill is needed to protect the property rights of farmers and the “intellectual property” involving farm operations.

Simpson, president of Simpson Farms near Dade City, said the law would prevent people from posing as farmworkers so that they can secretly film agricultural operations.

So this is a problem in Florida?

[Mr. Simpson] said he could not name an instance in which that happened. But animal rights groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Animal Freedom display undercover videos on their web sites to make their case that livestock farming and meat consumption are cruel.

Sorry Mr. Simpson, but The Juice agrees with this lady.

Judy Dalglish, executive director for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said shooting property from a roadside or from the air is legal. The bill “is just flat-out unconstitutional not to mention stupid,” she said.

Here’s the proposed law, and here’s the rest of the Trib article.