Intellectual Property in Farm Operations?

No taking pictures of our farms... we got that there int'llecuel propartah right!

This just in from the “could Flori-duh get any dumber” department.

SB 1246 by Sen. Jim Norman, R-Tampa, would make it a first-degree felony to photograph a farm without first obtaining written permission from the owner. A farm is defined as any land “cultivated for the purpose of agricultural production, the raising and breeding of domestic animals or the storage of a commodity.” (source)

It seems that the motivation for the bill is because PETA engages in undercover filming operations to expose animal abuse on farms. Of course, instead of targeting that behavior, the bill just sweeps all farm photography into one pile.

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. (source

Unconstitutional and stupid. Just another day in the Flori-duh legislature, Ms. Dalglish.

EDIT: A reader has this post on the issue. Very nicely done.

9 Responses to Intellectual Property in Farm Operations?

  1. evrenseven says:

    I’m going to have to disagree with you on this one Marc. Could you photograph the inner workings of factory? Of course not. An entire farm probably has to be outdoors (barring giant, giant greenhouses) so the farmer doesn’t have the luxury of keeping his farming methods behind walls and security card accessible doors.

    If you want a *real* story about IP abuse relating to the farming industry, check out Monsanto’s soybean monopoly. On a smaller scale, google “urban homesteading trademark.”

    • Marc says:

      Haven’t they ever heard of fences and no trespassing signs? And if they’re that worried about their secrets being exposed, keep them further away from the road.

      Saying “don’t look over here, or we’ll have you arrested” seems pretty silly. And if protecting your “secret methods” were the true issue, I’ve gotta say that people looking at it would be just as big a problem as people photographing.

    • - says:

      simple answer: one can photograph the interior of any structure from offsite, if one can.

  2. Maybe I just don’t know enough about farming. But, it would seem to me that seeds go in ground, plant comes up. Is there really something that needs to be protected here?

    • evrenseven says:

      It’s quite a bit more complicated than that when you’re talking about large scale operations. Let’s say that you figure out that if you lay fertilizer down in a certain order, during a certain time of day, it increases yield. I’m sure Flor-duh already has trade secret laws that protect it, but I guess this guy thought it wasn’t enough of a deterrent.

  3. Mark M says:

    Also, not mentioned here, he doesn’t just want to make it illegal—he want’s it to be a first-degree felony! And it’s not just photographs, it’s “images or pictorial records, digital or otherwise.” I assume a painting will also put you in the slammer.

    It is absurd. I wrote a bit more here.

  4. David Sanger says:

    Even more nutty – you need written permission from the owner even to set foot on a farm.

    (1) A person who enters onto 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, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, Florida Statutes.

    No more dropping by to see Farmer John without an invite from his landlord.

  5. andrews says:

    The fine folks up in/near Chattahoochee have reduced it to a misdemeanor. Committee substitute #1 for SB1246.

  6. Alfie says:

    Ah, another intellectual property debate… and it’s from the farming industry… what’s next?

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