Journalism Groups Oppose Photo Fees and Permits in Va. Local Parks

February 11, 2015

A coalition of journalism and photography groups objected to requirements for permits and fees for photography in the public parks of Fairfax County, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, DC. In a February 4, 2015, letter to the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA), the 14 groups asked the agency to revise its rules to protect photojournalists' First Amendment rights. The Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) was among them.

The existing FCPA policy, which was open for public comment, requires permits and fees for "professional photography," which might include wedding photography, for example.

"Your proposed rules create an unnecessary and burdensome distinction between amateur and professional photographers," the groups told FCPA. "Whether the images being made and recorded are for journalism, weddings or any other type of photography/filming ..., distinguishing between professional photographers and amateurs who are doing precisely the same things, at the same times, and in the same places, is arbitrary, capricious and unconstitutional."

The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), SEJ, and other groups have objected to similar policies by federal land-management agencies.

In addition to SEJ and NPPA, the groups included the American Photographic Artists, American Society of Media Photographers, American Society of News Editors, Associated Press Media Editors, Association of Alternative Newsmedia, Graphic Artists Guild, North American Nature Photography Association, PACA Digital Media Licensing Association, Radio Television Digital News Association, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Society of Environmental Journalists, Society of Professional Journalists, and the White House News Photographers Association.

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