NM Commuter train bans photography

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by nc5p, Feb 12, 2009.

  1. nc5p

    nc5p Member

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    The article is quoted in this link, the original can be seen at abqjournal.com, but you have to go through a bunch of commercial junk to get to it.

    http://www.photopermit.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3736

    In short the indians don't want their land photographed from the nearby railroad. Now I have nothing against them stopping people who step foot on their property, but this is stretching things a bit far. What's next, airplanes? I'm concerned a precedent will be set that allows them to go after people photographing from completely off their land. I have a substantial view of tribal mountain land from my home. I'll be d***ed if I stop photographing scenery from my front porch! I do know a lot of people feel sorry for them for the way their ancestors were treated but remember they own casinos now.
     
  2. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    You twist the circumstance in your telling.

    It isn't the photographing of the land,
    it is the photographing of the pueblo.

    If a guy set up a camera on the sidewalk
    and started shooting my home
    I'd run him off... and so would you !
     
  3. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    If one lived in a sufficiently attractive house there would be people outside taking pictures and painting watercolors. If the crowd of photographers go to be too much I imagine the house owner could be charged with 'maintaining an attractive nuisance'.
     
  4. AllenR

    AllenR Member

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    Virtually all of the reservations here in New Mexico, and elsewhere, have bans against photography, so I don't see any problem with what the Railrunner has done. The reservations are, after all, sovereign nations that have the right to set and enforce whatever regulations they choose. We need to respect that.
     
  5. cloudhands

    cloudhands Member

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    I think it's ridiculous. I went to Acoma Pueblo here in NM with my GF a couple weeks ago. Paid the $10 photo fee but they wouldn't let me bring my tripod as it was "too professional" or some such nonsense. I was a little bent out of shape about it, to be honest. I have this problem where I think the rules shouldn't apply to me :smile:
    After some thought, however, I came to the realization that hey, it's their land and they can do with it what they want. I don't agree with it at all, I don't believe me taking photos with a tripod would damage the Acoma culture, nor do I believe taking photos from a train would steal something from the San Fellipe culture. But that's not the point. I would certainly reserve the right to tell someone to put away the camera if they came into my house and started snapping pictures.
     
  6. rthomas

    rthomas Member

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    So, how long before it will be legal to OWN a camera but not legal to actually USE one? I respect their decision to protect their property rights, but the general principle in the US is that you aren't trespassing if you are on a public right of way (as far as I know, transportation corridors usually are publicly owned). This is no different than the claim of some private property owners in LA and other cities that they own the sidewalk (they don't).

    Another thought that's been on my mind about this issue recently is: how long before this type of ban impacts tourist income? I've already had doubts about going to certain parts of my own country (say, New York City), due to news stories about photographers getting hassled for "looking too professional" or photographing high security areas like public parks. Maybe photographers should stage a boycott or protest?
     
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  7. AllenR

    AllenR Member

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    Assuming that all US laws are applicable on reservations is a mistake. As I said before, they are sovereign nations and what state, local and federal laws apply is a complicated matter. Generally, state and local laws do not apply. Beyond that, determining what applies is best left up to legal experts. To get an inkling of the complexities take a look at this:

    http://www.airpi.org/pubs/indinsov.html
     
  8. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    No; I absolutely would not...and if you would, you belong in a different country.

    Public view = public domain.

    Attempting to "run [someone] off" from a *public* sidewalk because they are doing something *you* don't like is attempting to violate someone's constitutional rights; the worst thing you can do in this country, philosophically and politically speaking. If I was that guy, and you tried to run me off for shooting anything in the public view, you'd be in the wrong, and I'd call the police, who would back me up as they have always done in numerous of these circumstances. You would have every right to stand in front of my camera sans legal "harassment" of me, but as an American, you could not ethically run me off, nor could you legally do it.

    In this country, if you don't want someone to photograph your house, and expect to have a court enforce your desire (with a trespassing conviction, which is all they would do anyhow), then keep the house out of the public view. With some exceptions for certain facilities, if the public can see it, the public can photograph it. Very simple.

    As for the train thingy, it could go either way. Are the train cars themselves private or public? It's basically as simple as that.
     
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  9. eric

    eric Member

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    Last time I was at Taos was 1986 and they charged for taking pictures. Its the least we can do...we did, after all, as a nation, F*ed all of those guys. They can set the rules however they want. Its their sandbox and we're playing in it.

    The new glass promontory near Grand Canyon don't even allow photography on that thing.
     
  10. rthomas

    rthomas Member

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    Ok, native land is sovereign, I do understand that. I'm not arguing that anybody should take advantage of Native Americans (whose heritage I do share a small part of).

    But, I have a question. Can I draw a sketch from the train? Can I write down a description of the scene? Or do they control that too? Maybe we should just black out the windows.

    I don't mean to get smart about this, but honestly, what harm is there in photos taken from a moving train? How is anyone damaged? There is a story out on the internet about a public pier in Santa Monica, where the security will only allow you to photograph your family, and apparently don't want to see any "professional" cameras. Apparently if they see you taking "random" pictures they will hassle you. It's this general attitude that upsets me. http://blogs.laweekly.com/ladaily/city-news/photog-feels-santa-monica-pier/
     
  11. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I agree that it is idiotic, but you can't apply logic to the situation. All you can do is apply the laws.
     
  12. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    We all have rights,
    and they are usually in opposition.
    Yours, and mine.
    YOURS vs mine.
    That's a good thing.

    We have laws,
    which really are the lowest common denominator
    of social behavior. Also, good.

    For those times when our manners and common sense break down.

    Nothing brings that to bear more efficiently than
    the right of a photographer, in public, to take pictures.

    If I ask if I may photograph you, you may say "yes" or "no".

    If I don't ask permission, you may tell me to stop.

    If I am polite, I stop.
    If I want to shove my 'rights' in your face,
    I keep shooting.

    Rights, manners, common sense.
    Testosterone, Selfishness, Greed, and Muleheadedness.

    My right to take pictures of whatever the hell I want,
    your right to be left alone.

    All interesting words. Like harassment, bullying and battery.

    Manners and common sense,
    handy things,
    because we ALL have rights.
     
  13. david b

    david b Member

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    New Mexico cut a deal with the Reservations to have the trains run through their properties, therefore it is not public property.

    When nearing the reservations, you will be told to put away the camera. I am not sure how well that will be enforced but I am sure that will be on my local news soon enough.

    Also, I was at the Taos Pueblo about two years ago. I had to pay $5 (or was it $10) per camera and I was verbally told I was not allowed to sell the photos I made there. They did not care about the tripod. Oh well. Their land, their laws.

    And if ever in downtown albuquerque, try to photograph the federal building. You'll be told you can't do that either, even though it is surround by public property.
     
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  15. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    The issue is whether the train cars themselves are public property, not the land. It is not "public property" so much as "public view" that makes the determination. Private property is fair game if it is visible from public property. (If this was not the case, almost NOTHING could be photographed...at least not out and about; no cars except gov't cars, no buildings except gov't buildings, etc. You could photograph pavement, parks, and infrastructure items, and that's it.) If the native Americans made a deal to allow public (AKA NM, county, U.S., etc. gov't owned) property onto their land, then they are placing their land into the public view, and photos may be taken from that public property. If the train is public, and if the banning of photography from a public train was part of the deal to have the train go through the land, and if this is enforced by the government that has jurisdiction over the train, there is an issue that can be argued in the courts. A government cannot make a contract that includes the restriction of its citizens' constitutional rights. Likewise, the natives can stop the train from going through their land due to breach of contract if the ban is not enforced.

    If the train is private, then riders are subject to the train company's regulations regarding photography.

    I suspect that the train is privately owned, it which case this is an open and shut case: NO PICTURES.
     
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  16. Terence

    Terence Member

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    I would not. If he is on public property, he has every right in the world to photograph your house. He may or may not need a release depending what commercial use it was being used for, if any.

    Why, exactly, would you run him off? What are you afraid of?
     
  17. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    The release is not a legal requirement to make money off the pic, but a requirement that depends on the publisher of the photographs, such as the specific photo agency or magazine. I can take a picture of your house from a public sidewalk and either wipe my arse with it, sell it for a million bux, or anything in between.

    If it puts anyone at ease, I won't be doing any of these things with a picture of your house.
     
  18. AllenR

    AllenR Member

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    Reservations are, since the phrase "sovereign nations" didn't seem to get the point across, autonomous foreign countries within the boundaries of the United States. All of the laws and rights that you reference are to a very large extent no more applicable there than they are in Tibet.
     
  19. Terence

    Terence Member

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    Agreed. That's why I said it may or may not be "required". I should qualify what "required" even means. It's not a legal requirement. It's only a way to avoid financial liability in the event that someone tries to prove you are unfairly using an image of someone or something and implying that they endorse your product, etc.
     
  20. DOES NOT APPLY!
    DOES NOT APPLY!
    DOES NOT APPLY!

    That is a sovereign nation. At some reservations you can photograph anything. At others there are restrictions. In Monument Valley which is in a sovereign nation there are only three restrictions for photography:
    1) Commercial photography requires a permit. If you are not shooting commercially then you can even use a tripod if you want.
    2) Do not ever, under any circumstances photograph a house or dwelling.
    3) If you want to visit/photograph beyond the area permitted for the public you need a guide who will help you avoid treading on sacred land.

    Steve
     
  21. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    You don't need attitude or exaggeration to try to make a point, first of all. Next, the phrase "sovereign nation" is a far-from-accurate legal description of native reservations. Though it is usually how they choose to describe themselves, it is simply not correct. They are NOT sovereign nations. They are domestic dependent nations in the eyes of the Federal government, and are held to the Constitution of the United States. The assertion by a few posters here that U.S. Constitutional protections do not apply on reservations is ill-informed. Their main separation is from state and local governments, and not from the Federal government. Federal law holds superiority over native law if ever there is a dispute over jurisdiction, and for certain crimes, the Federal government can actually come in, make arrests, and try defendants in Federal court. Thirdly, they have the same basic 1st amendment rights written into their individual constitutions to protect their own press and citizens as well as outsiders (and these constitutions are Federally approved), so you are double covered with your camera, *if* the train is public property. (As I said before, it probably isn't, so NO PICTURES is the bottom line, but this has to do with the fact that it is private property and not native sovereignty.) Finally, they trounce the Constitution over and over again with the defense of sovereignty. Like anything in this country, it just takes time and the right case/s to move things up the courts...but when it comes to Constitutional debates, the U.S. Constitution is supreme. It will take somebody getting busted for it and appealing it all the way up. As we well know if we know anything about U.S. history, Constitutional protections can take well over 100 years to be enforced in some cases.

    "DOES NOT APPLY!
    DOES NOT APPLY!
    DOES NOT APPLY!"

    Why do you have to yell it three times? Is this a school yard, where the guy who yells the loudest and the most repetitiously gets his way? It is bad enough that the content is wrong in the first place without the boldface repetition.
     
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  22. redrockcoulee

    redrockcoulee Member

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    Does it matter if the train is public property or privately owned if the train is on private property? If two buses go onto a large ranch or other private own property would those riding on a chartered bus from the school board have more or different rights than those on a bus chartered from a private company? I would think not as they are on private property the rules of the land apply, not ownership of the vehicle.

    Two years ago I was at several pueblos photographing and there were photo fees and the people very friendly and those not friendly just ignored me, no tripod rules and I was able to use two cameras. I see the fees as no different than entrance fee to a park, I got the right to photography and they got some money for whatever the fund is. I would assume that the commuter train is leasing the right to travel across the First Nations land and that is a term of the lease.
     
  23. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    While as a "journalist" I am appalled on an ethical level by a biased opinion piece disguised as news (regardless of whether or not I agree with the author, which I do), this section from the article not only answers the public/private question, but also pretty much sums up exactly how I feel about it:

    "When I asked Rael, for instance, how he could expect to enforce a prohibition on taking photographs from a public right-of-way (which is what the Rail Runner track is now that it's been sold to the state), he acknowledged that he probably couldn't.

    But what separates good people from jerks is the ability to temper "I wanna" and "I can" with "do I really hafta?" and "I won't."

    So, we're back on the train and it's clicking toward Santa Fe. Out of the west-facing windows, a pretty scene comes into view of San Felipe Pueblo sitting low-slung and tawny along the banks of the glittering Rio Grande. It's like a postcard: picture perfect.

    The conductor says, Don't shoot.

    Can you?

    Probably. You're on a public right of way, not on pueblo land.

    Should you?

    Most definitely not. San Felipe Pueblo doesn't want it, and you don't need it. I can tell you from personal experience that all you have to do is see it, really see it, and you'll carry it with you for a long time.

    So, will you?

    That probably depends on whether you're a New Mexican or whether you just live here. "
     
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  24. davela

    davela Subscriber

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    Google and other entities do it all day long all over America - nothing illegal about it.

     
  25. donbga

    donbga Member

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    Or you will have to apply for a license to purchase film! :smile:
     
  26. Joe VanCleave

    Joe VanCleave Member

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    I think this is the key concept that needs to be grasped, that of "right of way". In agreeing to a public right of way, the Pueblo government agrees to the rights of the public being preserved as they would be in any other public right of way; that's what the term means.

    So, there are many state highways in New Mexico that pass through reservation land; there are reservation law enforcement officers that enforce New Mexico traffic laws on these public highways, along with State Police, and County Sheriffs, too. And the reservation police can't enforce Pueblo law on public right of way, only NM public law. Thus, they can ticket you for speeding, but not for improperly observing the Harvest Moon Corn Dance, for instance.

    Now, the thing that gets sticky pertains to any contractual agreement between the State and the Pueblo pertaining to how the public right of way would be managed or enforced, especially if it involves restricting activity that would otherwise be acceptable in any other public right of way. If this were the case (and I haven't seen evidence to support this, only heresay,)then it would unfortunately muddle the whole situation in a protracted legal hassle, should someone in the public, who felt their rights were being restricted unfairly by the State, chose legal action.

    Since this train line is also used, and was recently owned by, the BNSF railroad, I wonder what legal agreement they had (if any) for the line running through reservation land. I'm almost certain if there were such an agreement it dates from way back.

    I suppose we'll have to be careful and use common sense when riding the RailRunner and carrying a camera.

    ~Joe