Rule clarifies who must pay to film in Idaho state parks

Published 01-15-2019

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Lawmakers have advanced a proposed rule giving a sharper focus on who can take photos and record moving images in Idaho state parks without a permit.

The House Resources and Conservation Committee on Tuesday voted 16-2 to approve moving ahead with the new rule proposed by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. The proposal has several more steps to clear before it would take effect.

It says photographers or businesses recording images to make money from their work will need a permit, while casual photographers will be exempt. The new rule classifies recording images for newsgathering purposes as exempt. Parks officials also said nonprofit groups would be exempt.

A parks official told lawmakers the current rule needs to be updated because of the proliferation of smartphones and other digital devices that can upload photos and moving images to social media sites.

"Our whole intent of this rule way back when was for those who are making true movies, impacting the park to a great degree," said David White, a regional manager for the parks department. "Someone coming in and making a film, putting it out on YouTube, posting it somewhere else - we've looked at that as helping promote the park in some respects."

White acknowledged that some social media sites can produce revenue for content producers. But he also noted that park rangers could easily spot more ambitious commercial endeavors that would likely use large cameras and models or props, which are specifically noted in the new rule.

The Department of Parks and Recreation oversees 30 state parks that draw thousands of visitors. But White noted that parks have also drawn for-profit interests, including car dealerships seeking to make commercials.

He said the application fee for a permit is remaining at $100. He said after an application is made, the parks department negotiates with the commercial entity to determine what type of impact will be absorbed by the park and other visitors in setting a fee.

Rep. Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley, questioned why a permit and fee was needed. "What's so wrong with people making money for taking pictures in the park?" she asked.

White said opening up state parks to anybody who wanted to make money could greatly change what happens in state parks, and noted that fees are charged for other activities on state lands. "The only reason they can make that money is because we're offering them that o

The Department of Parks and Recreation oversees 30 state parks that draw thousands of visitors. But White noted that parks have also drawn for-profit interests, including car dealerships seeking to make commercials.

He said the application fee for a permit is remaining at $100. He said after an application is made, the parks department negotiates with the commercial entity to determine what type of impact will be absorbed by the park and other visitors in setting a fee.

Rep. Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley, questioned why a permit and fee was needed. "What's so wrong with people making money for taking pictures in the park?" she asked.

White said opening up state parks to anybody who wanted to make money could greatly change what happens in state parks, and noted that fees are charged for other activities on state lands. "The only reason they can make that money is because we're offering them that opportunity in a unique setting to do that," he said.

Besides Moon, Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, also voted against the new rule but didn't comment.

Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, voted for the rule but suggested it be revisited next year because the state claiming "even a quasi-intellectual property right in images of its parks distresses me. It's public."

She was concerned that the parks department didn't have clear penalties for violators; White said he wasn't aware of anyone being penalized in the last 20 years.

"I think there's a constitutional vagueness concern in that it's not clear to people what the repercussions are," for breaking the rule, Rubel said.

Rep. Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley, questioned why a permit and fee was needed. "What's so wrong with people making money for taking pictures in the park?" she asked.

White said opening up state parks to anybody who wanted to make money could greatly change what happens in state parks, and noted that fees are charged for other activities on state lands. "The only reason they can make that money is because we're offering them that opportunity in a unique setting to do that," he said.

Besides Moon, Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, also voted against the new rule but didn't comment.

Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, voted for the rule but suggested it be revisited next year because the state claiming "even a quasi-intellectual property right in images of its parks distresses me. It's public."

She was concerned that the parks department didn't have clear penalties for violators; White said he wasn't aware of anyone being penalized in the last 20 years.

"I think there's a constitutional vagueness concern in that it's not clear to people what the repercussions are," for breaking the rule, Rubel said.

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