RTDNA protests photography restrictions in LA public park

August 4, 2017 09:30

RTDNA has joined with the ACLU of Southern California, the National Press Photographers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and other journalism groups in a letter, protesting a blanket ban on photography and videography in a public park by the City of Los Angeles.

The city is attempting to enforce the ban at Pershing Square, a downtown park, during events that are part of a summer concert series. The city says it is contractually obligated to the acts performing in the concert series to prohibit all photos and video. The ACLU is objecting, because the venue is a public park, open to all.

The letter reads in part, "Pershing Square is a public forum, and remains one during the Summer Concert Series. The Park does not suddenly become a non-public forum even if the City in some way yields control of the park to a concert promoter or other private party during the concerts, contrary to the City’s belief and practice.... Numerous courts have rejected the argument that private contracting over traditional public forums abrogates the government’s First Amendment obligations." The groups go on to say a blanket ban on photos and video is, "...unconstitutionally overbroad because it prohibits a large range of activities that do not violate copyright law." They add that there are already legal remedies available for any video gathered beyond the bounds of "fair use."

The letter also objects to a rule prohibiting the distribution of pamphlets, flyers, or other printed, non-commercial materials at the park during the concert series, calling it an unconstitutional restriction of free speech in a public space, noting the city has lost in court over similar issues in the past.

You can read the full letter here.