This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 30, 2013 10:18 AM. The previous post in this blog was Breaking news: Sam Rands were bad managers. The next post in this blog is Admiral Randy: above the law. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Can city charge you to take photos of "white stag" sign?

Steve Morgan

After we broke the story that the City of Portland is planning to charge people to display photos of the "white stag" sign, most of the mainstream media in town picked it up. But of course, none of them have asked the right question, which is: Does the city have the legal right to charge people to take and display pictures of the sign?

We're no expert in this area of law, but as we understand it, the public has the absolute right to photograph what it sees from the public right-of-way. And so the city can't charge you to take the picture, or to look at the picture you've taken.

But if you want to publish the picture -- post it on the internet, print it out in a book or a magazine, show it in broadcast media -- it's a different question. Does anybody out there know where the legal lines are drawn in this area?

If the published photo does not imply that the city government is endorsing a particular product or service, where does it say that you have to pay them a fee to display the city's sign? Besides, the sign doesn't say "City of Portland" -- it just says "Portland, Oregon," which is a location, not a legal entity.

One thing we know for sure: When the city tells you that you owe it money, it's best not to take their word for it. And in this case, we wouldn't be at all surprised if it's a bunch of hot air, and if the city can't charge you to do anything with that image. Not that it won't blow six figures paying lawyers to try to crush anyone who challenges it.

Comments (25)

I'm not a lawyer, but it would seem to me it's not up to the public to prove they have a right to photograph and disseminate images of the sign -- it's up to Leonard to prove that they don't.

If it's a photo or video of something in a public space, the city is TSOL. It's one thing to pay for access to areas generally not accessible to the public, such as the interior of the Empire State Building. This, though, is gibberish. Not only do I want to see what happens when the City of Portland tries to hit photographers with a bill for the use of that image, but I want to see if the CoP is stupid enough to fight it all the way to the Supreme Court. (I wouldn't be surprised if there's a legal precedent elsewhere for a case like this, and the plaintiff was slapped down. If it wasn't, every tourist who shot photos of Mount Rushmore or Niagara Falls could theoretically be sued for nonpayment for any use of those attractions as well.)

"That'll be $100, Jack. Pay up or we'll report you to Experian, stop your garbage pick-up, lien your house, and put it up for Sheriff's sale." ~ City of Portland, Public Relations Dept. (Portland - The City That Jerks.).

Maybe Hales will put a stop to this garbage. The finance office at City Hall needs a thorough cleaning.

One can only hope. But, Portland City Council's Regular Agenda never changes:

1. Old Business

2. New Business

3. Monkey Business

So if a professional photographer takes a photo of the Hawthorne Bridge or the Statue of Liberty do they have to secure permission from the governmental entities that own those structures before they put the image in their gallery for sale, etc.? I doubt it. Similarly, if the same photographer takes a photo of a private structure while they are standing in the public right of way, do they have to secure permission from the owner before they attempt to sell the photos? How about an artist who paints or draws imagesof these same structures? What if the same photographer/artist-shoot/draws/paints a city skyline, do they need to get permission from the owner of each and every building appearing in their work? Are they claiming that this sign is somehow a work of art unto itself which gives it special status under the intellectual property laws? The City Attorney needs to articulate the rationale behind this bizarre attempt to charge professional photographers/artists if it is based on the copyright laws, etc.

Why don't those a-holes in the labyrinth of city departments spend their time working on solutions to real problems? If I were the mayor, I'd fire anybody promoting insipid and petty initiatives like this one.

Off with their PERS!

The City seems always willing to hand out taxpayer dollars to developers to promote the construction of more dense bunkers, to market downtown and the transit mall, for user free bicycle infrastructure and to promote bicycling, etc. Therefore, instead of charging people for displaying images of the White Stag sign, the City should be paying them for any display or publication as promotion for Portland.

So do WE need permission from WASTE MANAGEMENT (and pay a fee) to take a photo of their many, many different garbage/slop/recycling/compost containers?

And when I say "WE", Jack... I mean YOU.

Just think of the revenues the National Park Service could generate! The Federal deficit will be down the nothing in no time.

It may come down to whatever can be done to pick pocket the people clean.

It reminds me of the French and the Eiffel Tower. The Tower has long been in the public domain, but in the late 1980s they added special lights to it, so much so that it was deemed to be a new and original creation, and that any night time photos were copyright protected. The French version of the Supreme Court agreed.

It looks like these nimrods at city hall believe Portland is Paris and their little neon sign is the equivalent of the Eiffel Tower. Is that delusional or what?

I know next to nothing about intellectual property law, but I have drifting around in my over crammed brain the idea that a governmental body can't patent or copyright anything.

Wasn't the patent question brought up at he time the Sauna Boy was pushing the Portland loos, and it was determined that the city couldn't patent them, so a patent was applied for in Randy's name.

I know hat patents and copyrights fall under two separate federal statutory schemes, so maybe copy rights are different.

May also be an issue under trademark law, in both the federal trademark registration law and the separate Oregon trademark laws.

Well Jack, you come to the best conclusion for an Action Agenda: First thing, we kill all the lawyers. Showing which there is no greater love ... realizing as a card-carrying Bar-certified 'lawyer' that that conclusion volunteers sacrificing your own as a target.

But you went the long way around to the point. "As you understand it [copyright & trademark intellectual property]" (i.e., your 'understanding') was written out of law. A different 'understanding' was written into law a few years ago and enacted in replacement. Because of nine-eleven 'everything' changed. Ever after, your understanding of 'it' is both unactionable and wrong, (no matter what your definition of 'it' is). In simplest outline the only 'it' remaining rightly actionable is collections of billable hours invoiced against public munificence.

I share a joy of seeing local-yokel 'news' media follow your lead in this story, Jack. Your scoop. They stoop and scrape. Notice, too, they fall short of reporting Why? -- the lawyers dictate no prosecution of nine-eleven -- and elide reporting justly corrective action How? -- by cutting lawyers down to no standing.
The politics of possible is reduced now to rest on the chance that lawyers see the hours of effort which could reverse the ruling that nine-eleven was an "Act of War" and therefor skyscraper insurance collectible, (reversed then to be left a 'criminal act' and wrong-paid insurance defraudment recoverable ... from prevailing beneficiaries), are billable.
In a way, the 'news' media benefited, are beneficiaries, by mutely neglecting Why? and How? reporting in order instead to steadily profit by selling ditto-copies of News Script Talking Points intellectual property copyrighted by story writers without paid attribution or compensation. Of course! 'news' media cuts reporting of 'it' self being complicit; (harboring, aiding and abetting criminal enterprise). Until now: This is the internet - safe harbor for none. There's no law in it, no lawyers behind it; all is in-evidence.
Judgment For the People.

Wasn't the sign purchased with public funds, yet the City That Isn't A City wants to behave like it's their private intellectual property?

I swear, you just couldn't make this stuff up. No wonder Portland invests so heavily in its own public image. It's called CYA.

I recall when I worked for the Postal Service we used to charge if, for example, a movie production wanted to use collection boxes with the USPS logo or distinctive color scheme in a scene, or uniformed delivery personnel wore official garb. When a band that called itself the Postal Service (because band members lived hundreds of miles apart and traded tracks through the mail) became unexpectedly popular we cut a deal that they would play at a management conference in lieu of charging a royality. I am not at all clear on what type of registration or prerequisites are required to preserve rights, but clearly, merely being in the public domaian, does not make intellectual property open game for commercial use.

It wasn't too long ago that a man was murdered (and covered up to look like a suicide) by the government. He thought access to university research documents should be free to everyone since it had already been paid for by tax money.

Sounds like a similar situation here. Pay up, or commit "suicide."

I can't help but think there's something else at work here. I must confess to having never watched Portlandia, but it makes me wonder if the sign is ever shown on the series, and if it is whether someone down at City Hall had the bright idea that they could shake them down on that basis. Almost sounds Randy Leonardish. But he's gone, right?

Start here:


Then go here:


Then go here:


and scroll to the section with the heading, "Chances are you can publish it"

The City is overreaching on a sign it has chosen to openly display in public venue (the outdoors). The "City that Works" can't fix potholes, but it can attempt to harass photographers and, on occasion, use lethal ammo when less-than-lethal was ordred by incident command. Just saying.

Tensky -

Reality never intrudes in your universe does it?

NoMo -

Reality of what year?

on second thought ...

I have -- NAKED SEX! -- a message for 'news' media since we know
now they're paying attention here:

Hey youse guys, in all the small stuff you sweated to stretch and blusterfluff and fill your News Slot today, with something, half-told things, anything exCEPT true news, you over-dramatically covered up (by crowding out) today's headlines o' the web

showing a list of some news stories in reality of Common Dreams .ORG:

Informed news ...
Gitmo As Systemic Failure - Hollow symbol Obama
Fox Sinking, Sun Rising - Ratings -40% FOX, +11% MSNBC
Americans Working More, Earning Disappointing Returns

Student Loan Delinquencies Skyrocket Signaling 'Latest Red Flag'
Experts: Increased Diplomacy, Not Military, Needed for Mali
Brennan's Torture Worries Ended with Who Might Get Blamed

Big Oil Acquittals by Dutch Court Deliver Blow to Nigerians
Parents, Teachers Slam Dept of Education Over Mass School Closures
'Outbreak of Rage' and Egypt on the Brink

Update: Syria Confirms Israeli Strike
'Development' at Any Cost: US Coasts Left 'Extremely Vulnerable' to Climate Change
Pipeline Corporation Aims to Crush Protest with Crippling Suits

... and educated opinion
Andrea Germanos, staff writer Common Dreams: Dirty Energy, Warming World: A Catastrophe for US Wildlife
Justin Elliot: Obama’s Flip-Flops on Money in Politics: A Brief History
Lisa Hallgarten: Forced Contraception of Jewish Ethopian Women Is Tip of Global Iceberg

Wenonah Hauter: Don’t Put a Fork in It: On the Perils of Genetically Engineered Salmon
George Bisharat: Why Palestine Should Take Israel to Court in The Hague
Norman Solomon: Verbal Tics and Political Routines

Mychal Denzel Smith: Let's End All Gun Deaths, Not Just Mass Killings
Robert Pollin: Declining Union Membership and Attacks on Workers: Pages from the Neoliberal Playbook
Ted Rall: As Hurricane Victims Freeze, Billionaire Mayor Gives Away $1 Billion to Wealthy Med School

Jeff Biggers: Immigration Reform Must Begin With Moratorium on Deportations and Recognition of Shattered Families
Peter Hart: Iranian Meddling in Yemen, Says Unnamed Official From Meddling Country
Paul Krugman: Incestuous Amplification, Economics Edition

Glenn Greenwald: Obama's Non-Closing of Gitmo

... and youse guys missed (or buried) EVERY single Item in reality.

All of that is only part of one day of your bad performance, of 'reporters' watching weblogs to find what's going on important in Portland. Worse yet, youse useless guys charged admission of a dollar a month from every cable TV subscriber whether or NOT any of them watches your air-blow no-news show, and rigged cable-TV collection$$$ was BEFORE you suckered, I mean, charged local businesses for 'advertising' transactions ... which in reality looks like a 'protection racket' extortion. -- Nice little Mom & Pop Business ya got here; it'd be a real shame if TV put on derogatory adverse news of the place ... which you could prevent happening ....

No Mo - Real-ize what? Reality is trademarked?

It goes on in Media Matters coast-to-coast hourly:

Virginia News Coverage Ignores Reality As GOP Pushes For Tighter Voter ID, by BRIAN POWELL, Jan 30, 2013

Jack, Love the new photo. Good on ya.

Clicky Web Analytics