Alicia Calzada in the National Press Photographers Association: Photographers Testify Against Texas Proposed Limits On Unmanned Aerial Photos


In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) members testified in front of a Texas House Committee against a bill that would make photography with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) subject to criminal and civil penalties.

A photographer would be guilty of a Class C Misdemeanor and subject to a $1,000 civil penalty for each image in violation of the statute is HB 912 becomes law.

 After waiting more than 16 hours for the opportunity to testify, Guy Reynolds, a photography editor for The Dallas Morning News, testified about an important news story from the Dallas area that used UAV technology. In late 2011, a citizen was shooting aerial photographs using a remote-controlled airplane at a low altitude. When he looked at his pictures he noticed blood running in the Trinity River. Local and state authorities confirmed that untreated pig blood was being released into the river from a plant. The discovery led to an 18-count indictment of the company and two of its executives...

NPPA attorney Alicia Calzada expressed to the committee NPPA’s First Amendment concerns.

“HB 912 is content based,” she said. “Imposing criminal and civil liability based on content is subject to the most exacting scrutiny, and requires the state to show that the regulation is needed to serve a compelling state interest, and that it is narrowly tailored to serve that interest.” Calzada pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that if a newspaper obtains information on a matter of public concern lawfully, they cannot be punished.

Excerpted from the National Press Photographers Association, April 3, 2013. To view full article, click here.

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