Foes say animal bill chills free speech

April 17, 2013

Downed CowCalifornia’s agriculture and cattle industries are backing a proposed state law requiring that persons taking photographs, videotapes, and other documentation depicting animal cruelty turn those materials over to authorities within 48 hours.

The bill, AB343, was introduced by Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, and gets its first hearing today in the Assembly Agriculture Committee. It is sponsored by the California Cattlemen’s Association.

Patterson’s plan is opposed by a variety of environmental groups and the California Newspaper Publishers Association.

Ostensibly, the bill is intended by its supporters to ensure corrective and prompt actions are taken to stop the alleged cruelty.

Opponents contend the bill is an attempt to chill free speech and discourage whistleblowers and activists, and amounts to the taking of property without due process.

News gathering organizations, according to a legislative analysis of the proposal, contend that “holding a photographer or videographer criminally liable if he or she captures or records images of animal cruelty, but fails to provide them to local law enforcement, would violate both federal copyright law and the First Amendment. Under copyright law, once an image or recording is lawfully captured, the person who takes the picture or shoots the video has an instantaneous intellectual property interest in the work that is protected.”



  1. mrcyberdoc says:

    The problem is that the cows need to unionize. Their rights will not be protected unless they organize!

    (4) 6 Total Votes - 5 up - 1 down
  2. r0y says:

    I am not an environmentalist, as the term has been hijacked by radicals; however, I think we need to live with the knowledge of kill floors, etc. if we choose to eat meat. I have no issues with kill floors, as horrible as they may seem (to many), because I am an omnivore. I eat meat, I would like to know the process in which the meats that I do not kill and prepare are themselves prepared.

    I know the new environmentalists want to “shock” people into not eating meat – that’s fine; I also understand that the meat industry lobbied this politician to protect their interests. Fine, also. I think it’s terrible legislation, and I would, in this instance, side with the new environmentalists. Let them take their photos, let them film their documentaries.

    Be honest with yourself if you eat meat: know that it is not all lolipops and sunshine in the meat industry. Can you live with it? I can. If not, become a vegan/vegetarian/whatever. Join PETA if you are very concerned with animals. Join the NRA if you appreciate firearms. Why must everything be presented as a division of us? I’m a lifetime NRA member, one of my best friends is a lifetime PETA member, and we get along smashingly – mostly because of the great debates we have.

    (15) 15 Total Votes - 15 up - 0 down
  3. WiserGuy says:

    This is a bill intended to protect the cattle industry’s most gruesome, unhealthy and illegal practices whifh are all too common. Regulators and whistleblowers generally need more than 48 hours to analyze their videos and other findings to determine if the alarming and/or gruesome or cruel practices observed or recorded are indeed illegal and worth pursuing.

    This law also is aimed at preventing regulators and whistleblowers from documenting consistent illegal activity. In other words, if a regulator or whistleblower documents one illegal act and then has to alert people to it within 48 hours, the perpetrators then know that someone is watching them and then curtail the activity and claim that it was simply a “one time occurrence” or an anomaly or a simple mistake by a single employee who is then scapegoated and fired as the company tries to cover its tracks as fast as it can.

    Anyone who dares eat meat should definitely oppose this tricky, disingenuous law aimed at protecting law breakers and perpetuating horrendous, unhealthy and cruel practices that are widespread and frequent.

    (13) 13 Total Votes - 13 up - 0 down
    • r0y says:

      I agree. As a one who eats meat, I want to make sure things are clean, healthy, and not illegal. While I do not expect the “gruesome” part to be assuaged (it is killing, after all), I do not like any proposal that could limit whistle-blowers – especially if there is something to blow the whistle on.

      As such, I also oppose this bill.

      (6) 6 Total Votes - 6 up - 0 down
  4. r0y says:

    More Police State laws… now if only there were a few more sensationalized traumatic events to kick us over the edge.

    Ver are your paperz, zen?

    (5) 11 Total Votes - 8 up - 3 down

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