The NPPA is an active advocate for the legal rights of visual journalists. Our work includes issues connected to First Amendment access, drone regulations, copyright, access and credentialing, cameras in court, “ag-gag” laws, unlawful assault on visual journalists and cases that affect the ability to record events and issues of public interest. Our work benefits not only individuals but the public at large.
You can support this advocacy by making a tax-deductible donation to NPPA Legal Advocacy and Education through the National Press Photographers Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization charged with advancing photojournalism through education and awarding scholarships and fellowships to deserving individuals.
December, 2020 - In a year that has been exceptionally polarizing for media coverage, our general counsel Mickey Osterreicher and Alicia Calzada, worked unflinchingly in support of members’ rights. When members were detained or arrested during protests, they called Mickey or Alicia for advice, assistance and support.
Here are articles (that are updated as they are published) where our legal Advocacy for the NPPA has been involved.
The NPPA urges accountability for police who violate journalists’ rights and has long been at the forefront of the rights of citizens and journalists to document police performing their official duties in a public place.
Here are examples of how NPPA Advocacy has been involved on the frontlines for our members:
- October 21, 2021 - A three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently ruled against NPPA's challenge of California's AB5 labor law, affirming the district court’s ruling that the law regulates economic activity rather than speech. In response, NPPA, along with the other plaintiff involved in the lawsuit, ASJA, filed a petition for en banc review of that decision on Oct. 20, 2021. If granted, such review would be by the entire Ninth Circuit Court. The petition was filed by lawyers from the Pacific Legal Foundation, who are representing the plaintiffs in this case. Backgroud is here.
- October 13, 2021 – NPPA’s Advocacy team filed an amicus brief on behalf of the NPPA and 11 other media and photography organizations in Price v. Garland, a federal appeals case that we hope will uphold a lower court's ruling benefiting videographers. The lower court in that case overturned the "commercial filming" permits on federal lands (NPS, BLM, Forest Service) which have vexed videographers (journalists and non-journalists) for years. In its ruling, the district court held that the commercial filming permit requirements in 43 C.F.R. Part 5 36 C.F.R. § 5.5, and 54 U.S.C. § 100905 were unconstitutional violations of the First Amendment. While this effort primarily benefits our video members, all photographers will benefit from strong case law upholding the right to take pictures and record on public lands without permission from the government (or a fee).
- October 6, 2021 - Seizure of student journalist’s camera; NPPA Advocacy responds - The National Press Photographer's general counsel, Mickey Osterreicher, was contacted by a student about the seizure of a camera from a McKinney High School (McKinney, Texas) student journalist while covering a school protest.
- September 2021 - The NPPA along with several other groups joined an RCFP amicus brief in Ness v. City of Bloomington, a case before the 8th Circuit. This case was brought by Ness, a Bloomington, Minnesota, resident who began documenting a public controversy surrounding the Dar al-Farooq mosque and Success Academy school, which are located in her neighborhood, by videotaping and photographing various activities related to the mosque and school, including their use of a city park as a playground.
- Aug. 5, 2021 - In response to the beatings, arrests, and harassment they experienced while covering last summer's racial justice protests, the NPPA in partnership with Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, filed a federal lawsuit seeking to hold the New York City Police Department accountable for its violation of their First Amendment rights on nehalf of five news photographers.
- June 2021: International Association of Chiefs of Police magazine, Police-Press Relations by Mickey Osterreicher
- March 2020: We asked public officials to clarify that newsgathering is “essential”.
- June 2020 - We partnered with the Press Freedom Defense Fund (PFDF), a program of First Look Media to enhance and support extensive legal advocacy programs for journalists who have been arrested or injured while covering news stories, as exemplified during the nationwide protests over George Floyd’s death while in police custody.
- July 2020 - We joined the Press Freedom Defense Fund (PFDF) in opposing the ruling by a Seattle judge ordering local news media to provide their unpublished photographs and video footage to police from the protests on May 30, 2020.
- June 2020 - Mickey participated in a panel discussion about Police & The Press in June.
- July and August 2020 - In conjunction with RCFP and CPJ, we participated in a series of free training sessions for journalists covering the 2020 elections.
- July 2020 - We sent a letter to Sacramento's Police chief and mayor expressing disappointment in the new media policy issued in May, 2020, by the Sacramento Police Department.
- August 2020 - We joined media organizations (CPJ, NYNPA, NYPPA, PFDF, RTDNA, SPJ) in a lawsuit to uphold NYPD-issued press credentials and Mickey testified remotely at a public hearing.
- September 2020 - Mickey and Alicia submitted comments to the U.S. Copyright Office asking it to consider the First Amendment impact on photographers who experience copyright infringement by state entities.
- November 2020 - We sent a letter to the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices requesting that "journalists who have direct contact with the public on a regular basis, and particularly visual journalists, be expressly included in the phase of the COVID - 19 vaccine that includes the essential and critical infrastructure workforce.
In 2019, NPPA was a plaintiff in multiple lawsuits challenging unconstitutional laws and policies that affect photographers’ First Amendment rights. Our Advocacy team helped prevent an increase in fees for copyright registration.
After several years of advocacy and grassroots efforts by a coalition that includes NPPA, the CASE Act – bipartisan legislation that would create a copyright small claims tribunal within the U.S. Copyright Office – passed the House and made significant progress in the Senate.
“Infringement takes a direct economic toll on these small business owners, and takes time, energy and money away from their work as journalists,” Osterreicher said. In November 2019, we explained how a federal court ruling that will protect photojournalists from suspicionless searches of their cell phones, cameras and laptops mirrors a lawsuit filed a decade ago by NPPA. And we are helping photographers navigate the legalities of drone journalism while fighting unconstitutional restrictions of newsgathering on the ground and in the air.
Other efforts include NPPA joining in amicus (friend of the court) briefs in support of many of the issues facing journalists. Multiple stories about our Advocacy work and NPPA news can be found here.
The National Press Photographers Association’s Advocacy Committee is led by NPPA Advocacy Chair and Attorney Alicia Wagner Calzada and NPPA General Counsel Mickey H. Osterreicher. The committee works to further the NPPA’s mission of advancing visual journalism by addressing local and federal policy issues that affect our members’ ability to provide the public with news images. The official spokesperson of the NPPA is always the sitting president and all advocacy committee activity is done with the knowledge and approval of the president who is automatically a member of the committee.
Whether working with government agencies and leaders or participating in “friend of the court” briefs on cases affecting news photographers, the Advocacy Committee diligently monitors issues affecting visual journalists and works to ensure that their voices are heard.
On a case-by-case basis the Advocacy Committee also addresses individual issues affecting the right of the public and the press to document and record images in order to protect those constitutional freedoms.
NPPA Advocacy Committee Contacts
Alicia Wagner Calzada, Esq: [email protected]
Mickey H. Osterreicher, Esq.: [email protected]
For more NPPA Advocacy Committee view our Legal Resources.