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NH Supreme Court To Rule On Bigfoot Video Shoot In Public Park 166

Posted by timothy
from the and-further-your-honor-arrrgghhhhhghghg dept.
alphadogg writes with this excerpt from the Boston Globe: "On a whim two years ago, performance artist Jonathan Doyle paraded around the bustling peak of New Hampshire's Mount Monadnock in a $40 Bigfoot costume from iParty. He thought his deadpan video interviews with hikers describing their Bigfoot sightings would be worth a few chuckles on YouTube, and might boost the profile of his other artwork. But the staff at Monadnock State Park found the Yeti act abominable. When Doyle returned with friends to shoot a sequel, the park manger quashed the production and ordered Doyle off the mountain, insisting he needed a state permit to film a movie in the park. Bigfoot stepped up with a lawsuit, alleging that the park's permit regulations are unconstitutional. The New Hampshire Supreme Court next month will hear Doyle's complaint. Though many elements of the dispute border on the absurd, the case raises some serious free speech issues."
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NH Supreme Court To Rule On Bigfoot Video Shoot In Public Park

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  • by Great Big Bird (1751616) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @05:56PM (#37812342)
    There are two purposes I can see for a permit system: 1. It provides a framework to limit activities in the park, and 2. it can provide a source of funding for the park. I think in the case of the former, there are some activities one does not want done: such as building a structure. Other activities such as littering does not require the use of a permit, as normal laws quash that. In the case of the latter, it is entirely possible to just have an entrance fee for the park – if that is legal. Ultimately, I don't see a need for either need, as unsuitable excess will either happen rarely or can be punished/prevented through normal laws. Based on the text of the story, it seems to me that the park staff have no reason other than they don't like it. Which is not a valid reason in this context.
    • They already charge $4 a person.
      • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @06:24PM (#37812524)

        I think this is a case of the "Big boy rules" being applied to the little guy. You can't shoot a Hollywood movie in a national park without the proper permits, that's something that no-one wants to argue. However, the park isn't going to stop a family busting out a video camera and recording their holiday hike.

        I think what's going on here is a few friends are having fun and doing something that falls into the latter category, but the park is (for no reason that I can fathom) against the idea of some pranksters having a good chuckle with the park patrons - so they apply the only rules that they can find to stop this happening, the rules meant for Hollywood.

        If you ask me, this smells like a case of the park being douchebags, but I can't really see too much that anyone can do. You certainly don't want the next blockbuster film crew coming in and trashing a park just because the courts ruled that Jonathan and his friends could have a laugh.

        If you ask me, Jonathan should find another park that isn't so full of themselves to record his sequel. "The Yeti Migration" comes to mind as a title...

        • by Dunbal (464142) *

          However, the park isn't going to stop a family busting out a video camera and recording their holiday hike.

          Why not? They already arrest people for dancing around national monuments in Washington DC.

          • Fun fact is that, those arrested were charged with "Demonstrating without a permit".

            I still can't believe there such thing as a protesting permit and that so many people are fine with it.

            • We don't have a permit to protest it.

            • I still can't believe there such thing as a protesting permit and that so many people are fine with it.

              Speech permits were the inevitable consequence of weapons permits. Next up may be religion permits. The TSA is already implementing permits to avoid unreasonable searches. Due process permits skipped right from crazy to unavailable (to some when chosen to be boogeymen).

        • by Pharmboy (216950) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @08:07PM (#37813034) Journal

          Big movies are for profit, a commercial venture.

          You can shoot home movies of your children in the park, which isn't for profit, and is perfectly fine and legal.

          He is trying to do something closer to home movies, as he is posting on youtube, not requiring large equipment and space, and not requiring any part of the park to be off limits. If they want to require that he first notify them (so they know to not hunt for any reporting bigfeet) and require a small fee for dealing with it, ($10 range, since entry is only $4), then I wouldn't have an issue, as the fee would be in line with the cost to them, virtually nothing. Anything more is infringing on free speech, since it wouldn't be in proportion to the "disruption" itself.

          • by SomePgmr (2021234) on Monday October 24, 2011 @01:12AM (#37814336) Homepage
            Absolutely agree.

            Though situations like this always amaze me. It took an odd combination of events, a goofball in a bigfoot outfit making youtube videos and some seemingly overprotective rangers to make this an issue.

            So now we have court hearings and think, "Ok, we need rules that protect people who want to shoot videos, without letting things get out of control." And those rules will have to be uncomfortably specific, defining amounts of support gear or facilities that determine if it's a "big" or "small" production, commercial or non-commercial, areas that are always off limits, sectioning off spots for filming or not, the appropriate fee schedule, caring for the grounds afterwards, park staff on hand, etc.

            But it gets really funny when, a year from now, folks are screaming when they discover there are 10 pages of regulations, fees, lengthy application processes and general aggravation over trying to just shoot a stupid youtube video in the park. Local news talks about the absurdity of the whole thing, the parks work to "clarify the process", and all along, we all laugh about the ridiculous inefficiencies of bureaucracies... even at the park. ;)

            On to the next one!
            • by Ihmhi (1206036)

              Is... is this the start of the Bigfoot Defense? Right up there with the Chewbacca Defense...

          • by sunking2 (521698)
            Except for the 'boost the profile of his other artwork' part. There is little doubt that he is doing this to partly help his career, whatever that may be. This is simply another example of a society that is unwilling to apply a little common sense when enforcing rules.
        • by FauxReal (653820) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @09:28PM (#37813426) Homepage
          Try busting out a video camera anywhere in LA these days. A kid filming himself skateboarding will get chased off without a permit.
        • by kilodelta (843627)
          The problem is, if Jonathan and his friends are successful that is precisely what will happen. The state legislators are going to do doublt time to craft a law that preserves the rights of the citizen, while limiting the access of another citizen namely the corporations.

          Yes I know already, corporation as citizens is a legal fiction and that little problem needs to be solved post haste.
          • Actually, there is a way to limit the "blockbuster" movies without limiting guys like this. You can make the rules so that someone can film to their hearts content as long as neither their equipment nor production crews obstruct others in those others' use of the park. If you are filming something where you need to limit other people entering into the area where you are filming, then you need a permit. If the Court is wise they will craft a ruling which says this, while throwing out the existing rules/laws
        • by russotto (537200)

          I think this is a case of the "Big boy rules" being applied to the little guy

          The point of the "big boy rules" is to ensure the little guy doesn't get a chance.

        • by Doc Ruby (173196)

          Why can't a Hollywood movie be shot in a national park without permits? As long as the shoot isn't damaging the park, or interfering with other people's use of it (any more than those people's use interferes with anyone else's), what is the good reason to interfere with an American doing whatever they want in their park? Nobody's saying that anyone has the right to trash a public park, regardless of whether they're recording something or not.

          There is a valid basis for the public perhaps charging a royalty f

          • by 1u3hr (530656)

            Why can't a Hollywood movie be shot in a national park without permits? As long as the shoot isn't damaging the park, or interfering with other people's use of it

            Have you ever seen a Hollywood movie shooting on location? Hundreds of crew, trucks, generators, lights, etc, etc.

            • by Plunky (929104) on Monday October 24, 2011 @04:20AM (#37814918)

              Have you ever seen a Hollywood movie shooting on location? Hundreds of crew, trucks, generators, lights, etc, etc.

              Right, so its a National Park and that stuff isn't allowed, so they need a permit to get trucks, trailers and generators on site, and an exclusion zone set up because you can't have members of the public wandering across your set.. The permit then is not for the filming, but for the inconvenience they are creating to other park users, and to the costs they are incurring to the park wardens who need to coordinate such activity.

        • You certainly don't want the next blockbuster film crew coming in and trashing a park just because the courts ruled that Jonathan and his friends could have a laugh.

          I absolutely think everyone WOULD want the next blockbuster film crew coming in and... throwing money around like they usually do. Big movie productions have big money, and they spread it around wherever they work. Best thing that could possibly ever happen to that park, or any park, is the next big blockbuster gets shot there. They'll pay several times the going rate for the cleanup. Maybe they'll even build a nice, luxurious lodge for the film, and then just give it to the park when their done. That's how

    • by mysidia (191772) * on Sunday October 23, 2011 @06:20PM (#37812500)

      How about permits for potentially disruptive activities in order to maintain public order? Do you have a right to dress up as a large creature or do other deceptive things to disturb other people's enjoyment of the park?

      • by hedwards (940851) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @06:23PM (#37812512)

        Yes, how one dresses is by and large covered by freedom of expression. There are a few limits in that you do generally need to be clothed, but it's been settled case law for years that you can legitimately wear an American flag as a shirt, I don't see why dressing like a Sasquatch would be any different.

      • by migla (1099771)

        How about permits for potentially disruptive activities in order to maintain public order? Do you have a right to dress up as a large creature or do other deceptive things to disturb other people's enjoyment of the park?

        Where to draw the line... This is not as blatantly disruptive and dangerous as yelling "fire" in a crowded theatre, but maybe something akin to yelling "water" in a more sparsely populated theatre?

        I'm leaning towards that it should be allowed to dress up as bigfoot. That should be the issue. Getting at it from the filming with the camcorder perspective is not nice, imo.

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)

        No, you don't have a right to disturb other people's enjoyment of the park. But dressing up in a bigfoot costume while your friends shoot pictures of you acting out scenes with another friend doesn't disturb other people's enjoyment. Any more than a similar number of people building a fire and playing ukeleles might disturb those bigfoot actors' enjoyment.

        These people each have the same right to enjoying the park. It's big enough for them all to share. That one group is recording it, for home movies, nonpro

    • by h00manist (800926)

      Removing all possible limits = adding all possible freedoms.

      But the constitution says we *already* have all these rights. IANAL. But I'm pretty sure constitutional rights take priority over private and public property policies - especially public. That includes the needs of maintenance for the parks and profit for anyone else. I don't see how "license to shoot a movie" nowadays is different from "license to use any electronic device capable of filming - phones, camcorders, hidden mcro-cameras. Or "licen

    • by cyn1c77 (928549)

      There are two purposes I can see for a permit system:

      1. It provides a framework to limit activities in the park, and
      2. it can provide a source of funding for the park.

      I think in the case of the former, there are some activities one does not want done: such as building a structure. Other activities such as littering does not require the use of a permit, as normal laws quash that.

      In the case of the latter, it is entirely possible to just have an entrance fee for the park – if that is legal.

      Ultimately, I don't see a need for either need, as unsuitable excess will either happen rarely or can be punished/prevented through normal laws.

      Based on the text of the story, it seems to me that the park staff have no reason other than they don't like it. Which is not a valid reason in this context.

      Maybe the park doesn't want a big monster running around scaring the public?

      What if I dress up as a grizzly bear and try to scare the shit out of you during a nice family picnic? What if you shoot me to defend yourself and I sue the park service?

      People go to state and federal parks to get away from civilization and to enjoy nature, not to get harassed by wanna-be actors.

      • by MorePower (581188)
        If that's true though, then there should be no talk about permits. If "Bigfoot's" activities actually constitute harassment or if there is a legitimate public safety issue, then the Park should be flat out saying "no you can't do that".

        By making it a "you don't have a permit" issue, it really smacks of the park rangers don't like it, but it hasn't actually crossed the line.

        I mean, are they saying you CAN harass/endanger people as long as you do get a permit?
        • are they saying you CAN harass/endanger people as long as you do get a permit?

          If that's the case, I'm definitely getting a permit.
        • by cyn1c77 (928549)

          If that's true though, then there should be no talk about permits. If "Bigfoot's" activities actually constitute harassment or if there is a legitimate public safety issue, then the Park should be flat out saying "no you can't do that".

          By making it a "you don't have a permit" issue, it really smacks of the park rangers don't like it, but it hasn't actually crossed the line.

          I mean, are they saying you CAN harass/endanger people as long as you do get a permit?

          Pretty much. It's called getting a permit for a public demonstration.

    • by Aighearach (97333)

      there are some activities one does not want done: such as building a structure.

      Right, so with the permit system you have the legislative branch setting up a framework by which the executive branch can exert day-to-day control over what activities are permitted in the park.

      If somebody doesn't like the way the executive is deciding that, unless it involves some sort of protected status then any recourse is going to have to go back through the legislature. The court isn't going to step in and decide this over both other branches.

      The fact is, they didn't tell him not to dress up in an ape

    • Permits are necessary for many things. The purpose of the park system is to preserve land for the enjoyment of people, however different people would like to enjoy it in ways that are not compatible. That doesn't mean that all these activities can't be supported, it just means that they can't all happen at the same place and/or time. People who want to enjoy peace and quiet in the forest will be disturbed by people riding ATVs, or a huge film crew. People who want to swim in a lake and those who want to fis

  • This is huge. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MarkvW (1037596) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @05:58PM (#37812364)

    If the government wins on this one, they'll get support for making the same arguments about filming on the public highways or public sidewalks.

     

    • Re:This is huge. (Score:5, Informative)

      by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @06:22PM (#37812508) Journal
      It's not really the same, that kind of thing is already illegal.....if you get on a freeway with your camera gear and block traffic for three hours while you film something, then yeah, the police are going to come bother you (you could probably do it anyway if you have a permit, much like this guy could if he had a permit).

      The purpose of the regulation is mentioned in the article:

      The permit regulations are for “mitigating the impacts of commercial events’’ in state parks, and “protecting visitors from unwelcome or unwarranted interference, annoyance, or danger,’’ among other considerations, the state wrote in its brief.

      Do you really want a Geico lizard harassing you while you are hiking around Yellowstone? Probably not. What this guy was doing could be interpreted as shameless self-promotion and harassing people.

      I don't know if he was harassing people or not. I wasn't there, and the article doesn't give much info. Maybe he was, maybe the permit requirements are reasonable, the court needs to decide that.

      The point is, even if the court lets this stand, it's can't be used as a precedent to limit us any more than we already are (and really, I don't want people blocking traffic on the freeway for their pet youtube videos).

      • if you get on a freeway with your camera gear and block traffic for three hours while you film something, then yeah, the police are going to come bother you/quote.

        Yes, but they'll do so because you're blocking traffic, not because you use a camera while doing so.

        • Re:This is huge. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @07:46PM (#37812960) Journal
          Right, so the question is, when is commercial activity enough to require a permit? I've never been to New Hampshire, but I assume there were plenty of other people who had cameras who were fine. It was the extra stuff this guy was doing that caused the confrontation with the park rangers.
          • Isn't New Hampshire the state where all the libertarians wanted to move, so as to create something akin to their utopia? Did enough move there to influence the state legislature? No?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dbcad7 (771464)
      Actually.. this is a state park.. requires a fee to enter.. Given that, I am inclined to agree those that have paid to enter should expect some policing.. In my mind, requiring a fee changes it's status from public access to private paid access.. The issue here is not about filming in a public place.. in fact I am certain they could have filmed all day long.. even in a Bigfoot suit.. the issue was whether the filming was harassing other guests.. Let's say they did the same thing even without filming it.. o
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)

        Why does a fee charged by the government, representing the public that owns the park, change the status from public access to private access?

        The issue is clearly the filming. The park police aren't charging these people with assault or any other act except filming without a permit. By definition the issue is the filming.

    • by adenied (120700)

      Except that most jurisdictions do require a permit to film for commercial purposes.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        That's typically because of the disruption. Things like closing down roads and the ensuring that there's adequate security, not to mention just the matter of ensuring that the film crew is in contact with the relevant department. Most cities want to have film crews come to their city and permitting is a way of reducing the possibility of mishaps or miscommunications happening.

        Just shooting next to a major street or in a park typically necessitates that the public not use the right of way for a period in tim

  • by TheABomb (180342) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @06:12PM (#37812450)

    "I am maintaining the integrity of being real" (TFA quote) is exactly what Bigfoot needs to be telling more reporters.

  • by RazorSharp (1418697) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @06:17PM (#37812478)

    I understand needing a permit if lots of heavy equipment needs to be dragged in and set up - like when they lay track to follow something with the camera - but to prohibit a person from using just video cameras is absurd. Shooting a movie shouldn't be an issue unless it could have an effect on the ecosystem or would require some form of construction.

    A lot of times a policy is set up with good intentions but isn't specific enough so it's used as an excuse for something else. This is a good example of that. So is the U.S. Constitution.

    • by jd (1658)

      Shooting a movie shouldn't be an issue unless it could have an effect on the ecosystem or would require some form of construction.

      I certainly agree there, though there are times when that would apply to a regular person using a video camera - there are plenty of extremely fragile ecosystems. However, in the case where an ecosystem is that fragile, conservation laws aught to be in effect and permits shouldn't exist. If there are permits, then the ecosystem is declared as not being fragile since the authoriti

    • by Tacvek (948259)

      You forgot one case, which is when the production prevents or places significant limits on the use of the area by other people. If doing filming that will effectively block a road (even if it is just people standing in the street) then a permit should be required. Similarly if no construction occurred, but the production consisted of a large number of people, making a section of the park too crowed for other people.

      This production has minimal impact on others using the park, so it case also would not apply.

  • Free speech? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ToasterMonkey (467067) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @06:21PM (#37812502) Homepage

    insisting he needed a state permit to film a movie in the park. Bigfoot stepped up with a lawsuit, alleging that the park's permit regulations are unconstitutional. The New Hampshire Supreme Court next month will hear Doyle's complaint. Though many elements of the dispute border on the absurd, the case raises some serious free speech issues."

    What does filming location have to do with free speech?

    • Re:Free speech? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hedwards (940851) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @06:33PM (#37812574)

      Because restricting free speech to one particular block in the middle of Topeka would be way too easy a way of curtailing freedom of expression. And they could do the same thing for freedom of assembly or right to bear arms.

      The right to free speech necessitates the ability to engage in it everywhere one can. Having these zones like at the airport is counter the purpose of having the freedom in the first place.

    • State owned land, restrictions on expression, you do the math. Speech isn't just 'speech'
  • If there is a ban on film making everyone with a cellphone or camera is going to have to leave them behind.
    Pretty much everyone walking around these days is capable of making a movie. Just take out your cell phone and ....

    The law as written needs revising for current technology. His monkey suit video is really no different than everyones "I am here" holiday video that gets posted onto facebook.

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @06:34PM (#37812590)

    They can either film in the park without permission or not, but that has nothing to do with free speech.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      That's not how that has been interpreted in the past. Speech isn't just literal speech, it applies to other creative means of communication. You're free to communicate whatever you want to communicate in the US unless the communication involves a very small number of illegal activities such as fraud or libel, otherwise the state can't interfere. In this case, I can't imagine what compelling interest that state could possibly have that would necessitate them from putting prohibitive strings on permission for

      • by Hentes (2461350)

        This isn't about what he did but that he did it in a place that may not be considered as public. Also, I don't see how filming is a form of communication, as communication requires two parties that communicate with each other, and in this case there is no second party, nor any transfer of data going on. This is not speech.

  • by NaturePhotog (317732) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @06:41PM (#37812626) Homepage
    I don't know about the NH state parks, but the National Park Service spells out pretty clearly [nps.gov] when permits are needed, under the general category "Commercial Filming and Still Photography Permits". Basically if it's a location not normally accessible to the public; you bring in models, sets or props; or the park service would need additional resources to monitor the activity. He's bringing in a costume, and he's doing it to advertise his other artwork, so it would probably require a permit in a national park. But small scale, there are no onerous fees: 1 - 2 people, camera & tripod only $0/day. The system is set up to keep advertisers and corporations from abusing the parks for their own uses. In the article, it sounds pretty similar for the NH state parks, except the fee is $100/day. As a photographer (who spends time in CA state parks and national parks), it doesn't sound to me like a question of free speech because they didn't deny him access, they just told him to follow the existing rules and get a necessary permit.
    • by jroysdon (201893)

      I'm guessing getting a $2M insurance bond wouldn't be terribly expensive either. Not that they are one-in-the-same, but a $2M Professional Liability policy only ran me $312/year for a number of years. He only needs it to be good for a day, so I'm betting it wouldn't be more than a few hundred, if that.

      Save up the money and do it right and follow all the rules, or go home and film it. Just because it is a public park doesn't mean it is a free ride for your own promotional videos. Further, what if every h

      • by hedwards (940851)

        That's a lot of money for most folks, especially when you consider that it's likely that the insurance and permitting is going to cost more than the rest of the things being used for the production.

    • by flimflammer (956759) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @07:30PM (#37812868)

      The $100 fee is misleading. He would also need to take out a $2 million insurance bond which would have cost him several hundred dollars more on top of it. They may not have physically denied him access by telling him to get the permit, but the price tag for entry was prohibitively high when all is said and done and that's the problem. They seemed to apply the permit tied to bigger things to this guy in a costume with a consumer grade camera.

      The way I've read into this seems to imply they just didn't like what he was doing the first time and hid behind the permit business this time as a way to make him go away. I don't think I'd spend $700/800+ just to film some Bigfoot footage for YouTube.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        They may not have physically denied him access by telling him to get the permit, but the price tag for entry was prohibitively high when all is said and done and that's the problem.

        And that's why he'll lose the case. In America you only have rights if you can afford to exercise them. Freedom of the press goes only to those who can afford a press.

    • by Bob9113 (14996)

      A concise explanation of the gray area, with citation of the national park service standard that clearly resulted from significant consideration of how to balance the regulation. An outstanding post. Thanks!

  • Eh... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @07:26PM (#37812846) Journal
    Frankly, this only seems like an "important free speech issue" in one respect: the (quite likely) possibility that the park management are using selective enforcement of (possibly outdated) regulations against people who merely annoy them.

    The notion that certain things that incidentally happen to be speech can be curtailed or limited because they are also hazardous or deeply disruptive has been more or less unproblematic as long as the notion of freedom of speech has been a matter of political possibility. However, such limitations do offer a potentially hazardous temptation for anti-speech selective enforcement(Is running around a dense residential district at 3am and shouting your head off legitimately "disturbance of the peace"? Yeah. Does that mean that it would be OK for police to ignore some disturbers of the peace and arrest those who say unpopular things? Not So Much.)

    If this case turns out to be the park staff using a permitting system written back when cameras were barely man-portable and 'filming' implied a trail of havoc to selectively quash the weirdos while ignoring That Vacationing Camcorder Asshole, whose life only has meaning if they glimpse it continuously through a viewfinder, they need a smacking down.
    If it turns out that the permit requirements are applied uniformly, then it becomes the much less weighty question of whether or not the decreasing size and disruptiveness of cameras makes them due for a rewrite or not...
  • by nicoleb_x (1571029) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @08:18PM (#37813080)
    I have no problem with permits as long as the the Parks have a "Shall Issue" rule so that you get a permit as long as you meet the minimum requirements.
  • by leftie (667677) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @08:58PM (#37813288)

    ACLU has to get discouraged being stuck defending the rights of assholes like Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist screaming hate at gay soldiers' funerals. Fighting for Bigfoot going to be like a fun frolic in the woods for them.

  • I would get annoyed if people regularly used the summit area to goof
    off with video cameras or any other tech for that matter. Even talking on
    a cell phone up there will net you many dirty looks. Mt. Monadnock is
    one of the most frequently scaled mountains in the world, it can get
    crowded up there. Were folks to make putting on little shows like this
    on a regular basis it would get old real fast and spoil the natural beauty
    of the area.

    The licensing proposed wasn't punitive to the point where the average
    person c

  • I thought you had to have a permit to film in public anyway, short of a home video of course.

    While it appears NH doesn't require a permit to film, you do need to apply to film on state property. http://www.nh.gov/film/faq.htm [nh.gov]

    Looks like Bigfoot is in the wrong.

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