Arkansas’ SB-79: A Terrifying Bill Against Street Photography

by . March 30th, 2015

This is bad news for street photographers not just in Arkansas but to everyone else as well. This is because the Arkansas Senate has passed a bill that would make street photography illegal. The said bill SB-79 also known as the Personal Rights Protection Act aimed to protect privacy and the rights of the citizens living in Arkansas.

The bill’s effect and scope is easily summarized in its full name which is “To Enact the Personal Rights Protection Act: and to Protect the Property Rights of an Individual to the Use of the Individual’s Name, Voice, Signature, and Likeness”. This effectively makes it illegal to be photographed and filmed on public grounds without any written consent. This bill would require photographers and videographers to ask for written consent or a model release from everyone seen in the photo or video every single time. But that is just the tip of an crazy iceberg because the bill also cites that even photos not taken in Arkansas as long as someone from Arkansas recognizes themselves in the photo could still file a lawsuit. Imagine all the people in this image who will recognize themselves and later on sue the photographer who took this if the bill takes effect.


In the words of America Society of Media Photographers (ASMP): “This bill expands the individual’s Right of Publicity to an unprecedented extreme.” The ASMP has joined the sentiments of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPPA) and Digital Media Licensing Association (DLMA) as well as other organizations in opposing SB-79 and asking the Arkansas’ governor to veto the bill.

In ASMP’s letter they mention frightening implications to photographers, they wrote:

The implications of this bill are staggering. For example, an image showing recognizable people posted to the Internet for a use that would not require written consent anywhere else in the world could leave you open to a lawsuit just because someone in Arkansas could view it online.

SB-79 places an unprecedented burden on all photographers whose work could be viewed within the state of Arkansas to either get explicit consent from every individual whose likeness appears in all of their photographs or risk defending themselves in a lawsuit where they will have to shoulder the burden of proving the use of their photographs qualifies as an exempted use.

ASMP hopes that the bill will be vetoed by the governor this coming March 31st or it will stand. If you want join the cause ASMP has some instructions in their post of what you can do in order to oppose it. You can also read the entire bill here.