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Bill amended to gag coverage of animal cruelty - California Newspaper Publishers Association : Legislative And Legal

Bill amended to gag coverage of animal cruelty

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Posted: Monday, April 1, 2013 4:22 pm | Updated: 4:24 pm, Mon Apr 1, 2013.

A Central Valley assemblyman recently amended one of his bills at the urging of the California Cattleman's Association to try to control how incidents of animal cruelty are covered and investigated.

Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) amended AB 343 to require any person who willfully or knowingly photographs, records, or videotapes animal cruelty (as defined under existing law) to provide a copy of the photograph, recording, or videotape to local law enforcement within 48 hours of taking the photograph, recording, or videotape.

The bill also would encourage the person to provide a copy of the photograph, recording, or videotape to the owner of the animal or poultry, or a representative of the owner.

A violation of the requirement to provide a copy to local law enforcement would subject a photographer or videographer who captures or records the images to misdemeanor liability.

CNPA opposes AB 343 because it violates the protections journalists have under California's Shield Law by requiring a journalist who captures an image recording to turn it over to law enforcement within 48 hours.

The bill is aimed at chilling animal activist groups from conducting investigations of animal cruelty like that which occurred in Chino where a videotape showed a forklift operator attempting to right a cow who was diseased and had difficulty remaining upright.

Here is a link to an editorial published in the Los Angeles Times opposing the measure.

The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Agriculture Committee on April 17.