I am old enough to know you can’t trust the government. The IRS can’t balance their own books, the congress is compromised and things like dark money and lobby groups, in great part, control the narrative. Partisan politics keep us divided into hostile camps and the bulk of the population is distracted making the con all that much easier. And now we have this. If you haven’t been following this story, the overturning of Price v Barr then you need to start paying attention because if you are a filmmaker or have monetization to your work then this applies to you.
The first thing I want you to do is listen to the soundtrack. Roosevelt from the Cumberland Gap speech in 1940 warning of a future government overreach that will begin to take the parks from the people of the United States. This, my friends, is precisely what is happening now. Personally, I don’t think the three agencies involved in this “scheme” even have a long term idea in place. I think they are allowing their lawyers to make the rules and the agencies are just following along trying to make sense of it all. And make no mistake, this is about REVENUE. This has nothing to do with abuse of park lands, at least when it comes to individuals experiencing the park and posting to YouTube or TikTok. (Both are called out specifically, but why not Instagram?)
A quick search will lead you to numerous films about the permitting process, or lack thereof because like all things government, there is no national policy. A creator must approach each park individually. There are numerous films covering this process, the expense which in some cases runs into the $300 range, and of course these are nonrefundable fees and must be applied for thirty-days in advance. In addition, depending on the park, even as an individual with one camera and a tripod you might need to pay for a park service “minder” to accompany you on your outing adding to the fees and completely and utterly destroying your park experience.
There is something about the film attached that I’m still curious about. This family has decided to NOT monetize their films but will still continue to film in the park. However, even if I don’t monetize my films, YouTube is still monetizing me so this could also be considered a violation. Still photography, for now, seems to be excluded from this first amendment violation, but my guess is that will also change just as soon as they can find a court to add this in. (This is how the US works people.) If there is money to be made they will try it. But what about still photography combined with sound and made into a film? Don’t forget, this ruling also applies to national forrest as well.
Finally, what if I have monetization but have yet to turn a profit on YouTube? Which in my case is spot on. I just paid thousands of dollars for a new lens which is WAY more than I’ve made on YouTube this year, so will the park service compensate me for the difference before fining me for not having a permit? Somehow I think not. Somehow I don’t they even considered that this might be a reality for millions of YouTube creators. Again, this is how the US government works. They smell money and they act. The reality may or may not be sorted out later. And when I say “government, ” I am referring to local, state and federal. It’s not just the feds that pull this stuff. Did I ever tell you about my “Home Occupation Permit,” experience while living in California? Another scheme with a nonrefundable front end combined with extortion like threatening phone calls and multiple years of harassment.
Those still living with the post-war mentality of “We are the good guys,” will probably just shake their heads and say “Oh, this can’t be real.” Just what the park doctor ordered. Perhaps the most important takeaway here is just how disconnected the park service is from modern culture and society, which might possibly explain when they are disliked by so many people. What the park service should have done is the exact opposite. If the park service wanted future generations to support the parks then they should have turned TOWARD creators by engaging with them to highlight the best work while also offering education about how to best utilize the parks with the least amount of impact. My guess is that upwards of 90% of park visitors are posting content online. The vast majority of that content is being monetized whether the individual knows it or not. The park service has ZERO chance of monitoring this, but yet here we are. Again, they seem disconnected.
Like all important topics you MUST do your own research. Me, I am no longer buying park passes and have stopped making donations to the park service. Pretty simple first step in my mind. And, I have zero plans for visitation in 2023. You infringe on me, I stop supporting you. Living where I do, it is nearly impossible to miss national forrest land but I will only shoot stills and will no longer make motion content. I will turn these stills into films, which is something I prefer to motion content anyway. You can write your congress member but good luck with that. I’ve written to Secretary of the Interior, my representative in congress and never heard back from anyone. Big surprise. My guess is that the vast majority of these people have no idea this is happening and could probably care less. The truth is they could film in a park and would never get fined. Our laws do not apply equally and never have. There is a rumor this case will land in the US Supreme Court but based on how compromised our “highest” court is, well, that may or may not work in the public’s favor.