Wednesday, January 27, 2010

No more photos of the constitution

This story reminds me of the following snippet of dialog from Spinal Tap between mockumentary-maker Marty DiBergi and Nigel Tufnel regarding one of Nigel's guitars:

Nigel Tufnel: Look... still has the old tag on, never even played it.
Marty DiBergi: [points his finger] You've never played...?
Nigel Tufnel:  Don't touch it!
Marty DiBergi:  We'll I wasn't going to touch it, I was just pointing at it.
Nigel Tufnel:  Well... don't point! It can't be played.
Marty DiBergi:  Don't point, okay. Can I look at it?
Nigel Tufnel:  No. no. That's it, you've seen enough of that one.

The National Archives and Records Administration has successfully lobbied for a federal reg that prohibits tourists from taking photographs of several historical legal documents including the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights (researchers and professional photographers can still snap away under the new law).  The purpose of the rule is to prevent damage to the documents due to flash photography.  Surprisingly, according to the Law Librarian Blog, the proposed reg only brought three comments, all of them objecting to the rule.  

The real question is enforcement:

Visitors with photographic devices will be allowed to enter the building with their cameras, cell phones, and other photographic equipment. However, they will be met by appropriate signage and security personnel throughout the NAE to explain the ``no photography'' rule. In the event that a visitor makes the mistake of displaying or attempting to use a photographic device, they would first be warned that such behavior is not allowed. If, after they have received a warning, they continue to ignore the ``no photography'' rule they will be politely escorted from the building. 

The new reg appears at 36 CFR 1280.46(c).

Big hat tip to the Law Librarian Blog.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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