Park wardens have caught a lot of flak from photographers over what does and doesn’t require a permit to shoot. The type of “pro” camera being used, the amount of people in your group, or even the sight of a tripod can lead to unfriendly encounters with security.

Now national parks across the United States are cracking down on amateur filmmakers and photographers with a sizable social media following by enforcing 1964’s Wilderness Act which prevents the commercial use of federal lands. Outside Magazine helps explain why the line between what’s deemed commercial photography and what’s not has blurred because of social media.

In short, Instagram and YouTube has spawned a steady growth of internet famous personalities who are able to leverage their own pictures and videos for monetary gain. Even if you simply own a Facebook page, uploading an image to the site falls under publishing, which constitutes commercial photography.

At best, federal parks risk becoming a diluted commercial byproduct of influential Instagrammers; at worst, they suffer severe damage from people doing crazy stunts while in pursuit of a like — the Japanese farmer who cut down the ‘Philosophy Tree’ to save his trampled crops can attest to that.

As it currently stands, there are no real means of preventing others from profiting at the park via social media. However, Yosemite public affairs officer Scott Gediman comments “If people are posting photos or descriptions of what they’re doing, then we will go after them and prosecute them.”

“We know these things occur, but we’re not combing through social media looking for them.”

Perhaps one day we’ll see national parks such as Yellowstone go from being a No Drone Zone to something akin to a No Phone Zone in order to enforce arbitrary rules over what is and isn’t considered commercial photography, or maybe the park’s rather outdated legislation will be updated to better reflect these modern times.

Header composite image by Bokeh

[Article provided for Bokeh]

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