The National Trust is, at least in part, relying on byelaws for authority to regulate photography on its property. As the private landowner it can impose whatever terms it likes, but does not want to appear arbitrary. It warns that breaking any of its byelaws is a criminal, not civil offence.
Successive National Trust Acts have enabled the NT to make up its own byelaws, in the same way that local authorities do. NT byelaws are framed to regulate nuisance to visitors and damage to NT properties, and safeguard its aims. They deal with misbehaviour like littering, lighting fires, swearing, stealing plants or grazing animals. They do not create a commercial monopoly in photography as a defence against 'exploitation' nor allow it to control its image, despite NT claims to the contrary.
In the 1965 byelaws is this restriction on photography:
"17 'No unauthorised person shall on Trust Property sell or offer or expose for sale any commodity or article or for the purpose of trade or reward take any photograph'
It is this byelaw that the NT insists gives them the legal right and duty to limit photography to amateur, personal use. And further to prohibit sale to buyers and submission to libraries, as criminal offences. It seems clear cut.
But what the NT does not mention is that the section in which 17. appears is headed 'Hawking'. Hawking is the practice of opportunist street selling, involving 'swooping' on prospects. The intention of the Byelaw when created was to prevent, for example, photographers with monkeys haranguing NT visitors for trade.
In other words, this byelaw has nothing to say about commercial photography in the context of editorial or stock purposes because they are in no sense 'Hawking'. The NT appears to be twisting its own laws for the purpose of commercial advantage.
Interestingly, the penalties are anyway substantially less than NT charges for permits.
Penalties for Infringement of Byelaws 26. Every person who shall offend against any, of the foregoing Byelaws shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £20 and in the case of a continuing offence to a further fine not exceeding £2 for each day during which the offence continues, or such other maximum as may be specified from time to time by any Act of Parliament enacted after the date hereof.
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