14 July 2011

Miramar Park Bans 'Hobbit' Photos

Photo Credit: Tennessee Mansford

Anyone caught using cameras on Wexford Hill, Wellington Airport-owned property overlooking the Stone St. studios where Peter Jackson's 'Hobbit' films are being made, could risk deletion of their photos and face trespassing charges as well.

Six hard to miss notices - signed by Recon security, a company which works for the 'Hobbit' films' production company, 3Foot7 - have been put in place warning the public that while they may use the land for "usual recreation purposes," they are not permitted to take any photos of the property or people at the Stone St. studios.

Melissa Booth, the publicist for 'The Hobbit' films, said that everyone from the studio is currently on a two month break. A spokesman for the Recon company said that if its security officers find people taking pictures, they will be asked to delete the images and could potentially be issued a trespass notice.

Matt Clarke, chief commercial officer for the Wellington International Airport, acknowledges that the security company has a right to restrict people taking photos because "the land is privately owned and use is able to be restricted."

The airport has issued a license agreement protecting 3Foot7's copyrighted property from being infringed upon by people taking photographs or digital recordings of the site. The license is a practical arrangement, "not a commercial one," Clarke said. Ursula Cheer, associate professor of law at Canterbury University, stated that without actually seeing the license, it is difficult to determine its exact legal status.

"The production company through its agent, the security firm, is like the owner and can put up signs stating the conditions of coming on to the property," she said. "This means the notice looks quite effective."

"It does look as if the company is trying to avoid legal action, however, by confiscating and destroying the films, etc." 

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is slated for release on December 14th, 2012. Part 2 of the film adaptation, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, will debut the following year on December 13th, 2013.

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