Monday, January 31, 2011

Travel Writers and Publisher are in the Crosshairs of Hawaii Legislature

This came from a publisher that Feathered Quill has worked with in the past (Five Star Publications).  They are trying to get word out about what is happening in Hawaii with travel writers/publishers.

– you may or may not wish to write any of the Hawaiian legislatures – or just the governor – or send press releases. The legislature deals with this Monday: HB 548. So if you or any of your authors are concerned about this and the precedent it sets you would need to respond with your politicking ASAP. This could easily become law in other states if this is pushed through. 
If one of your authors mentions a site, location, event, beach, etc in Hawaii (or possibly other states)– someone reads about it and decides to visit it and for some reason that person has to access private property (by mistake or otherwise) and gets hurt --- the property owner is not liable – the PUBLISHER is! At the very end is what I wrote everyone on the lists below: 
Travel Writers and Publisher are in the Crosshairs of Hawaii Legislature 
Hawaii is trying to revise their statutes to make all publishers open to liability if their readers get hurt or killed. Here are the bills:

Background:
There are people in Hawaii who resent tourists being in places "they don't belong." To some, this means anywhere other than by their resort pool or on Waikiki Beach. A bill has been introduced and is being rushed through the legislature that would open publishers to liability if a reader got hurt on private land and the publication "encouraged trespassing." It sounds so reasonable. They say it's to shift liability away from private landowners if someone uninvited gets hurt on their land and was "encouraged to trespass" by an irresponsible guidebook, web site, magazine article, Twitter, blog or any other form of publishing. But that's a red herring because Hawaii Revised Statues section 520 already protects private landowners. In reality, this bill is aimed squarely at the publishing industry.
 The way this bill is written, every guidebook to Hawaii encourages trespassing, even if they don't know it.  Here's an example:
 
On Maui, every publication, even the Hawaii Visitors Bureau, encourages people to visit Honolua Bay. It's incredibly popular. Most people assume it's a beach park. In fact, most of the surrounding land is privately owned by billionaire Steve Case. Case permits public access, always has. But inside his giant parcel are smaller parcels (called kuleana parcels) and their owners don't want anyone there. They post NO TRESPASSING signs that everyone simply ignores, because no one actually walks through their tiny kuleana parcels to get to the beach. But this law means that by sending a reader to this location, even though the landowner allows access, if someone gets hurt they can sue the publisher because someone (not even the landowner who controls the land) posted a sign. There are literally countless places like this with complicated access issues that few writers or publishers would even know about. But they would now be liable for injuries or deaths.
 Also, even if publishers stopped doing any publications for Hawaii altogether as a result, it wouldn't matter. Someone could have a five year old publication, go to a place, "trespass," and sue the publisher for injuries the way the bill is currently written.
Lastly, even if a publisher never even mentions a place, they could still be liable. Many publishers have blogs and other means for their readers to express their thoughts to the publisher and each other. If these thoughts are on their web site, they are "publishing" according to this bill and therefore liable. This law would open the floodgates to limitless litigation for publishers who, until now, have been protected by the first amendment. It would effectively kill the travel publishing industry to Hawaii.
 
This bill was introduced by James Tokioka. If you want to give him your thoughts, here is his contact information.
James Kunane Tokioka
phone: 808-586-6270
fax: 808-586-6271
Below is the link to the contact info for every member of the house:
 Here is the senate:
 The Governor:
  
What Cass Foster wrote ALL of the above:

Aloha,
 
My name is Cass Foster and I'm a recently retired theatre professor who moved to Kauai from Arizona. My wife and I are unquestionably one of the most fortunate couples on this planet. We could not be happier with Hawaii and Kauai specifically.

I would like our situation to remain that way so I’m seeking your assistance. This is in reference to the legislative matter of HBs 548 and 552 – where if (552 – to paraphrase:) the reader trespasses onto private property to access an attraction that the publisher (not the land owner) will be held liable for injuries sustained by the reader on the private property. And at the same time 548 would exempt the property owners from liability should they be in any way negligent. And unless I'm mistaken,  Hawaii Revised Statues section 520 already provides protection to private landowners.
 
I am in the midst of writing a 90-minute comedy about the history of Hawaii. The play will include references to sites and locations on many of the Islands that could easily result in the readers visiting these places - since it is the intention of increasing tourism to Hawaii and showing off our great state.
All published works related to Hawaii would need to be revisited and all future publishing plans could be terminated if they have anything to do with writing or photography or possible film work about Hawaii. This has the potential to be a staggering economic nightmare to Hawaiians overall.
But worse, and I speak quite selfishly, my script can in no way be published or staged. Three actors portray nearly 60 characters telling the past 1500 years of Hawaii's history in a way that is informative and (we can only hope) endless laughter. This legislation will prevent this or anything related from being published, staged or aired. This is truly Big Brother in 2011 leading the charge in censorship.
 
If those of you who introduced the bill are rightfully concerned about protecting land owners from lack of control over a publisher or author possibly sending someone to their property that eventually gets hurt please revisit Hawaii Revised Statues section 520 protecting private landowners.

I hope the newly elected governor and the entire legislative body will be cautious about any influence to legislate in a manner that prevents or fears a free and open discourse to air and explore all perspectives. I have no doubt good thought has already gone into this matter. I'm just suggesting too little has been made public to believe.

I thank you for your time and look forward to your assistance.
Cass Foster
Kauai