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Rowling privacy victory to hit photographers
Old 05-07-2008   #1
bmattock
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Rowling privacy victory to hit photographers

I honestly did not think this would happen. But it has, and it is going to affect photographers in the UK. I'm glad it isn't in the US, but it just goes to show that anything can happen, anywhere.

JK Rowing Wins Battle to Keep Son's Photo Out of Newspapers

One might consider cheering her victory - after all, not many of us like the paparazzi, and it is true enough that they give photography a bad name. However, like them or not, they fulfill a function that society apparently wants (I don't, but someone does, and a lot of someones, apparently). They are also on the edge of what the legal rights of photographers are - like pornographers in a way. One might not have liked Larry Flynt, but he certainly helped establish some boundaries in what is and is not 'freedom of speech' in the US.

I have not read the legal decision, only the article, but it would appear at first glance that as of now in the UK, a person in public can prohibit their photograph being taken - or at least used for publication as 'news'.

Not really a bright day for photographers, although I have no doubt many will be thrilled by this news.
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Old 05-07-2008   #2
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Isn't it because JKR herself is the celebrity, not her son, and that the photo was going to be published in a newspaper? Her son isn't newsworthy. She certainly could not prevent HER picture from being published.
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Old 05-07-2008   #3
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it's a non-issue.

This dispute refers to identifying children of celebrities. You are still free to take photos of j K rowling, or indeed of her kids if they happen to be playing on the streets and you don't identify them.

It will only handicap you if you work for the Daily Mirror or similar, and you hope to put on sales by printing 'new' photos of celebrities' kids.

Edit: this doesn't, of course, mean that the onward march of celebrities' "privacy" is not relentless. We're still working through the implications of EU privacy law, and celebrities' attempts to copyright their own likeness, which will ultimately restrict photographers, journalists and all news organisations. For instance, in the UK it's risky to debate a celebrity's mental state unless s/he has placed it in the public domain. Likewise, a journo friend of mine who specialises in books on criminals, tells me how it's basically illegal to mention that someone served s prison sentence! Of course it's ludicrous, and is regularly flouted, but if you're a publisher without deep pockets, facing a rich criminal, you will not be able to mention a crucial aspect of his criminal past!

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Old 05-07-2008   #4
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The implications go far beyond photography. The State has set it self up as the only entity that may publish a news photo w/o censorship. It follows that The State is assuming control over the news, and the news has a large say in what many people think.

The UK seems to have gone far beyond the intrusive state surveillance seen even in the US. There are cameras on street corners, on buildings, in buildings, on highways, on the public transportation, looking out of the public transportation, in the subway and train terminals, just everywhere. Nearly all of these are controlled by The State, and all are subject to State officials demands to see the images.

Little by little, inch by inch, freedom has been taken away from the public, and unchecked power has been seized by The State. No citizen has been asked to vote on these draconian changes. Government propaganda has produced a mindset that anyone who questions these losses of freedoms is accused of being paranoid, unpatriotic, or of having something to hide.

They have cleverly manipulated the truth, so now it appears as if this ruling is a victory for public privacy, when in effect it is just one more loss of freedom. Brave New World indeed. But I will assuredly be seen as a crank for stating the obvious. Anyone that protests State control is obviously a misfit in society, or at least in the society being fashioned for us.

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Old 05-07-2008   #5
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The last time I checked, Great Britain is a democracy. If the people don't like the changes they're seeing, they're free to "kick the bums out". It may not have reached that threshold yet. But, perhaps it will one day. If you were talking about Burma, or China for that matter, we'd have an entirely different issue. There, short of armed revolution, The State is in complete control.
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Old 05-07-2008   #6
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Old 05-07-2008   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tripod View Post
Isn't it because JKR herself is the celebrity, not her son, and that the photo was going to be published in a newspaper? Her son isn't newsworthy. She certainly could not prevent HER picture from being published.
I don't get the distinction. Who decides who is newsworthy? You? Me? The courts?

If 'the public' wants to see photos of JK Rowling's kids, then that is newsworthy. Sorry, but it is. You and I may think it's silly for anyone to want to see that, but 'the public' disagrees with us - or such photos would not be in demand. Remember, the public generates demand for such things - they don't exist in a vacuum.

And when a photographer's right to photography ANYONE in public is infringed, it is an infringement that affects all.

If I take a photo of Joe Blow now (in the UK, at least), he may have a legal leg to stand on to demand that I delete his photo, because he is not newsworthy. In the past, that was not the case.
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Old 05-07-2008   #8
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The last time I checked, Great Britain is a democracy. If the people don't like the changes they're seeing, they're free to "kick the bums out". It may not have reached that threshold yet. But, perhaps it will one day. If you were talking about Burma, or China for that matter, we'd have an entirely different issue. There, short of armed revolution, The State is in complete control.
I do not know how the court system works in the UK. But in the USA, we do not live in a democracy, that is a popular misconception. We live in a representative republic, which is not the same thing.

The Supreme Court here (I presume something like the Appeals Court in the UK) makes decisions based on the constitutionality of laws - so if they were to say that taking photos of non-newsworthy people - or children in public - was not legal, then no amount of 'throwing the bums out' would change things - it would require a constitutional amendment, which is extremely hard to do.

What I am trying to say is that it is not as simple as just passing the appropriate law - if the same thing were happening in the US. I don't know if that argument applies in the UK.
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Old 05-07-2008   #9
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It would be nice if the pro-NRA and the anti-NRA folks keep their "discussions" with each other "on topic" here.

Sheesh.. one mention of a gun and we've already got a pro-gun bumper stick with Hitler even...

I was actually going to comment on the story but I'll take a pass and let this thread dissolve into the expected anarchy.

Dave
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Old 05-07-2008   #10
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The BBC news version of the story is here.

The following seems to sum up the reason for the judgement...

Judge Sir Anthony Clarke said: "If a child of parents who are not in the public eye could reasonably expect not to have photographs of him published in the media, so too should the child of a famous parent.

"In our opinion, it is at least arguable that a child of 'ordinary' parents could reasonably expect that the press would not target him and publish photographs of him."


So it's about the child, and not about JK Rowling herself - there doesn't seem to be any suggestion that one can no longer photograph famous people for news purposes.
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Old 05-07-2008   #11
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I'm not convinced that the 'protection from tyranny' argument holds much water.

Bulgaria was a heavily armed society during the communist era but didn't overthrow the (widely hated) government.

Old Tibet was quite heavily armed, but as HH Dalai Lama put it, "There's not much you can keep at home that is much use against tanks and bombers."

Finally, if the original purpose of the right to keep and bear arms is to be upheld, the weapon that must be permitted is the automatic/semi-automatic 'assault rifle' -- precisely the most widely-banned gun in the United States.

The Rowling ruling is, as Paul says, essentially a non-issue, relaying to identifying celebrities' children before they're old enough to be regarded as celebrities in their own right. Austin Mitchell's current work in the UK parliament is a lot more important.

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Old 05-07-2008   #12
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Originally Posted by bmattock View Post
I don't get the distinction. Who decides who is newsworthy? You? Me? The courts?

If 'the public' wants to see photos of JK Rowling's kids, then that is newsworthy. Sorry, but it is.
So if the public decides that they want to see Madonna taking a **** in a public toilet that makes it newsworthy, therefore you can take a picture ?

Laws are there to protect the weak. Children. This is not about news or not.
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Old 05-07-2008   #13
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Originally Posted by dcsang View Post
It would be nice if the pro-NRA and the anti-NRA folks keep their "discussions" with each other "on topic" here.

Sheesh.. one mention of a gun and we've already got a pro-gun bumper stick with Hitler even...

I was actually going to comment on the story but I'll take a pass and let this thread dissolve into the expected anarchy.

Dave
I'm sorry, Dave, but I'm getting tired of some of the screeds that seem to pop up all too often. And for the record, I don't start these things. I come here to discuss PHOTOGRAPHY. What a concept!

I did want to comment on the original post, so I'll say that Bill seems to have nailed it with his last two posts on the subject, so I have no more to add.

Edit: I deleted the message Dave referred to after reading a message down thread from Bill Mattock.
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Old 05-07-2008   #14
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The last time I checked, Great Britain is a democracy.
Great Britain is a "Constitutional Monarchy".... Whatever that means
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Old 05-07-2008   #15
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So if the public decides that they want to see Madonna taking a **** in a public toilet that makes it newsworthy, therefore you can take a picture ?
Here is where we disagree.

First, I did not suggest that anyone can take a photo of someone using the bathroom and publish it. The law allows for an expectation of privacy - and bathrooms are part of that. No disagreement from me. However, the courts (in the US) have consistently held that there is no expectation of privacy in public. 'public' being the key word, as in 'out in public'. A bathroom is not 'in' public, although it may be 'open to the public'.

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Laws are there to protect the weak. Children. This is not about news or not.
Here we disagree as well. Laws (in the West) exist to create and maintain an ordered society, with respect and protection for individual rights as they are defined and as long as they do not adversely affect the safety of society as a whole or infringe upon the rights of others.

Laws do not exist to 'protect the weak', but done right, they also serve that purpose. They also, you might note, protect the strong - if the strong are in the right.

This is entirely about what it appears to be about - the right of photographers to take photographs of whatever they wish that is in public view, and the right of publishers to publish those photos as 'news', however they define news.
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Old 05-07-2008   #16
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Originally Posted by bmattock View Post
And when a photographer's right to photography ANYONE in public is infringed, it is an infringement that affects all.

If I take a photo of Joe Blow now (in the UK, at least), he may have a legal leg to stand on to demand that I delete his photo, because he is not newsworthy. In the past, that was not the case.
Dear Bill,

For the first point, the basic flaw in your argument is easily illustrated by drawing the comparison with under-age sex. Your right to sleep with a 21-year-old is not infringed by the fact that you will be prosecuted if they find you having sex with her 11-year-old sister (or his 11-year-old brother, for that matter).

Children are normally deemed in need of more protection than adults, and most reasonable people would accept that: The extent of the protection is a fair subject for debate, but few, I think, would say there should be no protection at all.

Your second para is simply irrelevant to the present debate, as several others have pointed out. Unless, of course, Joe Blow is a child.

Cheers,

Roger
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Old 05-07-2008   #17
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Old 05-07-2008   #18
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Originally Posted by oscroft View Post
The BBC news version of the story is here.

The following seems to sum up the reason for the judgement...

Judge Sir Anthony Clarke said: "If a child of parents who are not in the public eye could reasonably expect not to have photographs of him published in the media, so too should the child of a famous parent.

"In our opinion, it is at least arguable that a child of 'ordinary' parents could reasonably expect that the press would not target him and publish photographs of him."


So it's about the child, and not about JK Rowling herself - there doesn't seem to be any suggestion that one can no longer photograph famous people for news purposes.
Thank you for posting this clarification.

I would disagree with the justice, not that it matters one whit of course.

People, including children, become 'news' for all sorts of reasons. Celebrities are such not because of some decree - they are such because they have caught the attention of the public, who demands more information. A child of a celebrity *is* a celebrity. Not because of what they've done, but because of who they are.

Take Paris Hilton (please). She was of no particular interest to anyone, in the sense that she was not a famous model, movie star, or anything else except (as far as I know), rich and slutty. The 'celebrity' as far as I know would have been her famous grandparent. And yet, she found herself a 'celebrity' for no apparent reason - who can gauge the whims of the crowd?

If Paris had a child (let us devoutly hope not), I presume such child would be a 'celebrity' as well. For what? Well, for nothing more than being the subject of the public's attention, that's all.

Celebrity is not a condition which is bestowed by some act, election, or conferment. It just means the public is interested in a person, that's all. So JK Rowling's child *is* a celebrity.

In any case - one might also argue that whatever the news sees fit to publish *is* newsworthy by definition - or they would not have published it.
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Old 05-07-2008   #19
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As an addendum to my previous post, it's worth pointing out that J.K. Rowling is an extraordinarily rich woman, whose child might well be a very attractive target for kindnapping. It would be next to impossible to stop anyone ever taking pictures of the child, but at least by preventing identification of the child in the gutter press, you can deter opportunists. This question of identifying the child is, it seems to me, at the centre of the ruling. This is an extremely small limitation of journalistic rights, and no limitation at all of the photographer's rights, provided there is no identification.

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Old 05-07-2008   #20
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Dear Bill,

For the first point, the basic flaw in your argument is easily illustrated by drawing the comparison with under-age sex. Your right to sleep with a 21-year-old is not infringed by the fact that you will be prosecuted if they find you having sex with her 11-year-old sister (or his 11-year-old brother, for that matter).

Children are normally deemed in need of more protection than adults, and most reasonable people would accept that: The extent of the protection is a fair subject for debate, but few, I think, would say there should be no protection at all.
In the example you used, the law is not related to 'protection' as much as it is to 'consent'. This is why (in the US), such laws are known as 'Age of Consent' laws. For the same reason, children cannot buy liquor, enter into contracts, vote, etc.

One may say "we do this to protect children" and there is truth in that, but legally, it simply has to do with a child not being legally presumed to have the capability to give informed consent as an adult might.

However, having a photograph taken of oneself in public does not require consent - so age does not enter into it.

How the photograph is ultimately used does enter into it. But in the US (and again, I apologize, I do not know much about UK law, I only presume it is similar), such prohibitions have been limited to 'commercial' use, from which use by the press is excluded from the debate.

Therefore, I am of the opinion that this ruling generates a new requirement - to obtain consent - where one was not present before in the case of photographs to be used in the news.

I might also ask in what manner a juvenile is protected by their photograph not being published? If they are in public with their parents, anyone who sees them knows that they are the child of those parents. A news photo simply expands the number of people who witness this event. How can this be an invasion of privacy when the parents and child were in public? Can the parents likewise demand that passers-by lower their gaze when passing by, so that their child is 'protected'?
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Old 05-07-2008   #21
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As an addendum to my previous post, it's worth pointing out that J.K. Rowling is an extraordinarily rich woman, whose child might well be a very attractive target for kindnapping.
One might then consider that JK Rowling is a criminal for exposing her child to that sort of danger by appearing with the child in public.

Taking a photograph of a bank and identifying it as a 'bank' and publishing it might well attract the attention of those who rob banks. In what way is that possibility my responsibility as a photographer or a news agency?
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Old 05-07-2008   #22
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Old 05-07-2008   #23
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Here we disagree as well. Laws (in the West) exist to create and maintain an ordered society, with respect and protection for individual rights as they are defined and as long as they do not adversely affect the safety of society as a whole or infringe upon the rights of others.
Your definition of West must not include most of the Western Europe countries then because the belief that the state and laws are here to protect the weak is deeply in our roots. This was put forward again in the inaugurational speech of newly elected French president Sarkozy when he came to power. So don´t generalize your US perception to the Western world as well as I will not generalize mine to all European countries.

Apart from that, we can all have point of view but I am kind of shoked to see some reasonings as "Now its Rowlings fault because she goes out in public with her child¨ What is your solution ? the kid stays forever in his house ?
Children are protected because they don´t have discernment and are weak targets. I feel a lot of dogmatism in some posts : if there is one breach in our right to photography in public, soon it will be all gone" Nobody is saying that / wanting that. But in times where Europe has been hit by a lot of secuestration / rap and minor sex scandals, the awareness on children protection is very high and action needs to be taken. Take for example the Austrian scandal about a father that secuestrated his daughter for 24 years and rapped her to give birth to 6 children. Is it newsworthy ? Probably ? Will people want to see pictures of the children ? probably. Should the press be allowed to show it ? Of course not, these children had already their lives ruined for many years, do you want them to suffer more because they get recognized in every corner they go as they do headlines? I believe and hope the Austrian laws will prevent that like they do in France. Please, a bit of humanity, nobody is going to prevent you from shooting in public places.
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Old 05-07-2008   #24
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I do not know how the court system works in the UK. But in the USA, we do not live in a democracy, that is a popular misconception. We live in a representative republic, which is not the same thing.

The Supreme Court here (I presume something like the Appeals Court in the UK) makes decisions based on the constitutionality of laws - so if they were to say that taking photos of non-newsworthy people - or children in public - was not legal, then no amount of 'throwing the bums out' would change things - it would require a constitutional amendment, which is extremely hard to do.

What I am trying to say is that it is not as simple as just passing the appropriate law - if the same thing were happening in the US. I don't know if that argument applies in the UK.
Bill,
You are quite right here. Great Britain's judicial system is similar to ours. Decisions from the bench are not subject to government oversight and thus are not something the voters can readily change.

My comments were in reference to a previous poster's reference to the current issue of State surveillance in Great Britain. This is a police action which is overseen and managed by the appropriate cabinet member (usually the Minister of Justice, or someone similar) and thus is subject to democratic oversight.
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Old 05-07-2008   #25
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Your definition of West must not include most of the Western Europe countries then because the belief that the state and laws are here to protect the weak is deeply in our roots..
Not only that: the strong don't need laws, because they can simply take what they like. Most rational laws are designed to stop this sort of thing happening. So, in a very real sense, the vast majority of laws ARE for the protection of the weak. That they sometimes protect the strong and wealthy as well is commonly a side-effect; the rich man is protected from robbery by the same laws that protect the beggar's sou.

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Old 05-07-2008   #26
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Not only that: the strong don't need laws, because they can simply take what they like. Most rational laws are designed to stop this sort of thing happening. So, in a very real sense, the vast majority of laws ARE for the protection of the weak. That they sometimes protect the strong and wealthy as well is commonly a side-effect; the rich man is protected from robbery by the same laws that protect the beggar's sou.

Cheers,

Roger
Fully agree, good clarification.
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Old 05-07-2008   #27
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Your definition of West must not include most of the Western Europe countries then because the belief that the state and laws are here to protect the weak is deeply in our roots. This was put forward again in the inaugurational speech of newly elected French president Sarkozy when he came to power. So don´t generalize your US perception to the Western world as well as I will not generalize mine to all European countries.
I will restrict my comments, then, to the US and UK.

Quote:
Apart from that, we can all have point of view but I am kind of shoked to see some reasonings as "Now its Rowlings fault because she goes out in public with her child¨ What is your solution ? the kid stays forever in his house ?
You misunderstood me. I was not suggesting that Rowling keep her kid in the house. I was suggesting that if publishing an identified photo of her kid increases the chance of that child being kidnapped - and that therefore it should not be done, then it is logical to also assume that she herself puts the child at risk by appearing in public with that child. I was arguing the fallacy of the former, not the necessity of the latter.

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Children are protected because they don´t have discernment and are weak targets.
What is a child protected from when their identified photograph appears in the news?

Quote:
I feel a lot of dogmatism in some posts : if there is one breach in our right to photography in public, soon it will be all gone" Nobody is saying that / wanting that. But in times where Europe has been hit by a lot of secuestration / rap and minor sex scandals, the awareness on children protection is very high and action needs to be taken.
I believe that dams are breached because leaks in them are not repaired. Rights are abrogated in similar ways.

Or, as it is sometimes said: "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."

Quote:
Take for example the Austrian scandal about a father that secuestrated his daughter for 24 years and rapped her to give birth to 6 children. Is it newsworthy ? Probably ? Will people want to see pictures of the children ? probably. Should the press be allowed to show it ? Of course not, these children had already their lives ruined for many years, do you want them to suffer more because they get recognized in every corner they go as they do headlines?
First, many developed countries have 'shield' laws to protect the victims of sexually-based crimes from being identified in the press. I presume Germany does too. JK Rowling's child is the victim of no sexual abuse, I presume.

Second, I do not 'want' for anyone to be identified in particular. I don't have any personal interest in seeing JK Rowling's child - identified or not. Arguing in favor of a news agency's right to publish a photo is not the same as saying I want them to do it.

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I believe and hope the Austrian laws will prevent that like they do in France. Please, a bit of humanity, nobody is going to prevent you from shooting in public places.
I don't think you can put the children of that monster and the child of JK Rowling into the same box and compare them in this way.

As to 'humanity', please. Argue from logic, argue from fact, argue from opinion. But please don't accuse me of inhumanity to shut me up.
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Old 05-07-2008   #28
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Not only that: the strong don't need laws, because they can simply take what they like. Most rational laws are designed to stop this sort of thing happening. So, in a very real sense, the vast majority of laws ARE for the protection of the weak. That they sometimes protect the strong and wealthy as well is commonly a side-effect; the rich man is protected from robbery by the same laws that protect the beggar's sou.

Cheers,

Roger
Nonsense. Laws are a byproduct of society, and societies are formed by people, without reference to 'strong' or 'weak'.

Laws are intended to create and maintain an ordered society - and if the 'strong' and 'rich' and 'powerful' were impeded by such laws, they'd simply have not allowed them to happen in the first place. Do you suppose they were napping whilst the poor and unempowered snuck in one night and wrote a constitution or two?

Who forced the Magna Carta to be created and signed? The weak? The poor?

The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike.
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Old 05-07-2008   #29
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As to 'humanity', please. Argue from logic, argue from fact, argue from opinion. But please don't accuse me of inhumanity to shut me up.
The humanity term is probably a bit too harsh from me, sorry about that. Yet, it came as a response to your statement that Rowling behavior was at fault because she was in a public place with her child and I believe my argument came before that. I found that suggestion pretty harsh myself.

Now where do you draw the line between the Austrian children and Rowling's child ? Why can't I compare it ? The UK law would apply to both I guess. Do you have to be a victim to have such laws apply to you? If Rowling sued the news agency, it is probably because she felt it was endangering her child life.
Finally, I believe that you don't want to see her child in the news, so as many of us, but as you demonstrated it seems to be newsworthy, an even better reason for the state and law to help
protect her child.

Finally, you might find nonsense that law is here to protect the weak, it is your right. These are two fundamental different ways to perceive to goal of the state and his legislative power. Debating on that more would need nowhere and we should keep it off this thread.
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Old 05-07-2008   #30
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I have not read the legal decision, only the article, but it would appear at first glance that as of now in the UK, a person in public can prohibit their photograph being taken - or at least used for publication as 'news'.
We keep bouncing this back and forth, but the fact remains that this contention is simply wrong.

if you want to revise your argument to suggest that this is the 'thin end of the wedge', then there's a logical basis to that - but not a very good one. There has always been a legal distinction between the law as it applies to minors, and to adults. Te ruling that the child has a right to privacy is a reasonable one - furthermore, there was no public interest in publication of the photograph.

If the right to privacy had been extended to rowling's husband, and there was a public interest in the story, I would be on the barricades with you, but I can't see how this is anything other than a non-event.
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Old 05-07-2008   #31
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Now where do you draw the line between the Austrian children and Rowling's child ? Why can't I compare it ?
Sorry, I meant it in the sense that the two are 'not comparable' as opposed to 'you cannot compare them'.

More on why in a moment...

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The UK law would apply to both I guess.
Actually, I would guess not. At least in the US, sexual crime shield laws protect victims of sexual crimes only.

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Do you have to be a victim to have such laws apply to you?
Yes, generally. In the US, 'shield' laws are at once a protection and an understanding that this is a unique situation - in other words, if the victim were a victim of a purse snatching as opposed to a sex crime, the protection would not apply and the right of the press to publish photos they deem newsworthy would be paramount.

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If Rowling sued the news agency, it is probably because she felt it was endangering her child life.
I have no doubt she did. I will note that her 'feeling' is not the same as being a victim of a crime.

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Finally, I believe that you don't want to see her child in the news, so as many of us, but as you demonstrated it seems to be newsworthy, an even better reason for the state and law to help protect her child.
Again I ask - protect her child from WHAT?

The right of the press to publish what they deem to be newsworthy should (in my opinion) be paramount UNLESS some person's rights (not feelings but rights) are abridged thereby - and then it is a matter for the courts to decide which has priority in any given situation.

I do not see that JK Rowling's child has been the victim of any crime. Could she be? I'm sure. But shield laws protect victims of actual crimes, not crimes that haven't occurred, with no credible evidence that they're about to occur.

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Finally, you might find nonsense that law is here to protect the weak, it is your right. These are two fundamental different ways to perceive to goal of the state and his legislative power. Debating on that more would need nowhere and we should keep it off this thread.
I agree. I'll drop it.
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Old 05-07-2008   #32
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I do not know how the court system works in the UK. But in the USA, we do not live in a democracy, that is a popular misconception. We live in a representative republic, which is not the same thing.
Unless you take democracy to mean only an Athenian-like direct participation by citizens in the decisions of government, I don't think I can see any distinction here. The US electoral system is simply the mechanism by which you choose your representatives. It's a kind of indirect or representative democracy like any of the dozens of others in use around the world. As long as it produces governments which are chosen - and can be removed - by the people it fits any of the common modern definitions .


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The Supreme Court here (I presume something like the Appeals Court in the UK) makes decisions based on the constitutionality of laws - so if they were to say that taking photos of non-newsworthy people - or children in public - was not legal, then no amount of 'throwing the bums out' would change things - it would require a constitutional amendment, which is extremely hard to do.
It's not like that in the UK since we have no constitution which sits higher than laws made through the usual legislative process. Broadly speaking there's no law which Parliament cannot change simply by passing another law. And the only function of the court system is to interpret and apply the laws. Unlike the US courts they have no role in applying separate, higher constitutional tests.

So throwing out the old bums is a remedy, at least in principle. But that assumes that the bums-in-waiting are a better bet, which they rarely are.
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Old 05-07-2008   #33
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. . . legally, it simply has to do with a child not being legally presumed to have the capability to give informed consent as an adult might.

However, having a photograph taken of oneself in public does not require consent - so age does not enter into it.
Dear Bill,

To borrow your own style of argument -- distinctions without differences -- the child does not consent to be a celebrity, and is therefore protected in the same way as the unfortunate Austrian children mentioned by another poster.

Also, no consent is required for an adult to be falsely identified, e.g. as a paedophile, but legal protection is afforded against false identification. Identification of a child as a 'false celebrity' is, I suggest, in the same class.

'Slippery slope' arguments are nothing novel, but you are inclined to stake out your position in all-but-absolutist terms. Of course you eat an elephant one bite at a time; but the first time you sink your teeth into a live elephant, it is not much of a threat to the mighty pachyderm.
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Old 05-07-2008   #34
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We keep bouncing this back and forth, but the fact remains that this contention is simply wrong.
It is not a 'fact' and I reject it as such.

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if you want to revise your argument to suggest that this is the 'thin end of the wedge', then there's a logical basis to that - but not a very good one. There has always been a legal distinction between the law as it applies to minors, and to adults.
Yes, there is. And it deals with the right of a child to give their consent. This applies to situations in which consent is necessary. Public photography for purpose of news reporting is not one for which consent is required. No consent required equals no consent based on age required as well.

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Te ruling that the child has a right to privacy is a reasonable one - furthermore, there was no public interest in publication of the photograph.
You stating that it is reasonable is not an argument, it is an opinion. I disagree. A person, in public, has no general right to expectation of privacy. This is actually a fact, as opposed to opinion, at least in the USA.

I also think we disagree on what the 'public interest' is with regard to news reporting. You may feel that the public ought not to have an interest in photographs of JK Rowling's child. But the proof is that 'the public' (as opposed to the general good) does want to see such photos, else the news would not collect and publish such things. Newspapers and periodicals do not generate demand - in fact it is the opposite. The photos are published because the public wishes to see them. That is the public interest, even if I may privately agree with you that it serves the public good not at all.

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If the right to privacy had been extended to rowling's husband, and there was a public interest in the story, I would be on the barricades with you, but I can't see how this is anything other than a non-event.
"Mighty oaks from little acorns grow."

I am not suggesting that barricades need be manned at this time. I do see it as another brick in the wall, however small and inconsequential it may seem to you.
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Old 05-07-2008   #35
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Who forced the Magna Carta to be created and signed? The weak? The poor?
Oh, dear, Bill, you've done it again. Your talent for 'own goals' is impressive.

Individually, the barons were weaker (and poorer) than the king.

United, they were stronger.

The same was true of the common people (led, it is true, by a nascent bourgeoisie) in the French Revolution.

The weak -- and weakness is always relative -- band together to pass laws to restrain those who are stronger, or who claim greater strength.

Q.E.D.

Roger

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Old 05-07-2008   #36
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To borrow your own style of argument -- distinctions without differences -- the child does not consent to be a celebrity, and is therefore protected in the same way as the unfortunate Austrian children mentioned by another poster.
One consents to engage in sexual relations.

One consents to enter into binding legal contracts.

One consents to a variety of things, but in all things requiring the notion of consent, there is at root a choice. One can refuse to engage in sexual activity. One can refuse to sign a contract.

Celebrity, however one may wish the term be used, is not something one takes unto oneself by voluntary action, nor can one refuse its loving embrace. Celebrity is bestowed.

Fickle though it is, arbitrary as the public's taste appears to be, celebrity is bestowed on hero and villain alike, on rich and poor, with good consequences and bad.

One thinks of politicians and movie stars who seek the limelight and revel in celebrity - but many are those who seek such acclaim in vain.

One also thinks of the Richard Jewels of the world, celebrities against their will, while the world reviles them for crimes they did not commit and ignores them by revoking that same celebrity when it is found they were entirely innocent - and in fact, heroes.

From Joey Buttafuco to the late Teflon Don, from the late Richard Nixon to the late DC Madam - celebrity targets whom it targets. One does not choose to engage celebrity, and consent is not required.
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Old 05-07-2008   #37
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Oh, dear, Bill, you've done it again. Your talent for 'own goals' is impressive.
I accept your argument and concede. The snottiness is not required. Have a nice day.
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Old 05-07-2008   #38
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Again I ask - protect her child from WHAT?
Rowling is the biggest net worth in the UK currently I believe, so it gives many reasons for her not want people see her child because : - they will identify who her child is, - identify where she hangs with him, -raise awareness of some Wacko that she has a child, - etc, -etc . Again, if she went to court, she must have pretty good reasons, nobody does it for fun.

Ok, I am soon off to Burgundy for a long weekend. Will try to shoot some pictures in the streets of this rural areas. They will tell me that I can't take their pictures without agreement to what I could argue that the law allows me to do so. And I'll get the typical reply "You can stick your law up your a.. " ... Laws are here too protect against the weak, but what can you answer to that!
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Old 05-07-2008   #39
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Unless you take democracy to mean only an Athenian-like direct participation by citizens in the decisions of government, I don't think I can see any distinction here. The US electoral system is simply the mechanism by which you choose your representatives. It's a kind of indirect or representative democracy like any of the dozens of others in use around the world. As long as it produces governments which are chosen - and can be removed - by the people it fits any of the common modern definitions .

It's not like that in the UK since we have no constitution which sits higher than laws made through the usual legislative process. Broadly speaking there's no law which Parliament cannot change simply by passing another law. And the only function of the court system is to interpret and apply the laws. Unlike the US courts they have no role in applying separate, higher constitutional tests.

So throwing out the old bums is a remedy, at least in principle. But that assumes that the bums-in-waiting are a better bet, which they rarely are.
I see. Well, that's something new I've learned today. By being strict in my definition of 'democracy' I only meant to distinguish from the often-heard ''but that's what the majority wants'' argument for nearly any ill. Pure democracy is mob rule, and most of us don't want it, unless it is our ox which is being gored.

"The majority" may well want children not to be photographed if they are in public - or at least not have their photographs published in the news with identification. But if what 'the majority' wants is the final arbiter, we should have killed all the Catholics in the USA when that's what 'the majority' wanted. I'm being facetious, but to demonstrate a point. What representative republics do is make sure that the will of the people is represented, but not that public laws change radically with the ebb and flow of the the zeitgeist.
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Old 05-07-2008   #40
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Rowling is the biggest net worth in the UK currently I believe, so it gives many reasons for her not want people see her child because : - they will identify who her child is, - identify where she hangs with him, -raise awareness of some Wacko that she has a child, - etc, -etc . Again, if she went to court, she must have pretty good reasons, nobody does it for fun.
So what you are saying is that her child is to be afforded more protection than my child or your child, and again, not because of a crime or even the threat of a crime, but because she fears that a crime might be committed.

And again - you seem to be restating that since she took the trouble to go to court, the reason must be 'good', and by implication, valid.

Lots of people sue. I'm sure it is important to them, or they would not do it. Therefore, they have a 'valid reason' to go to court. That does not mean they have a valid reason to win. I know some people in favor of mandatory prayer in public schools who love to go to court - they have perfectly valid (to them) reasons for so doing. That does not make them right. Thank goodness.

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Ok, I am soon off to Burgundy for a long weekend. Will try to shoot some pictures in the streets of this rural areas. They will tell me that I can't take their pictures without agreement to what I could argue that the law allows me to do so. And I'll get the typical reply "You can stick your law up your a.. " ... Laws are here too protect against the weak, but what can you answer to that!
Please enjoy. I continue to shoot what I like in public. Only on rare occasions am I challenged. I am no longer the firebrand I once was regarding my need to fight every battle. But I am well aware of the general erosion of our rights as photographers, and remain dismayed at how many fellow photographers actually prefer that such rights be terminated.

I posit that they will feel differently one day.
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