More privacy restrictions or fair decision?

Started 11 months ago | Discussions
malcolml1
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More privacy restrictions or fair decision?
11 months ago

Paul Weller has won damages from a daily newspaper in the UK after a freelance photographer took some pictures of his children in a public place:

http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-27049435

On one hand, it was a public place.  On the other hand, it was in a newspaper and presumably intended to help sell more copies.

Do you see this as more evidence of censorship, or a correct decision based on what the intended use of the photos was?  Interestingly, the damages were awarded in the UK, even though the photos were taken in LA (and apparently legally under California law).

Malcolm

mike703
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Re: More privacy restrictions or fair decision?
In reply to malcolml1, 11 months ago

malcolml1 wrote:

Paul Weller has won damages from a daily newspaper in the UK after a freelance photographer took some pictures of his children in a public place:

http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-27049435

On one hand, it was a public place. On the other hand, it was in a newspaper and presumably intended to help sell more copies.

Do you see this as more evidence of censorship, or a correct decision based on what the intended use of the photos was? Interestingly, the damages were awarded in the UK, even though the photos were taken in LA (and apparently legally under California law).

Malcolm

It's not the taking of the photos that is the issue.  As you say, in the USA (and UK) photos can legally be taken in public places, including of other peoples children - if you want to take the risk of having to forcibly swallow your 300mm f/2.8.

The problem is the use of the photos.  in the UK 'journalistic use' is OK, but in a case like this the newspaper would have to prove that photos of someone else's kids in the park are a legitimate news item.  The kids are not themselves celebrities; they have not chosen to make a living by being in the public eye; there is no reason that the public needs to know what they are doing.

So it strikes me as completely reasonable that this use of the (legally-taken) photos was inappropriate. It's not 'censorship' but, to my mind, reasonable application of existing and well-established restrictions as to how images of other people can be used.

Best wishes

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malcolml1
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Re: More privacy restrictions or fair decision?
In reply to mike703, 11 months ago

Yes, I thought it was a fair judgement after thinking about it.  I guess it was a slow news day and they wanted to use the photos to boost sales, not for any particularly newsworthy reason.

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Richard Weisgrau
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Re: More privacy restrictions or fair decision?
In reply to malcolml1, 11 months ago

I think Mike703 has done a good analysis of the matter. On this side of the pond I do believe that the Mail Online would have prevailed, since the is no expectation of privacy in a public place, and the term News is very broadly interpreted. While I don't see the Mail Online as news media, it would be seen as that here.

If anyone has a link to the court's decision, I would really like to get it to see how the court reached its decision.

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Richard Weisgrau
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darklamp
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It's child protection not censorship
In reply to Richard Weisgrau, 11 months ago

Photographing a celebrity in public and using their photos is well established as being very broadly fine.

But the issue here is the kids. Courts will bend over backwards to protect a child's privacy. The accident of one or more parent being a celebrity is hardly justification for using the kids to sell newspapers.

Let's remember also that children of celebrities may be targeted by the same fruit cakes who target celebrities out of obsession or resentment. I do think that the children should be afforded protection from the media's unlimited greed.

And let's also remember there is currently a trial of editors and senior managers of a UK newspaper for allegedly (cough) authorizing extensive illegal hacking of phones in their thirst for headline. And that one allegation includes the hacking of the phone of a child who was murdered, including the deletion of messages by the people hacking the phone.

Yes, I think the media and journalists do need to watched like hawks and limited in what they can do.

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mgd43
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Re: More privacy restrictions or fair decision?
In reply to Richard Weisgrau, 11 months ago

I can only talk about how it is in the US. In the US the photo can be used for editorial purposes but not for promotional purposes without consent. If the court considers this photo promotional it would have to consider almost any photo in a newspaper promotional because every photo in a newspaper is intended to promote the sale of the paper.

If the issue is the newsworthiness of the photo then the court is making itself the judge of what belongs in a newspaper and what doesn't. I doubt if any court is the US would want to put itself in that position. I also doubt that the Supreme Court would allow it to. The US courts don't like to place restrictions on the First Amendment which allows freedom of the press.

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mike703
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Re: More privacy restrictions or fair decision?
In reply to mgd43, 11 months ago

mgd43 wrote:

I can only talk about how it is in the US. In the US the photo can be used for editorial purposes but not for promotional purposes without consent. If the court considers this photo promotional it would have to consider almost any photo in a newspaper promotional because every photo in a newspaper is intended to promote the sale of the paper.

If the issue is the newsworthiness of the photo then the court is making itself the judge of what belongs in a newspaper and what doesn't. I doubt if any court is the US would want to put itself in that position. I also doubt that the Supreme Court would allow it to. The US courts don't like to place restrictions on the First Amendment which allows freedom of the press.

Yes it's a delicate balance. As darklamp suggested the deciding factor could be the security of the children… plastering their faces all over the place in a national newspaper could increase the chance of unwanted attention from the sort of stalker who might fancy their chances of squeezing money out of rich parents.

Yes the kids were 'in public' by being in a park in the first place, but I don't like the idea that 'anything goes' in terms of taking and (more importantly) publishing photos just because of that. People have to be in public at some point, unless they want to live in permanent disguise or stay indoors for ever: being 'in a public place' (taking your kid to school, going to the shops…) should not be seen as tacit permission that paparazzi are immediately welcome, especially where children are concerned. I applaud the decision and hope it sets a precedent.

Just my opinion!

best wishes

PS (edit)… the newspaper argues that they were acting legally, and they may have a point.  But if they acted with a little bit more restraint in cases like this - voluntarily choosing to behave like reasonable human beings once in a while - then they wouldn't (in the UK) be facing the compulsory regulation that they are complaining about.

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Pantyhose Bandit
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Re: More privacy restrictions or fair decision?
In reply to malcolml1, 11 months ago

Look at the court judgement - they didn't think an awful lot of the case. The plaintif was awarded £10,000. Bear in mind he had to hire a legal representative, pay to stay in the UK and pay to fly over (Probably business class at $4,000 a seat and he probably didn't come alone) and you'll see that the court really didn't consider it to be anything more than a technical case. £10,000 is a very nominal sum to fine a newspaper. They make more than that every hour.

I wouldn't lose any sleep over what appears to be a weird decision.

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darklamp
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Weird comment
In reply to Pantyhose Bandit, 11 months ago

I wouldn't lose any sleep over what appears to be a weird decision.

I think it "weird" that you consider the decision odd.

Would you feel that way if your kids were being exploited by newspapers to make money ?

Regardless of how much the press or anyone else may like to delude themselves otherwise, no rights are absolutely unlimited.

When I start seeing reporters hound the owners of the rags they work for and publishing their kids photos, then I'll rethink that.

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Great Bustard
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Has there ever...
In reply to mike703, 11 months ago

mike703 wrote:

mgd43 wrote:

I can only talk about how it is in the US. In the US the photo can be used for editorial purposes but not for promotional purposes without consent. If the court considers this photo promotional it would have to consider almost any photo in a newspaper promotional because every photo in a newspaper is intended to promote the sale of the paper.

If the issue is the newsworthiness of the photo then the court is making itself the judge of what belongs in a newspaper and what doesn't. I doubt if any court is the US would want to put itself in that position. I also doubt that the Supreme Court would allow it to. The US courts don't like to place restrictions on the First Amendment which allows freedom of the press.

Yes it's a delicate balance. As darklamp suggested the deciding factor could be the security of the children… plastering their faces all over the place in a national newspaper could increase the chance of unwanted attention from the sort of stalker who might fancy their chances of squeezing money out of rich parents.

...been a case where that happens?  That is, a kidnapper or child molester saw a kids photo in the newspaper, and hung out in that area waiting for them to appear again, then follow them and later abduct them?

Yes the kids were 'in public' by being in a park in the first place, but I don't like the idea that 'anything goes' in terms of taking and (more importantly) publishing photos just because of that. People have to be in public at some point, unless they want to live in permanent disguise or stay indoors for ever: being 'in a public place' (taking your kid to school, going to the shops…) should not be seen as tacit permission that paparazzi are immediately welcome, especially where children are concerned. I applaud the decision and hope it sets a precedent.

Most kids would be overjoyed to have their photo printed in a newspaper or magazine.  I'm thinking this kid is no exception.  Regardless, this fear of public photos of children leading to disaster is nothing more than irrational fear talking -- no more valid than someone claiming that taking their photo will steal their soul.

Just my opinion!

For sure, and for me as well.  But, if I were to place a bet, I know where I'd be putting my money.

best wishes

PS (edit)… the newspaper argues that they were acting legally, and they may have a point. But if they acted with a little bit more restraint in cases like this - voluntarily choosing to behave like reasonable human beings once in a while - then they wouldn't (in the UK) be facing the compulsory regulation that they are complaining about.

Count me as an "unreasonable human being", then.

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darklamp
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What kids like should not be the first concern
In reply to Great Bustard, 11 months ago

Most kids would be overjoyed to have their photo printed in a newspaper or magazine

Just because a kid is made momentarily happy by something does not mean we should let it happen.

We protect kids from a lot of the things they'd like to do. That's what adults are supposed to do.

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mike703
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Re: Has there ever...
In reply to Great Bustard, 11 months ago

Great Bustard wrote:

Most kids would be overjoyed to have their photo printed in a newspaper or magazine.

So? Many kids would be overjoyed to be given a lift home by a nice stranger in a nice car. Doesn't make it a good idea.

But that is not the point here. Whether 'child protection' was or was not the motivation behind the court's decision - it was just one possibility that was speculated about above - the fact remains that the court found that the newspaper had acted unreasonably to the extent that damages were awarded against them. The judge ruled 'There was no relevant debate of public interest to which the publication of the photographs contributed. The balance of the general interest of having a vigorous and flourishing newspaper industry does not outweigh the interests of the children in this case.'

If you disagree, please let us know why the right of someone carrying a camera to follow kids around and repeatedly photograph them - despite being explicitly asked to stop by the parents - and then to publish the photos in a national newspaper, with their names included - is so essential to the fabric of society that it trumps the right of a family just to go for a walk without being harassed.

Count me as an "unreasonable human being", then.

OK.

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Great Bustard
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I am more than a little disappointed...
In reply to darklamp, 11 months ago

darklamp wrote:

Most kids would be overjoyed to have their photo printed in a newspaper or magazine

Just because a kid is made momentarily happy by something does not mean we should let it happen.

We protect kids from a lot of the things they'd like to do. That's what adults are supposed to do.

...that some people think photos of kids in a newspaper are so dangerous.

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Great Bustard
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Re: Has there ever...
In reply to mike703, 11 months ago

mike703 wrote:

Great Bustard wrote:

Most kids would be overjoyed to have their photo printed in a newspaper or magazine.

So? Many kids would be overjoyed to be given a lift home by a nice stranger in a nice car. Doesn't make it a good idea.

But that is not the point here. Whether 'child protection' was or was not the motivation behind the court's decision - it was just one possibility that was speculated about above - the fact remains that the court found that the newspaper had acted unreasonably to the extent that damages were awarded against them. The judge ruled 'There was no relevant debate of public interest to which the publication of the photographs contributed. The balance of the general interest of having a vigorous and flourishing newspaper industry does not outweigh the interests of the children in this case.'

If you disagree, please let us know why the right of someone carrying a camera to follow kids around and repeatedly photograph them - despite being explicitly asked to stop by the parents - and then to publish the photos in a national newspaper, with their names included - is so essential to the fabric of society that it trumps the right of a family just to go for a walk without being harassed.

As I said in my post above, I am more than a little disappointed that so many feel photos of children in a newspaper represents so much danger.

Count me as an "unreasonable human being", then.

OK.

Then again, I do make a decent side income selling drugs to elementary school kids dressed as a nun, so I'm probably a bit worse than others.

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mike703
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Re: Has there ever...
In reply to Great Bustard, 11 months ago

Great Bustard wrote:

Then again, I do make a decent side income selling drugs to elementary school kids dressed as a nun, so I'm probably a bit worse than others.

That was you?  You short-changed me, you thieving hound...

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Pantyhose Bandit
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Re: Weird comment
In reply to darklamp, 11 months ago

darklamp wrote:

I wouldn't lose any sleep over what appears to be a weird decision.

I think it "weird" that you consider the decision odd.

Would you feel that way if your kids were being exploited by newspapers to make money ?

Regardless of how much the press or anyone else may like to delude themselves otherwise, no rights are absolutely unlimited.

When I start seeing reporters hound the owners of the rags they work for and publishing their kids photos, then I'll rethink that.

Since it's a couple of brats in a foreign country, who gives a hoot?

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Great Bustard
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Re: Has there ever...
In reply to mike703, 11 months ago

mike703 wrote:

Great Bustard wrote:

Then again, I do make a decent side income selling drugs to elementary school kids dressed as a nun, so I'm probably a bit worse than others.

That was you? You short-changed me, you thieving hound...

Hey, at least you got some free candy out of it and a ride in my car. 

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darklamp
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Context
In reply to Great Bustard, 11 months ago

I am more than a little disappointed that so many feel photos of children in a newspaper represents so much danger.

You have omitted the context I made my remarks in.

So here it is again :

They are children of celebrities and celebrities attract the attention of all sorts of weirdos and nuts. There children are also targets of these individuals.

My remarks did not say anything about people living in general fear of having their kids photos in newspapers. That's your spin on what I said by omitting the context.

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gloaming
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Re: Weird comment
In reply to Pantyhose Bandit, 11 months ago

Pantyhose Bandit wrote:

...

Since it's a couple of brats in a foreign country, who gives a hoot?

The courts. When they give a hoot, the wise and responsible citizen sits up and takes notice.

It applies equally to both foreigners and brats.

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Pantyhose Bandit
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Re: Weird comment
In reply to gloaming, 11 months ago

If Joe Soap went to Memphis and photographed Jane Doe's daughter running around semi-naked making mud pies and exhibited the photograph as a print in a Manchester art gallery and posted it online on his portfolio, just how much attention do you think the courts would take of an enraged Jane Doe? Absolutely none - unless Jane Doe managed to create a huge kerfuffle and could wave enough wads of cash around to bring such a frivolous action to court.

As I have said before, the court clearly decided it was frivolous to the nth degree and awarded pretty much just costs. It was a case of the Judge deciding he'd had enough of both parties, had no sympathy for either and awarded a token victory to the affronted non-entity and costs against the newspaper. Result - neither side won and both can claim victory.

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