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  1. #1
    drg
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    J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    News of a court decision regarding 'long lens' photography in a public place. The judge interestingly made a point of ruling in favor of an individual privacy, i.e. public v. private individuals, over some vague 'public interest' theory.

    From the article:

    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."


    Food for thought.

    Full article here:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7387490.stm
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  2. #2
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Re: J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    Uh oh. That's not good. Bad precedent, if you ask me. If we go down that road, we may end up in a place where you can't shoot anything without permission.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member AgingEyes's Avatar
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    Re: J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    "target", "publish", "media"? What exactly do they mean?

    If I see anyone of you post photo with me in it, can I sue you...whoever you are? Or the ruling only applies to babies ?

  4. #4
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    Re: J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    I can understand how they feel but it sets a precedent that is not good for photgraphers.
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    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Re: J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    You trade your privacy (and your family's) for fame. Tough luck.
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    Senior Member brmill26's Avatar
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    Re: J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    That really is a ridiculous ruling. A photograph, taken in public, of her pushing a stroller down the street, and printed in the newspaper violates "privacy?" What privacy? You're in public! The crux of the law, at least in America, is that you have no reasonable expectation of privacy in public (excluding the immoral hidden camera sort of crap)! And in particular, the law here vigorously protects news-oriented media. It'd be one thing if the photographer was trying to sell the image, but it's a different thing when it's used for "editorial" purposes.

    For all our British compatriots, I'm really sorry to hear that. It sounds like yet another hurdle thrown in the way of what seems like a major crack down on photography in Britain. Private photographers can't use publicly-taken images in the media, but it's ok for the government to have the most-watched populous in the world. Hmm...
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    Formerly Michael Fanelli, mwfanelli, mfa mwfanelli2's Avatar
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    Re: J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    Quote Originally Posted by Photo-John
    You trade your privacy (and your family's) for fame. Tough luck.
    Problem is, Rowling has never been a "fame seeker." In fact, her Potter books would have sold just as many copies if no one knew who she was. Think "Hardy Boys" if you are old enough. This is vastly different than those whose income is solely based on fame.

    Children obviously have no ability to decide issues of "expectation of privacy." Parents should not have the privacy rights of their children violated regardless of how famous they are. Sure, take all the photos you want of someone such as Tom Cruise, his child should not have the same criteria applied by association.

    Privacy means very little in the US. Or, as Scott McNealy (Sun CEO) said so long ago: "You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it." Thank goodness that someone in England, in spite of all the other anti-privacy measures, still has the common sense to say that not every bozo with a camera is privileged to do whatever they want.
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    Panarus biarmicus Moderator (Sports) SmartWombat's Avatar
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    Re: J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    A poor ruling, setting the wrong precedent.
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    Color me obvious dumpy's Avatar
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    Re: J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    In this situation I don't mind that ruling. papparazi, ET, People magazine and of course all the British tabloids are really just a way for overly boring people to stalk those with more interesting lives than their own from the comfort of their living room. It's the lowest form of journalism and photography (although I bet it does take some skill, similar to wildlife photos).

    However this precedent could be applied to other more legit photography and that is bad.


    Personally I think JK should just suck it up and deal, that goes with the territory of being famous. If she really doesn't want it to happen, she should convince her fans to not buy publications that print unwanted pictures of her.

    Edit: How do they define "long lens"??
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    Re: J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    Quote Originally Posted by dumpy
    In this situation I don't mind that ruling. papparazi, ET, People magazine and of course all the British tabloids are really just a way for overly boring people to stalk those with more interesting lives than their own from the comfort of their living room. It's the lowest form of journalism and photography (although I bet it does take some skill, similar to wildlife photos).

    However this precedent could be applied to other more legit photography and that is bad.


    Personally I think JK should just suck it up and deal, that goes with the territory of being famous. If she really doesn't want it to happen, she should convince her fans to not buy publications that print unwanted pictures of her.

    Edit: How do they define "long lens"??
    I think your view deals more with usage rights vs the right to take the photo in the first place. Just as a matter of clarification, perhaps. It would be much better if the ruling addressed THAT vs the action of taking the photograph.

  11. #11
    Color me obvious dumpy's Avatar
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    Re: J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    Quote Originally Posted by OmahaAdam
    I think your view deals more with usage rights vs the right to take the photo in the first place. Just as a matter of clarification, perhaps. It would be much better if the ruling addressed THAT vs the action of taking the photograph.
    Yes my issue is not so much with the photo being taken, but the way it is being used. That being said, as much as I hate tabloid media and like seeing them get screwed, I am completely opposed to government imposed restrictions on free speech. Hence my comment about JK trying to get her fans to use their wallets to encourage the tabloids to back off.

    So I guess a more accurate way to say it, it it had to happen to someone, I'm glad it was a tabloid.
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  12. #12
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Re: J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    This is a great discussion. Good stuff!
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    Re: J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    Granting people the right to privacy in public places is very, very bad- it eliminates public places. It raises the possibility that every photograph taken in public could potentially be confiscated for violating someone's 'privacy rights.'

    Here in California, long before Google Earth, some organization wanted to produce a single image of the California coastline and make it available to the public- possibly the coastal commission. Celebrities went nuts trying to prevent it in court (at great expense, of course, to all parties) because many have their mansions on the coast- it would violate their 'privacy.' The court, quite rightly, and quickly ruled, that if the photographs were made from a public place no privacy rights were violated. In other words- that's why windows have blinds, and that's why people have the free will not to act like jerks in public.
    Last edited by California L33; 06-22-2008 at 02:16 AM.

  14. #14
    Senior Member readingr's Avatar
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    Re: J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    Steady on chaps, All J.K. has won is the right for a full trial.

    The judge's comments stated that it is not about the taking of the photo but of the right of the child to privacy regardless of the parents under EU European Conevntion on Human Rights.

    The judge highlighted it was not about JK or husband but of the rights of the child who cannot defend itself and it was all about the use of the photograph for profit.

    He made it clear that if the photograph was for a street scene then the ruling should not be up held. If the photog had taken the photo without the child then all would have been ok. If they had asked for permission then all would be ok if granted.

    You need to read the ruling from the court case not the press's view of the ruling.

    They now need to go to trial for the ruling to be upheld and made into case law.

    As for the rights of the photog to take pics in public - then nothing changes - unless your targetting the babies of the famous who should in my mind be protected by law until they reach adult hood then its all fair game.

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  15. #15
    drg
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    Re: J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    Quote Originally Posted by readingr
    Steady on chaps, All J.K. has won is the right for a full trial.

    The judge's comments stated that it is not about the taking of the photo but of the right of the child to privacy regardless of the parents under EU European Conevntion on Human Rights.

    The judge highlighted it was not about JK or husband but of the rights of the child who cannot defend itself and it was all about the use of the photograph for profit.

    He made it clear that if the photograph was for a street scene then the ruling should not be up held. If the photog had taken the photo without the child then all would have been ok. If they had asked for permission then all would be ok if granted.

    You need to read the ruling from the court case not the press's view of the ruling.

    They now need to go to trial for the ruling to be upheld and made into case law.

    As for the rights of the photog to take pics in public - then nothing changes - unless your targetting the babies of the famous who should in my mind be protected by law until they reach adult hood then its all fair game.

    Roger
    I have read the ruling [ Murray v Big Pictures (UK) Ltd [2008] EWCA Civ 446 (07 May 2008) ], and if nothing else it highlights differences in legal approachs to the issue of freedom of the press in the U.S. and the EU. Please note: I said the EU and not England, Great Britain, etc.

    The appeal, and it is an appeal of a ruling which results in a trial, is based on EU law as much of more the what should be the hallowed ground of English common law.

    Hmmm, if you don't like one set of laws just go find another one.

    J.K. Rowling has a decided track record of wanting to have her cake and eat it too when it comes to the press and media exposure. Her wealth certainly has afforded her the ability to ensure her privacy in her homes and via security guards. Hesitant is not a word that applies to her willingness to avail herself of legal recourse when she is displeased with simple photographs.

    The subterfuge involved in this case of portraying herself as the wife of an invidvual who is not explicitly in the public eye, the 'fact of the case' that she was just out for a coffee with the 'family', with security guards of course, and that subterfuge was involved in the production of photos taken from and of persons walking down a public street all seem to point to wanting to engage in a 'sharp' defintion of privacy.

    The original ruling was to toss the suit by Rowling aka Murray. So, having money her solicitors invoked of all things and persons among others, Naomi Campbell!

    The idea of a press that can be routinely told, "No, I am not a public person today", or "No, you don't have my persmission because I'm with, 'fill in the blank'", is an odious one. Any public figure, benign or malevolent could thus circumvent all press coverage, and this would include government officials, criminals, or others needing a public hearing, simply by walking down the street with someone who " has an expectation of privacy ".

    I am all for the protection of children and them having a safe and as normal an environment to grow up in as possible. When Mom has more money than the Queen (perhaps not a great comparison), one has multiple homes, chaffeurs, body guards, never will have to worry a day in their life about anything financial driven, their life is not normal.

    In a society where at least one in four (British ministry numbers) people is on camera in public places at any given time due to CCTV security a few snapshots that were taken without creating an immediate harm seem rather meaningless. If a pack of individuals had impeded their progress, or caused the potential for immediate physical harm ranging from minor to serious, that is a different issue.

    There undoubtedly will be a 'trial'. But should there be in this case and did the court weigh too much the 'celebrity' factor?



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  16. #16
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    Re: J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    Quote Originally Posted by drg
    I have read the ruling [ Murray v Big Pictures (UK) Ltd [2008] EWCA Civ 446 (07 May 2008) ], and if nothing else it highlights differences in legal approachs to the issue of freedom of the press in the U.S. and the EU. Please note: I said the EU and not England, Great Britain, etc.

    The appeal, and it is an appeal of a ruling which results in a trial, is based on EU law as much of more the what should be the hallowed ground of English common law.

    Hmmm, if you don't like one set of laws just go find another one.

    J.K. Rowling has a decided track record of wanting to have her cake and eat it too when it comes to the press and media exposure. Her wealth certainly has afforded her the ability to ensure her privacy in her homes and via security guards. Hesitant is not a word that applies to her willingness to avail herself of legal recourse when she is displeased with simple photographs.

    The subterfuge involved in this case of portraying herself as the wife of an invidvual who is not explicitly in the public eye, the 'fact of the case' that she was just out for a coffee with the 'family', with security guards of course, and that subterfuge was involved in the production of photos taken from and of persons walking down a public street all seem to point to wanting to engage in a 'sharp' defintion of privacy.

    The original ruling was to toss the suit by Rowling aka Murray. So, having money her solicitors invoked of all things and persons among others, Naomi Campbell!

    The idea of a press that can be routinely told, "No, I am not a public person today", or "No, you don't have my persmission because I'm with, 'fill in the blank'", is an odious one. Any public figure, benign or malevolent could thus circumvent all press coverage, and this would include government officials, criminals, or others needing a public hearing, simply by walking down the street with someone who " has an expectation of privacy ".

    I am all for the protection of children and them having a safe and as normal an environment to grow up in as possible. When Mom has more money than the Queen (perhaps not a great comparison), one has multiple homes, chaffeurs, body guards, never will have to worry a day in their life about anything financial driven, their life is not normal.

    In a society where at least one in four (British ministry numbers) people is on camera in public places at any given time due to CCTV security a few snapshots that were taken without creating an immediate harm seem rather meaningless. If a pack of individuals had impeded their progress, or caused the potential for immediate physical harm ranging from minor to serious, that is a different issue.

    There undoubtedly will be a 'trial'. But should there be in this case and did the court weigh too much the 'celebrity' factor?



    Amen, Bubba.

    When any person can claim an expectation of _privacy_ in a _public_ place, you're not just on a slippery slope, you've fallen, gone over the cliff, and are headed for the rocks at the bottom.

  17. #17
    Senior Member readingr's Avatar
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    Re: J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    Perhaps its the way the UK and European Justice works and its so different to the US system (I don't know). At this time nothing has changed in UK or European law, so we can carry on taking photo's in public.

    JK now has to take this to court and it could still be thrown out. I agree that the child is entitled to its own privacy, and lot of people have used the law to ensure this, including Paul Mcartney in the past.

    I don't agree with the way the child is tarnished with its parents infamy and the privacy laws in the UK and Europe are totally ill defined and need to be addressed and that is essentially what the ruling stated. The question raised is, should the child be protected and if so in what circumstances. If the parents took it to a celeb bash then it would be a free for all, but if they take it for a walk, should they be pestered? That is the question raised by this ruling - what level of privacy should JK's siblings expect under EU/UK law.

    If the photo is taken in public then what right would you have to sell the photo for publication without the appropriate disclaimers. If the photo was sold as a street photo without recourse to the celeb who just happened to be in the photo then it should be okay according to the ruling as long as it is a street photo.

    In JK case it was sold to the press as a JK and family, not a street photo.

    As for the papers and the paparazzi then if they behaved in a more tolerant and non-evasive attitude then they may gain a bit of respect and a bit more co-operation from the "Stars". The papers can fight this in court - they have just as much money if not more. so its a fair fight from that point of view.

    Personally I deplore the antics of the paparazzi and count them as the lowest form of life along with ambulance chasers.

    As for your arguments about invoking whatever law suits you, then what would you expect from a solicitor or brief that you employed. I would expect him to do just the same for me and they would. If they didn't I could take legal recourse against them.

    As for CCTV argument - totally different law and it is not for sale - or shouldn't be without the appropriate disclaimers or anonymization. That argument does not stack up as it is completely different and comes under security not paparazzi commercial greed. If you find a pic of you on the news or paper from a CCTV without the appropriate disclaimer then you are entitled to take them to court unless you are undertaking criminal activity.

    I agree with you the EU and UK law on privacy is a mess but until someone takes it to court we won't know where we stand. If JK wins and we don't like it then we can pester the MP's to get it changed permanently using statute law.

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    Re: J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    Quote Originally Posted by readingr
    Perhaps its the way the UK and European Justice works and its so different to the US system (I don't know). At this time nothing has changed in UK or European law, so we can carry on taking photo's in public.

    JK now has to take this to court and it could still be thrown out. I agree that the child is entitled to its own privacy, and lot of people have used the law to ensure this, including Paul Mcartney in the past.

    I don't agree with the way the child is tarnished with its parents infamy and the privacy laws in the UK and Europe are totally ill defined and need to be addressed and that is essentially what the ruling stated. The question raised is, should the child be protected and if so in what circumstances. If the parents took it to a celeb bash then it would be a free for all, but if they take it for a walk, should they be pestered? That is the question raised by this ruling - what level of privacy should JK's siblings expect under EU/UK law.

    If the photo is taken in public then what right would you have to sell the photo for publication without the appropriate disclaimers. If the photo was sold as a street photo without recourse to the celeb who just happened to be in the photo then it should be okay according to the ruling as long as it is a street photo.

    In JK case it was sold to the press as a JK and family, not a street photo.

    As for the papers and the paparazzi then if they behaved in a more tolerant and non-evasive attitude then they may gain a bit of respect and a bit more co-operation from the "Stars". The papers can fight this in court - they have just as much money if not more. so its a fair fight from that point of view.

    Personally I deplore the antics of the paparazzi and count them as the lowest form of life along with ambulance chasers.

    As for your arguments about invoking whatever law suits you, then what would you expect from a solicitor or brief that you employed. I would expect him to do just the same for me and they would. If they didn't I could take legal recourse against them.

    As for CCTV argument - totally different law and it is not for sale - or shouldn't be without the appropriate disclaimers or anonymization. That argument does not stack up as it is completely different and comes under security not paparazzi commercial greed. If you find a pic of you on the news or paper from a CCTV without the appropriate disclaimer then you are entitled to take them to court unless you are undertaking criminal activity.

    I agree with you the EU and UK law on privacy is a mess but until someone takes it to court we won't know where we stand. If JK wins and we don't like it then we can pester the MP's to get it changed permanently using statute law.

    Roger
    There are so many problems with this it's difficult to know where to begin, but briefly-

    -defining privacy rights in a public space pretty much makes all public space private.

    -virtually any photo taken in a public space with a long lens could have been taken with a short lens, so having to differentiate between the two, define the two, and then litigate between the two any time someone takes offense, puts an onerous burden on anyone taking pictures. There have been some very famous photos taken candidly with short lenses where the people photographed didn't know it. The implication, and logical extension, of a 'long lens' law, would be that photographers would have to prove that their subjects knew they were being photographed before publishing a picture- resulting in a lawsuit every time someone thought a photo not flattering.

    -worse, if there is a privacy right in the public space, then it would, by extension, cover all light sensing devices- including the human eye. Should someone with celebrity status have the power to clear the streets to protect their 'privacy' from curious onlookers.

    -and the biggest problem is, and one that hasn't been addressed, is what harm can a photograph possibly do? Cameras capture reflected light- that's all. If published, they show what was taking place in a public place, nothing more. It's so clear that the public has the right to know what happens on its' streets that it's amazing it's even being discussed.

  19. #19
    Senior Member brmill26's Avatar
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    Re: J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    Ok, arguing that the human eye may be in jeopardy is a bit of a reach. However, there is one clear distinction I'm seeing here that explains why the Americans find this ruling so offensive vs. (some of) the Brits.

    In American law, anyone in a public place may be photographed and used for "editorial purposes" without any need for consent from the person in the picture. That ranges from children to adults; famous or homeless. There are some limits to keep "editorial purposes" reasonable - ie, no shots that reveal things that normally would not be seen (ex, devices that can see through clothes, or a camera placed in a grate in the street looking up would not pass) and what is "editorial" is interpreted very widely here due to protection of the press.

    Under American law, the fact that a photographer is paid for getting that shot is irrelevant - it's the way in which the shot is published that controls. On the other hand, if Joe Photog takes a shot of _______ and wants to sell 200 prints at $1,000 each, he needs a release from _______, no matter who ________ is, famous or not.

    Taking your word as the law over there, Readingr, it sounds as if England / E.U. does not offer the same freedom to the press and a release of rights must be obtained for any publication. If that is indeed the law, then the above ruling would be correct. If English law mirrors American law, however, and the judge made this decision based on a violation of privacy rights, then he is wrong under any reasonable understanding of "public." The fact that JKR just happened to have a kid with her is irrelevant as kids, in such a case, get no special protection under American law.
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  20. #20
    Too square to be hip. almo's Avatar
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    Re: J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    Quote Originally Posted by AgingEyes
    "target", "publish", "media"
    That's great. We are predators now. Thanks again paparazzi.
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  21. #21
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    Re: J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    Quote Originally Posted by brmill26
    The crux of the law, at least in America, is that you have no reasonable expectation of privacy in public (excluding the immoral hidden camera sort of crap)!
    That's not as cut and dried as you may think. Some years ago, Reader's Digest ran a story in their "That's Outrageous!" feature about a drug conviction being overturned on appeal. It seems that the officers involved used light-amplification technology to witness a drug deal in public, and the court of appeals ruled the the darkness had given the defendant a reasonable expectation of privacy, thereby throwing the case. I don't think I could classify that as "immoral hidden camera sort of crap".

    I'm not saying that I agree with it, just that even in the U.S., a 'grey area' seems to exist.

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    Re: J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    Quote Originally Posted by Medley
    That's not as cut and dried as you may think. Some years ago, Reader's Digest ran a story in their "That's Outrageous!" feature about a drug conviction being overturned on appeal. It seems that the officers involved used light-amplification technology to witness a drug deal in public, and the court of appeals ruled the the darkness had given the defendant a reasonable expectation of privacy, thereby throwing the case. I don't think I could classify that as "immoral hidden camera sort of crap".

    I'm not saying that I agree with it, just that even in the U.S., a 'grey area' seems to exist.

    - Joe U.
    I'd like to see that ruling. I'm not saying it's wrong, per se, but it sounds suspiciously like either a lack of fact checking (edit:by Readers Digest) or a set of circumstances that's been warped for effect by a politician, or maybe a ruling by an activist judge overturned a week later. Just about every police helicopter uses night vision without fear of having every arrest thrown out because of privacy rights, and the police routinely use long lenses to observe suspects in public places without warrants.
    Last edited by California L33; 07-09-2008 at 07:07 PM.

  23. #23
    Senior Member brmill26's Avatar
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    Re: J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    Quote Originally Posted by Medley
    That's not as cut and dried as you may think. Some years ago, Reader's Digest ran a story in their "That's Outrageous!" feature about a drug conviction being overturned on appeal. It seems that the officers involved used light-amplification technology to witness a drug deal in public, and the court of appeals ruled the the darkness had given the defendant a reasonable expectation of privacy, thereby throwing the case. I don't think I could classify that as "immoral hidden camera sort of crap".

    I'm not saying that I agree with it, just that even in the U.S., a 'grey area' seems to exist.

    - Joe U.
    Joe, I just finished doing some pretty extensive research, using both Google and legal resources. I couldn't find any case that had been overturned on the basis of an "expectation of privacy" in a PUBLIC place due to "cover of darkness." I will go right to the brink of saying such a doctrine does not exist in the US b/c it simply disagrees with almost any law or public policy I can think of. That doesn't mean there isn't a very circumstantially odd case or two somewhere in the country, but I'm well within the bounds of legal authority when I made the above statement regarding the crux/majority/gist of the law.

    Now, in my search I did find several cases where courts overturned arrests or convictions related to darkness (usually in the context of time, like 3am) because the police used such conditions or timing in a way that violated a person's 4th Amendment Right against Unreasonable Search and Seizure. Two points here: 1) NONE involved public places, 2) in any case, (alleged) criminal activity surveyed by the police which is subsequently used in court to seek a conviction is a COMPLETELY different thing than what is being discussed here. The 4th Amendment has nothing to do with freedom of the press in any legitimate manner, and it certainly would never apply in the above case. Its being irrelevant, I'll leave it at that.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member Medley's Avatar
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    Re: J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    I'll have to see if I can find the issue in question. Give me a few days though.

    - Joe U.
    I have no intention of tiptoeing through life only to arrive safely at death.

  25. #25
    drg
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    Re: J.K. Rowling wins in Court

    I am going to add an additional twist or wrinkle to consider.

    What of figures who have maintained or protected their privacy from the beginning of their careers? They were aware of and used that notoriety of facelessness to drive a mystique or for other reasons.

    Thomas Pynchon comes to mind as does the contemporary graffiti artist Banksy as two who've been zealous in their lack of a public persona. Various authors over the years have presented themselves as being of the opposite gender or even androgynous as part of an effort to let their work stand on its own.

    When or if that wall of anonymity disappears , it changes the original expectation of privacy I hope all would agree. Now come the 'but and however', if the individual pursues fame, uses publicity to garner attention and accepts awards and accolades based on that very interactive public stage, do they ever have the right or even practical expectation of returning to normal again?

    By extension do they not thrust their family and friends into that same arena as it is part of their life and 'story' from which they have thus profited?

    Should Rowling (aka whatever other nom-de-plume or alias she may choose ) even get a trial or is this a case of special privilege?
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