French Constitutional Council vs. Citizen Journalism

Posted by Bill Cammack On March - 7 - 2007

How backwards is this?


France bans citizen journalists from reporting violence

Law could lead to imprisonment of amateur videographers and Web site operators who publish their images

By Peter Sayer, IDG News Service

March 06, 2007

The French Constitutional Council has approved a law that criminalizes the filming or broadcasting of acts of violence by people other than professional journalists. The law could lead to the imprisonment of eyewitnesses who film acts of police violence, or operators of Web sites publishing the images, one French civil liberties group warned on Tuesday.

The council chose an unfortunate anniversary to publish its decision approving the law, which came exactly 16 years after Los Angeles police officers beating Rodney King were filmed by amateur videographer George Holliday in the night of March 3, 1991. The officers’ acquittal at the end on April 29, 1992 sparked riots in Los Angeles.

This is an amazing scenario. :/ According to the rest of the article, “the law targets the practice of ‘happy slapping,’ in which a violent attack is filmed by an accomplice, typically with a camera phone, for the amusement of the attacker’s friends.” In that case…… Why not target the practice of happy slapping? :/

Apparently they think that crime and bullying is dependent upon the ability to videotape said activities. People were getting attacked before videotape was created, and CERTAINLY before cell phones had the ability to record images and sound. There is going to be less effect on kids involved in happy slapping and more effect on people that just happen to be in the right place at the right time to record something that happened to someone.

Similar to the presence of police, the fact that “citizen journalists” have the ability to record something going on right here right now is a potential deterrent to crime. Making it so that anyone other than “professional journalists” might be prosecuted for taping something is making it EASIER for criminals to do what they do instead of tougher. Sometimes, it’s just AMAZING what people thing is a good idea. :/ You have to wonder if they’re thinking about their community or their own agendas.

Bill Cammack • New York City • Freelance Video Editor • alum.mit.edu/www/billcammack

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