Lightning Round! Or, The Pitch Meeting I Never Had

It’s been a busy week, and rather than let these story scraps mummify my computer in post-it notes, here are some quick takes on things I’ve been reading about:

First off, I had no idea what the “Steven Tyler Act” was, but it’s already dying. According to the Associated Press’s reporting on the subject, this was a “celebrity privacy bill in Hawaii.” Just shooting from the gut here, but even though I find paparazzi fairly distasteful, this proposed legislation seems inane. The idea of using public funds (and time) to protect just a small percentage of the public seems ridiculous to me; while it’s true that they’re more likely to be surreptitiously shot than your average Joe, I see no need for the distinction here. You get an act like this passed by making it a general privacy bill, in which we’re all protected from nosy long-range cameras. (In the Facebook age, it’s not unreasonable to expect that there are pictures we wouldn’t want leaked of us, say, stumbling out of a bar.) And sure enough, AP reports that the bill is failing on those grounds, with people like Rep. Angus McKelvey noting that “there are enough legal avenues available to them [celebrities], including taking the issue to court because privacy is protected in the Hawaii constitution.” Sure enough, Lifehacker’s got a fairly comprehensive report on your rights to take and sell photographs: in general, public spaces are fair game, unless you’re shooting a private space from a public space, or if the photographs you’re taking are compromising someone’s basic privacy — for instance, zooming in to capture phone numbers on their cell phones or account numbers in a checkbook. Celebrities, if you really want to go after the paparazzi, you ought to be suing over someone’s right to sell (and profit) off of your image — which for some reason is illegal in a commercial sense (e.g., I can’t shoot a candid picture of Ryan Gosling and sell it to Pepsi) but not in a tabloid sense. Continue reading

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