Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Freedom from the Press

I just don't understand these sorts of decisions:

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling Tuesday lost a court fight in London to ban publication of a photograph of her young son.

Rowling, whose seventh and final Potter book was released worldwide last month to a frenzy of excitement and record sales, had argued at the High Court that her son David's right to privacy was invaded by the picture.

The photograph, showing Rowling and her husband Neil Murray with the child in a buggy, was taken by a picture agency photographer using a long-range lens in a street in her home city of Edinburgh in 2004.

The boy, now aged four, was 20 months old at the time. Rowling and Murray took action in the child's name against the agency, Big Pictures (UK) and Express Newspapers, seeking damages and an injunction banning further publication of the shot or any others of the boy.

But the court ruled that the law would not allow Rowling to carve out a press-free zone for her children and struck out proceedings against the photo agency. Express Newspapers had separately settled the claim.

Forget the law for a second. On policy grounds, does this make sense? Should the press have the right to publish pictures of a 20 month old kid who is not doing anything newsworthy? If so, why? Seems crazy to me.

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