Pursuing Paparazzi

I just got back from BC interior, where I was doing security for the cast of major motion picture being shot here in BC.  The air-tight confidentiality agreement doesn’t allow me to go into too much detail about some of my experiences, including four 9-1-1 calls, bears, knife wielding road-ragers, new scars on my hands, and my first up close dealings with paparazzi, but I feel once again compelled to question the actions of the media and police.

A righteous society creates laws in order to guarantee and increase freedom–not limit it.   For example, laws against murder may seem to limit our freedom to… murder …but in reality, the law gives us the freedom to live, and is consistent with the idea of upholding our highest laws, written into our constitution, called the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

One of the fundamental rights guaranteed to all citizens is the right to walk down the street and be in any public place or any private place we are authorized to be in, as long as we do not infringe upon the rights of others, as set out in the Charter.

Paparazzi are scum.  They stalk people and attempt to harass and entrap people to sell useless gossip.  They don’t care about how many lives they destroy.  Remember how Princess Diana died–murdered by paparazzi who delighted in taking pictures of a grusome accident.  Remember how Michael Jackson was declared guilty by tabloid media, but declared not-guilty by a jury.

“Stalking” is a clear violation of our rights, and there are several sections of the criminal code that can be invoked to protect us all from harassment.  Certainly, following someone around for weeks using sophisticated monitoring (spying) equipment and secretly taking pictures of people’s hotel rooms with a telephoto lens is illegal.  If an ex-partner did these things you could have them arrested and given a restraining order, as your rights, including your explicit right to privacy would be violated by such actions.

Yet, when I reported these same illegal actions to the police, they told me that nothing could be done as there was no criminal intent… so… paparazzi “accidentally” followed us through three cities?  Sounds like a double standard for citizens and media.  Let’s look at the criminal code for reference, with my notes in parenthesis:

PART V
SEXUAL OFFENCES, PUBLIC MORALS AND DISORDERLY CONDUCT

Voyeurism

162. (1) Every one commits an offence who, surreptitiously, observes — including by mechanical or electronic means — or makes a visual recording of a person who is in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy, if
(a) the person is in a place in which a person can reasonably be expected to be nude, to expose his or her genital organs or anal region or her breasts, or to be engaged in explicit sexual activity;
(Like taking pictures of a hotel room with a telephoto lens)
(b) the person is nude, is exposing his or her genital organs or anal region or her breasts, or is engaged in explicit sexual activity, and the observation or recording is done for the purpose of observing or recording a person in such a state or engaged in such an activity; or
(c) the observation or recording is done for a sexual purpose.
Definition of “visual recording”
(2) In this section, “visual recording” includes a photographic, film or video recording made by any means.

Exemption
(3) Paragraphs (1)(a) and (b) do not apply to a peace officer who, under the authority of a warrant issued under section 487.01, is carrying out any activity referred to in those paragraphs.
(Media is not listed as having an exception)

Printing, publication, etc., of voyeuristic recordings
(4) Every one commits an offence who, knowing that a recording was obtained by the commission of an offence under subsection (1), prints, copies, publishes, distributes, circulates, sells, advertises or makes available the recording, or has the recording in his or her possession for the purpose of printing, copying, publishing, distributing, circulating, selling or advertising it or making it available.
(This section specifically makes it a crime for media to use such images)

Punishment
(5) Every one who commits an offence under subsection (1) or (4) (Observing, recording or publishing)
(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or
(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Defence
(6) No person shall be convicted of an offence under this section if the acts that are alleged to constitute the offence serve the public good and do not extend beyond what serves the public good.
(Taking photos of people for money is not in the public good and it certainly extends beyond any claim of public good.  This sub-section protects people who would expose politicians or public servants)

Question of law, motives
(7) For the purposes of subsection (6),
(a) it is a question of law whether an act serves the public good and whether there is evidence that the act alleged goes beyond what serves the public good, but it is a question of fact whether the act does or does not extend beyond what serves the public good; and
(b) the motives of an accused are irrelevant.
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 162; R.S., 1985, c. 19 (3rd Supp.), s. 4; 2005, c. 32, s. 6


Let’s recap:  It is a crime to take pictures of people in their homes or hotels, as they may be nude, no exception is given to media under the law and in fact an additional sub-section makes it a crime to publish any photos arising from such behavior, and the motives of the publisher is not a defence.  Yet I am told that paparazzi is immune because there “is no criminal intent”–not for a sexual purpose.  Ultimately, we will never know if this paparazzi guy masturbates to my photo, but we could assume he does–cause I’m hot.  The law against voyeurism was clearly broken and not enforced by the police.  So, according to the RCMP, it is legal to stalk anyone as long as you claim to be with the media.  Why?
Let’s examine the arguments of the paparazzi:

“They’re public figures” What is a public figure?  If your boss approaches you about being in the background of a commercial as an employee, do you lose your right to privacy as long as the commercial is on TV? forever?

It is the media who chooses who is or isn’t a public figure (media figure).  The only reason we have heard of the Octo-mom, is because the media chose to focus on her instead of just reporting that she had 8 kids and then moving on to a real news story.  If she had only three kids anyone who hung around her house taking pictures would be arrested as a stalker.

“I’m on public property” So what?  The laws and our Charter Rights still apply.

As a legitimate blogger (media) who has previously reported on media issues, I am going to do a story on the next police officer that refuses to enforce the law.  I will stay outside their house and follow them and the people they associate with, around the city taking pictures and attempting to catch them doing something embarrassing or unlawful.  Somehow, I think that they will become far more eager to enforce the law… all I ask is that they enforce it impartially and protect the privacy of all.  Perhaps I will do another story on the paparazzo and see if he likes how he treats others.

To strengthen privacy laws and anti-stalking measures:

  • Prohibit recording and monitoring of private property without the consent of the owners and visitors.
  • Limit the number of pictures that a person can take of any person in a public place without their consent.  Limit the length of time one can record a person without their consent.
  • Prohibit all secret recordings.  People taking pictures should have to declare themselves and their real intentions, and show identification.
  • Give each persons image and persona the same protection of copyright law or trademark law–you own your image and no one should be able to make money off of you without your consent–especially since paparazzi often tries to ruin a persons reputation with their “coverage”.
  • Prohibit fake news.  News is an event that has relevance to the public.  Britney’s new haircut isn’t news and it shouldn’t be presented as news.

The media is not in business to inform us, or for the public good.  The media has no obligation to tell the truth or be fair.  It is up to us to hold them accountable and protect our rights.

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One response to “Pursuing Paparazzi

  1. Interesting points Dan, and well presented. I didn’t know we are working in the same field.

    You may be interested to know that Ontario is considering and has made some headway on requiring that any persons without consent videotaped in public (where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy) will have to have their face ‘pixeled’ to hide their identity. This applies to private investigators and may not to other fields but there is a bit of a swing or contemplation of one, back towards privacy.

    Law enforcement does range from good to bad and I wish more people had your sense of consistency and fairness.

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