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In France, Only Journalists Can Film Violence

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the possibly-intended-consequences dept.

Censorship 531

BostonBTS sends word that the French Constitutional Council has just made it illegal to film violence unless you are a professional journalist (or to distribute a video containing violence). The law was approved exactly 16 years after amateur videographer George Holliday filmed Los Angeles police officers beating Rodney King. The Council was tidying up a body of law about offenses against the public order, and wanted to ban "happy slapping." A charitable reading would be that the lawmakers stumbled into unintended consequences. Not according to Pascal Cohet, a spokesman for French online civil liberties group Odebi: "The broad drafting of the law so as to criminalize the activities of citizen journalists unrelated to the perpetrators of violent acts is no accident, but rather a deliberate decision by the authorities, said [Cohet]. He is concerned that the law, and others still being debated, will lead to the creation of a parallel judicial system controlling the publication of information on the Internet."

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531 comments

Security Footage (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256112)

Let's hope security camera footage doesn't count.

Were the French tired of all the car-burning footage?

Re:Security Footage (3, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256242)

It's not the car-burning footage. It's the politicians-partying-while-Paris-burns footage that French officials didn't like.

Ah, liberalism (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256966)

This is the same country where all news reports about the Muslim riots referred to them as "youths" or "foreigners." Nobody would call them Muslims or explain why they were rioting. At most, there were vague references to some sort of frustration with poverty, ignoring the Islamic factor behind the riots. See here [wikipedia.org] where a French journalists flat-out admits to self-censored reporting because he didn't want to "encourage support for far-right politicians."

Ah, liberal fascism. And to think that American liberals adore the Western European way of doing things.

Workaround (4, Interesting)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256124)

So, what do you have to do in order to be considered a journalist in France?

Re:Workaround (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256182)

So, what do you have to do in order to be considered a journalist in France?

Join the army.

Re:Workaround (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256320)

The two are not mutually exclusive!

What We're Doing (5, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256258)

To be a journalist, you should have to publish what you record. What other business does the government have in defining a journalist, except the essential operation that defines them.

And if you don't publish, then how is it illegal to have a record of what your own senses experienced?

Why should media corporations that officials prefer have all the privileges? Already many amateur bloggers are better than practically all the pro journalists working today.

Re:What We're Doing (1)

saskboy (600063) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256450)

Well said. The act of uploading recorded events makes the recorder/uploader a journalist. The media is the message, and the message defines a journalist?

Re:What We're Doing (2, Interesting)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256468)

"To be a journalist, you should have to publish what you record. What other business does the government have in defining a journalist, except the essential operation that defines them."

Is this opinion based on French jurisprudence? This sounds suspiciously American. I don't really know much about the French system, but they may not have a constitution, or any natural rights inherent in their system. The government might have total authority to define who a journalist is.

I just did some preliminary googling, and I didn't see anything about journalism or the press in the French constitution.

"And if you don't publish, then how is it illegal to have a record of what your own senses experienced?"

Apparently, they just passed a law making it illegal. I mean, didn't you read the article? ;)

Re:What We're Doing (4, Insightful)

GiovanniZero (1006365) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256636)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declaration_of_the_Ri ghts_of_Man_and_of_the_Citizen [wikipedia.org]

They do indeed have something akin to the constitution which guarantees human rights as well as freedom of speech.

As someone that loves france (I lived there for a few years) I'm so deeply saddened by this horrible choice they've made. I suspect it won't stand but that remains to be seen. France has been a forward thinker in human rights for so many years(they're one of the only nations in Europe to accept refugees and grant asylum) which just adds the the craziness of this law.

France's motto, Liberté, égalité, fraternité or (Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood) doesn't seem very well upheld by this new law which does not grant liberty, removes equality and is very unlikely to foster any brotherhood.

Re:What We're Doing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256928)

It won't stand for long. This is the equivalent of some judge in some random US court making a dumb ass decision. It happens all the time. There is a big outcry in the media and then next thing you know the decision is reversed. The French go hog wild over their liberty, especially when it comes to journalism. Reporters without borders were founded and are still based in France.

Re:What We're Doing (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256970)

France has been a forward thinker in human rights for so many years(they're one of the only nations in Europe to accept refugees and grant asylum) ...

That's the exact reason why they're running into so many problems these days. The French have been gracious and kind enough to give so many people a chance to better their lives. And the vast majority of those immigrants and refugees have. They get jobs, they start businesses, and they try to become self-reliant, productive members of French society.

The problem is usually the children of these refugees and immigrants. Their parents came to France with little to their name, and thus had to work long and hard to make ends meet. The result of this is that those parents weren't able to properly discipline their kids. As such, many of these kids neglected their school work, dropped out of school without an education, and found themselves unable to perform any useful task in life. So they form gangs, and since they have nothing productive to do, they happy slap for shits and giggles.

These children are ruining the image and reputation of all immigrants and refugees. And that's unfortunate. Many of those people can and have contributed much to France and the French society. But all of the good they have done is being demolished day in and day out by their children.

Stupide. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256838)

> Apparently, they just passed a law making it illegal. I mean, didn't you read the article? ;)

Cette loi, c'est très stupide.

Would it be so hard to make the law so that anyone who was part of a planned assault an accessory to it, even if they didn't actually participate? That way, the act of filming or possessing such a film wouldn't be illegal, but happy slapping would be.

Re:Workaround (1, Flamebait)

SengirV (203400) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256294)

Get a state approved license.

So where are all the French loving leftist now?

Where are they? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256734)

They are in the same place they always have been: in your imagination, just like every other cliched political generalization used by politic-junkies who enjoy dividing people on every front they possibly can.

You think saying stupid shit like "So where are the X-Issue people now?" anectodally makes you appear right or smart. I think it just makes you look like you have nothing to add, and are a little too slow to realize that fact before you run your mouth.

Re:Workaround (2, Interesting)

linguae (763922) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256848)

Remember, the left-right spectrum is an economic spectrum, ranging from pure communism at the far left to pure capitalism at the far right, and everything in between. Not all leftists believe in civil liberties (look at Stalin, Mao, and Castro, for example). Respect of civil liberties are represented on a different scale.

Re:Workaround - legislate (1)

Ayal.Rosenthal (1070472) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256302)

Maybe the French will allow bloggers to qualify as journalists. Let me rephrase, hopefully France will allow bloggers to qualify as journalists. They can create a system based on posts, RSS feeds, etc., in order to determine qualification. - Ayal Rosenthal

Re:Workaround (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256748)

It is just lovely to watch France's slide into becoming a fascist state. What's next, you can't report a police beating unless you are a police officer?

In France, only journalists can film violence... (4, Funny)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256136)

And in Soviet Russia, only violence can film journalists!

Similar to good samaritan laws? (2, Insightful)

mjmalone (677326) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256162)

Sounds like their intent was to create something more like the Good Samaritan laws [wikipedia.org], when something went horribly wrong. Trying to get people to help citizens in need is one thing, but this goes a bit too far... I'm not too clear on the workings of the French government, does the Constitutional Council the last step in the process of becoming a law, or are there additional hurdles?

Re:Similar to good samaritan laws? (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256230)

So, you're trying to say French Lawmakers FINALLY got around to seeing the Seinfeld [wikipedia.org] finale?

Btw, I still can't tell if the title for this story is supposed to warrant "In Soviet Russia" jokes, or "In South Korea, only old people..." jokes.

Re:Similar to good samaritan laws? (1, Funny)

MayonakaHa (562348) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256256)

In South Korea, only violent old people film journalists!

Ok yeah that was bad

Re:Similar to good samaritan laws? (5, Funny)

David Gould (4938) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256826)

Btw, I still can't tell if the title for this story is supposed to warrant "In Soviet Russia" jokes, or "In South Korea, only old people..." jokes.
In South Korea, only old people make "In Soviet Russia" jokes.

Re:Similar to good samaritan laws? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256348)

If they wish to prevent unprovoked violent attacks, they should make it illigal to violently attack people in an unprovoked manner. I'm sure there is already a law against it.

Whether someone is filming it on their camera phone or not has nothing to do with it.

Re:Similar to good samaritan laws? (5, Informative)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256376)

The French Constitutional Council has a position similar to the U.S. Supreme Court, except it only rules to decide whether or not a law is constitutional (respects the French Constitution of the Vth Republic, Human Rights, etc).

Another difference with the U.S. Supreme Court is that it can actually be seized (by Members of Parliament) before a law is voted on by Parliament itself. For instance, if some people introduce a law saying Linux is illegal and should be banned, it is highly possible that the Constitutional Council would be seized by MPs sympathetic to Linux. It is therefore, considered as the guardian of the Constitution and of Human Rights.

On the other hand, it is sad to note that its evolution has also mimicked the recent evolution of the U.S. Supreme Court: President Jacques Chirac has packed the Constitutional Council with conservative (sometimes ultra-conservatives) judges, people who can be extremely authoritarian (by French standards -- they would be considered as dangerous lefties in the U.S.) and sympathetic to his positions. And these positions probably include a lot of censorship of the Internet.

So, IMHO, it's not a surprise this stupid law is now passed in France. The ultimate appeal, of course, would be for a French Citizen to bring his/her case to the European Court of Human Rights, which could overturn the Constitutional Council decision as well as any and all court decision on such a matter. But that would probably take years of hard legal work, with all legal fees you can imagine.

Yes, this is bad news. As a French citizen, I am personally ashamed the Constitutional Council has taken such a position, especially since, as you mentioned, "happy slapping" videos could already be prosecuted under French Law as not helping someone in danger (Good Samaritan Law?), or even as being an accomplice to assault and battery. In France, if you see something, you have to do something!

In short: stupid, stupid, stupid. And shameful, to boot.

what if you witness police brutality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256612)

are you still required to help the victim?

Re:what if you witness police brutality? (2, Interesting)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256712)

are you still required to help the victim?


IANAL, and I am certainly not a French Lawyer, but yes... I believe you could be prosecuted for not helping a victim of police violence...

On the other hand, given the circumstances, you could probably count on the leniency of the French Court... :-)

If I remember well, not helping another person when your own life and safety are in danger cannot be used as a cause for a prosecution. But I need to check that out. I honestly don't think that would be too much of a problem (but I may be wrong).

If that's any comfort to you, if you are a witness of police violence and try to intervene, you usually end up being a victim of police violence yourself. Same if you try to film said police violence.

Re:Similar to good samaritan laws? (1)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256978)

The ultimate appeal, of course, would be for a French Citizen to bring his/her case to the European Court of Human Rights

No. The ultimate appeal would be another French Revolution.

As for the rest of what you said, probably informative. IANAL. IANAF.

Proof (-1, Flamebait)

k_187 (61692) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256164)

That the US doesn't have a monopoly on stupidity in the world. They just have most of it.

Re:Proof (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256260)

That the US doesn't have a monopoly on stupidity in the world. They just have most of it.

Because the French are so much better.

Well, duh... (5, Funny)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256170)

How are you supposed to film something you're running away from?

It's a serious problem. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256822)

The so-called "happy slappers" are a serious problem in the UK and continental Europe. Perhaps you're not familiar with who they are, or what they do. Let me tell you. The vast majority of them are the children of immigrants and refugees who moved to Europe from countres in Africa, Central Asia, India and the Middle East. Of course, there are domestic "happy slappers", but they tend to be in the minority.

For a number of reasons (poor language skills, almost no work ethic, a lack of European cultural understanding, etc.), these youth gather in gangs, and proceed to slap random individuals while videoing them with their cell phone cameras. They tend to target rather helpless victims, including younger children, the elderly, and women. They usually don't severely injure their victims, but it is still assault nevertheless.

Now, as an American I found it to be quite difficult to understand when I first moved to Europe. If a bunch of little punks had tried that sort of bullshit back in Omaha, they'd have likely gotten the living hell beat out of them. But Europe's a different place. People don't dare to fight back against these youth, as they will assuredly be convicted of committing a "hate crime". Politicians won't directly address the problem because doing so may be seen as politically incorrect. It's really pretty sad.

movies and tv caught up in this too? (2, Interesting)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256174)

the French Constitutional Council has just made it illegal to film violence unless you are a professional journalist (or to distribute a video containing violence).

so where's the line between amateur videographer, and aspiring reality-tv cameraman? Or maybe we need a venn diagram with professional journalist in there somewhere too.

Re:movies and tv caught up in this too? (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256830)

Professionals get paid for their work. Now if YouTube sends you a check for a popular clip, maybe you would have a good argument for being a "pro". But I think that could work just as in the defense case of the hooligans they are trying to stop.

See no evil. Hear no Evil. (1, Insightful)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256180)

If you don't record violence, then it never happened.

Right?

Hey! NO CARRIER

Pfft... (1)

MorderVonAllem (931645) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256184)

And if you film something like that on accident or suppose the authorities don't have the proof they need or someone is getting prosecuted unjustly or, as in the case of king, was being beaten by the very people who should have been protecting him you're just supposed to sit on le evidence?

In France?! (0, Flamebait)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256188)

Wait a minute... Is not France, like, the only hope the humanity has to avoid the, caugh-caugh, Fascism of the "single-polar world", in which we all found ourselves after the USSR's (unfortunate, was not it?) collapse?

Trolling? Maybe, but only a little...

Re:In France?! (1)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256402)

Ha ha ha.

Except our Conservatives are just as stupid as your Republicans [and the French governement is a Conservative one at the moment].

Oh, wait, they don't start wars for oil. I guess that makes them a bit better than the U.S. Republicans. Just a bit.

Re:In France?! (2, Informative)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256672)

The last "war for oil" was a series of minor battles running as a side-show to the WWII. Even the oil-starved Germany did not set Russia's oil-rich Caucasus as its main target.

To call our Iraq war "war for oil" and then call someone else "stupid" is a good illustration to that kettle-pot proverb, if you know, what I mean. Oil is not worth fighting for — US could've gotten Iraq's oil (and cheaply) by siply lifting the embargo — as France (among others) were suggesting.

But let's not change the subject, shall we? While continuously painting the US as a gloomy monster goose-stepping towards Fascism, France herself has seen prolonged racial riots and such new limits to freedoms, over merely suggesting which Bush would've been carried out of the office by his guards. Ha ha.

Re:In France?! (1)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256766)

I see... A bit touchy on the subject of Republicans, are we? ;-)

Racial riots were extremely localized and not too dangerous or disruptive [unless you lived in the neighbourhood, that is]. And French people have got a strong tendency -- Bob bless them -- to blithely ignore stupid laws and legal decisions such as this one when it suits them.

Finally, the penalties for most of these laws are freely set by the judge. Which means you could go away scot-free if you have the luck of finding yourself in front of a leftist French Judge. May the Flying Spaghetti Monster have mercy of you if you happen to be in front of a Conservative Judge, though.

Re:In France?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256930)

And your liberals make marx and lenin look like right wing whackos, so we're even.

Re:In France?! (1)

Quantam (870027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256500)

France found something they can beat the US (and other countries) at: the race to fascism. Can't blame them for taking advantage :P

Making American Legislators Look Smart (0, Troll)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256194)

A charitable reading would be that the lawmakers stumbled into unintended consequences.
Are you sure this happened in France and not Poland?

Citizen journalist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256214)

My French friends, you can always sell your video catching violence to CNN as their "citizen journalists".

Or we can just set up a site, dedicated to violent video footages, register it with one of the Press organizations and we can declare anybody who submits to us our accredited journalist.

   

CCTV (1)

Phil246 (803464) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256224)

Wonder if they considered that this means all CCTV camera operators are breaking the law should violence be picked up on them unless they become journalists...

Re:CCTV (2, Informative)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256486)

Except CCTV operators in France are considered at best, member of the law-enforcement community, or, at worst, people who have received an authorization to operate the CCTV equipement. Just in case you don't understand what that means: they are allowed to film and act on what they could see on the CCTV monitors.

Besides, they are not allowed to sell CCTV tapes, or broadcast them on the Internet. They'll be prosecuted if they do. France has got some pretty strong privacy laws like that. Furthermore, the fact CCTV cameras are in operation, for example in a mall, must be clearly advertised at the entrance of the mall itself. So, CCTV operators are not considered journalist in any way, only as people who are providing some sort of security to the general public.

Inadmissible? (4, Interesting)

bigeeTea (1050470) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256232)

I wonder if this new law makes video of crimes inadmissible in court, if it was filmed by a non-journalist.

Re:Inadmissible? (4, Interesting)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256564)

This is an entirely different question. A video of a violent act that is broadcast over the Internet, by someone who witnessed a crime but did not act, would be considered as a "crime" (misdemeanor?) in France.

On the other hand, evidence from video cameras, whether operated by a professional journalist or not, are considred as admissible in a court of law. If I remember well (my Law School years are far behind me...), a video is not considered as a "full" proof, since the video could have been tampered or altered. On the other hand, a video is definitely admissible, as long as the person filming had no time to react or was not an accomplice in the violence.

The problem is, of course, that with this new decision, the Constitutional Council opens a way to prosecute people who witnessed police violence and/or abuses and then decide to broadcast/upload the video over the Internet, without going to a court or to the police first. This is clearly designed to stifle dissent and the flow of information over the Internet.

liberty (2, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256276)

France gave us the word "liberty," yet the french do not value freedom of speech nearly as much as Americans do. In fact, most of western europe denies its citizens free speech rights (especially when discussing things the government can subjectively determine to be "hateful" concepts).

The US government has made a lot of mistakes recently, but at least Americans can be proud that we are still protecting our most fundamental human right.

Re:liberty (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256336)

still protecting our most fundamental human right.

the right for large corporations to profit?

*ducks*

Re:liberty (2, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256392)

France gave us the word "liberty," yet the french do not value freedom of speech nearly as much as Americans do.

Wrong: they would value their freedom of speech very much if their governments hadn't taken it away long ago. If you want to see what I mean, go to France and say anything vaguely insulting about jews or arabs, and you'll quickly meet Bubba in the brig. (Note: I have nothing against jews or arabs, but I reckon it should be legal to say anything about them as long as it's not a call for racial violence).

French folks think they have freedom of speech but they don't. They did nothing to defend it and they lost it. The only difference with the US is, Americans still have the 1st, but that's not going to last for a lot longer, so enjoy it while you can. And don't kid yourself thinking you can fight to preserve it, the forces of apathy in the general public in the US make this fight lost in advance.

Re:liberty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256448)

but at least Americans can be proud that we are still protecting our most fundamental human right.

What right, the right to wholeheartedly support Bush's war on whatever is moving, lest members of the government label us treasonous and call for our execution (or at least to be kicked off the air [huffingtonpost.com])?

Re:liberty (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256516)

In fact, most of western europe denies its citizens free speech rights

Most? There are a few big ones like Germany and France, yes, but I very much doubt most. Do you actually have anything to back this claim up?

Americans can be proud that we are still protecting our most fundamental human right.

Aww, come off it. You have "free speech zones", you've classified some forms of speech as "munitions" subject to export regulation, your corporations have used the law to remove results from Google, to stop hacker magazines from publishing hyperlinks, you're dropping down the press freedom index, the White House censored the New York Times even when the CIA said that there was nothing classified in it... even Slashdot has been censored.

I really should make a list, whenever somebody like you posts a comment like that, I always miss loads out because I'm just listing things off the top of my head. There are many, many instances of freedom of speech being curtailed in the USA. If you think the USA has free speech, then you are (dare I say wilfully) wearing blinkers.

Re:liberty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256592)

I really should make a list, whenever somebody like you posts a comment like that, I always miss loads out because I'm just listing things off the top of my head.

Nah, I wouldn't bother. Sadly, as an A.C., no one pays any attention to you.

Or me, either, for that matter.

Re:liberty (4, Insightful)

Rimbo (139781) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256536)

You know, as my Chinese S.O. never fails to point out, the Chinese have just as much freedom of speech as we do! In China, you can say anything you want to.

It's freedom after speech that's not guaranteed...

Re:liberty (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256572)

If France doesn't value freedom of speech as much as America, then tell my why the Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index for 2006 rated America behind France in terms of freedom of the press?

America has fallen sharply as Bush has stayed in office, and ranks 53rd equal in the world for freedom of the press. France is currently 35th equal. There appears to be less censorship in France than in America for media reporting. Kinda the opposite of your statement, right? But don't let that get in the way of your blind jingoism.
Source: http://www.rsf.org/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=639 [rsf.org]

Re:liberty (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256596)

France gave us the word "liberty," yet the french do not value freedom of speech nearly as much as Americans do

True - the USA is in the zone as far as free speech goes.

I'm sure there's something about free speech zones on wikipedia by now for those that miss the admittedly poor joke and nibbling social comment.

fag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256756)

Unless of course you happen to call someone a faggot :).

Re:liberty (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256882)

The European anti-hate speech laws restrict your freedom of speech no more than the DCMA in the US. In Europe it's about protecting citizens from violence incited by hate-speech. In the US it is about protecting commercial interests.
Then there are very few convictions in europe I don't agree with.

If you say "kill all heretics in the US" you might be abducted to Guantanamo and will be left with no free speech, basicly no rights at all.
In Europe you would face a fair trail (or unfortunally letting be abducted by the CIA).

Tell us more about rights...

Re:liberty (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256952)

Yes, well. I'm German, and I tend to get into heated discussions with my peers about the need to have less restrictions on speech here in Europe, very much a minority position here. Their argument usually goes that speech can itself infringe on basic human rights of others, implying that hurting them - which some forms of speech certainly do - can also be extended to include psychological harm. Others argue that you can't deny historical facts - obviously this refers to holocaust denying, an extremely sensitive matter especially in my own country.

Personally, I don't buy either of those arguments, and I don't think giving even holocaust denying scum their free speech will cause much harm. But then again, this particular instance of banning speech doesn't cause a whole lot of harm either, the only reason I might be against is for the sake of principle, but I admit I can't muster a whole lot of energy for that.

And other instance, where I would muster more energy, well they are just not a problem. For one thing, we actually have large media outlets critical of local governments - unlike Russia, for one thing, or apparently the US. And you can still protest on issues you disapprove of, without being tasered five times or attacked with CS gas. Heck, you can even break the law doing so and be treated as a human being, typically getting away with a slap on the wrist because you were primarily excersising your right of free speech and of pointing out grievances.

So, in principle I agree with you and I do typically argue in line with you. In practice it's still all right. But I'm sure you think that's an impossible position to take.

I understand the reason for this but... (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256296)

If they really wanted to do this, it would make more sense to simply criminalize the recording or broadcasting of real violence (as opposed to possible dramatic acting) in the context of entertainment. Things which are genuinely educational, informative, or newsworthy are not always filmed by actual journalists, but often by people who just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Re:I understand the reason for this but... (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256430)

They don't need to do it at all.

Prosecute the attackers for aggravated (the filming being specified grounds) assault.
Prosecute those filming it as accessories to the assault.
Posession of camera gear in that context proves conspiracy, so nail all concerned as co-conspirators.

Re:I understand the reason for this but... (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256604)

How does possession of camera gear prove conspiracy? As I said, a person might just happen to be in the right place at the right time and have nothing more than an interest in telling people the truth, not promoting real-world violence as a form of entertainment.

s/this article or section/these comments/ (1)

zaliph (939896) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256354)

The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject.

Rodney King? Oh, I remember that... (-1, Flamebait)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256362)

Rodney King [townhall.com], caught speeding, probably high on PCP; resisted arrest, tried to attack a policeman, and had to be beaten into submission; and somehow people still mention this scumbag as an example of a victim of police brutality?!

Re:Rodney King? Oh, I remember that... (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256614)

The police are supposed to do their job properly no matter what the suspect is supposed to have done.

There goes sports. (3, Interesting)

Deathlizard (115856) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256388)

So under this definition, wouldn't filming the Zidane Headbutt in the World Cup be considered criminal to the cameraman that filmed it?

I guess sports cameramen better start practicing their journalism skills.

Re:There goes sports. (1)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256598)

Sports cameramen are considered as "journalists" in France. So they are exempt.

Someone who filmed Zidane's headbutt from the sidelines on a cell phone could be prosecuted, though.

Thank the intertubes! (1)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256404)

I can understand the desire to cut down on violence done for entertainment purposes, but, as suggested by the article and summary, this can have a dire negative consequence: someone who video tapes brutality, especially where police are involved, for the purpose of presenting it as evidence.

Perhaps if this would actually decrease the violence, it might not be so bad. Instead, those who do such "happy slapping" (wtf?) will find a way around it, by distributing CDs, or planning the fights and getting an audience, or such other things.

It's not going to take care of the root problem, just make it easier to cover up violence (again, especially when police are involved).

After all, there's nothing wrong if you don't see or know anything is wrong. Peacefulness by Ignorance. As bad as Security by Obscurity.

As an aside, we have (or at least used to have) a similar problem to "happy slapping" in America: bum fights. People, usually teens or college-aged males, take a video camera out to run down areas and get bums to fight in exchange for a hot meal or something, tape it, and stick it on the net. I know it was an issue about five or six years back, but I don't know if it's still a problem now.

Re:Thank the intertubes! (1)

aslate (675607) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256754)

"Happy Slapping" is a strange phenomenon come about in the era of the camera-phone. It involves a group of Chavs (crap) that attack an innocent bystander whilst on camera. Presumably started with a basic slap round the face (Similar to the "You've been Tango'd" adverts, but it's progressed to serious and violent crimes.

It's a nasty social thing that's developed recently, it was in the media months back in the UK. Not that it's something to expect to happen to you, it's become reasonably prevalent.

I can see why they'd have wanted such laws to come into effect to prevent "Happy Slapping" specifically, although it's probably one of those things that you just can't get right in legaleese.

And in other news.... (5, Funny)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256416)

A riot broke out around the French Academy of General Studies (acronym rarely used) as thousands tried and failed to register as licensed journalists. Amidst the fray the irony was as deep as the blood in the streets, as those who were involved were unsure whether they had yet obtained the rights to film the event. Furthermore, those who had successfully registered found it difficult to film themselves during the incident as they were overcome by the mob. Police had no idea who was legally allowed to film the event and, because they had to turn off their cameras due to not being journalists themselves, no solid proof of the perpetrators has survived.

TLF

Is there an EU constitution? (1)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256466)

Being an American, I plead ignorance regarding the EU constitution, but, A) Did it ever get ratified, and B) can this move possibly be legal under that document? If so, I'd say it's time to give it its first amendment (irony intended).

Re:Is there an EU constitution? (1)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256630)

I have posted this a bit earlier in the same discussion, but, yes, it would be possible to appeal this decision of the French Constitutional Council all the way to the European Court of Human Rights. This Court has the power to overturn all national decisions on matters of Human Rights, and free speech/free flow of information would definitely fall into its mandate.

Of course, it would take years of legal fight to reach the European Court. And legal fees are not exactly cheap in France...

Re:Is there an EU constitution? (1)

Bekro (1011753) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256654)

It failed to get ratified quite a while ago. Though some people are still very interested in resurrecting it.
Not that it would have mattered in this case, it was to cement the whole EU becoming the government of all Europe thing.
Ironically, the frenchies were one the main reasons it failed.

Re:Is there an EU constitution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256784)

The funny thing about the EU constitution is that it failed a French referendum because the French are all so paranoid about Turkey joining the EU. Based on some paranoia about 'all Muslims being backward'.

So, the French have lost the freedoms an EU constitution may have given them because they were/are paranoid about another nation being backward! Hah!

I know all this because my mother lives in France. The EU Constitution was a 'no' vote to Turkey, not the Constitution. In rural France this is particularly evident (my mother enjoys baiting the locals on the subject).

Rewording (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256480)

I wonder how this could be reworded to avoid including activities that would be considered unethical (bum wars, illegal street fights, etc)?

How about: Filming violence acts for the purpose of profit or the encouragement of said violent act.

Still doesn't deal with "tame" violence such as BSDM videos etc.

The being said, whether you're behind the camera or not I think there are probably existing laws that deal with these situations. I know most countries have laws against aiding and abetting illegal acts (including illegal fights, etc)

Re:Rewording (1)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256656)

There is no need to use this decision of the French Constitutional Council. As I have posted elsewhere, most of the videos you mention could already be prosecuted under French Law. For instance, bum wars could be considered as inciting violence and disorder or even as being accomplice to assault and battery.

It makes the decision in question that much more stupid.

Re:Rewording (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256750)

The being said, whether you're behind the camera or not I think there are probably existing laws that deal with these situations. I know most countries have laws against aiding and abetting illegal acts (including illegal fights, etc)

I, too, am pretty sure France has plenty of laws already to prosecute perpetrators of "happy slapping" (a term I'd never heard of until today). I suspect that the new law is the result of a legislative body hearing the cries of the public to "do something" about the problem. Since they are lawmakers, "doing something" means they make a law. Now it's not only illegal to beat up people and to aid the assailant, it's double-secret extra special illegal.

Intentionally broad? (5, Insightful)

DebateG (1001165) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256484)

Call me a cynic, but I suspect that politicians draft overly broad laws on purpose, in an effort to criminalize as much as possible. They can create so many complicated laws that it is impossible for most citizens to even be aware of what is and what is not legal. This later allows them to selectively apply the law for political ends. As Cardinal Richelieu said, "If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him."

News Headlines: Violence today in France, but... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256502)

Sorry. No film at 11.

"Happy slapping"? (1)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256622)

Give me a break. In the states, it's called "filming an assault." Why attach a cutesy-poo name to an otherwise illegal activity?

Unintended consequences (3, Interesting)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256732)

Guess they've just outlawed any surveillance camera that films violence, including their own. Oops!

Happy slapping is bound to get someone shot. (1)

bigtangringo (800328) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256742)

Somewhat off topic, but meh...

Someone attempting this "happy slapping" here is likely to get the perpetrator shot. I wouldn't say I live in a rough neighborhood, but I'm usually only outside at night, walking my dog. Suffice to say I think it's wise to carry my pistol when I'm out walking around 10:00pm.

Last night was the first time in the 5 months I've lived there that I've heard gunshots while out walking. Over the course of 15 minutes I heard 3 sets of *pop pop pop pop pop pop* around 10:30pm. Not that I'm terribly qualified, but I'd guess a .45 at about 2 miles away.

If two guys came running up to me at 10:00 at night I'd try to find somewhere defensible have my hand on or near my pistol. This would all be done, of course, as nonchalantly as possible; giving them the benefit of the doubt.

French Motto: Liberty,Equality,Fraternity,Silence (1, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256774)

Freedom, apparently, isn't in the mix, as in free speech.

I feel awful for them, but they probably feel awful for Americans, what with the incredible liberties that we've lost.

Someone noticed (5, Interesting)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256790)

There is a huge potential problem brewing. And almost nobody in the "online community" understands it.

Let's say there is an altercation between a cop and a young minority person. When the dust clears, said minority person is dead. Two hours later a video shows up on YouTube showing the cop beating the person with a large club. This is picked up, played on the nightly news. Everyone in the town sees it.

Cop is convicted because "everone knows" he did it.

The video is later shown to be an utter fabrication by two college students looking for fame.

Under today's law in the US, the college students can't be charged with anything. The video would never be admitted into court as evidence, but it would be fresh in the minds of all the jurors and couldn't possibly be excluded from their minds.

We have skated pretty close to some TV stations doing this kind of thing in the past, but most know better now. They don't accept just anything. Photoshopping pictures is being done, and some people are getting caught. In the US most news organizations are aware of the problem and are somewhat sensitive about it. It probably would take a case like this to really bring it home to the "profressionals", but we are already seeing a lot of amateur content making it out that cannot be verified and is subject to all kinds of fraud.

But "everyone" knows "seeing is believing" and so they are going to take anything that even looks real as the absolute truth.

Perhaps France is trying to slide away from this, just a little bit? We're ripe for some real juicy stuff in the US and until it happens there isn't going to be any restriction on so-called citizen journalists putting video out that purports to show crimnal activity. And it will be impossible to keep it away from a jury, leading to instant convictions.

IF nothing else (1)

hurfy (735314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256804)

That article(s) was educational. I haven't had to look up so many terms in 30 years. Nothing like a definition that uses another word you don't know ;) Oh well, i now know: chiv, ned, yob, and more.

Rodney King (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256918)

Bet the LAPD would have loved to have a law like this handy during the whole Rodney King incident!

Does this mean that horror movies are banned now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18256932)

Unless movie stores are now journalists.
Also, the entire motive behind this is because someone dared to expose something that was AGAINST THE LAW.
(I assume Police Brutality is against the law in france?)
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