In Elane Photography LLC v. Vanessa Willock, the New Mexico Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that a wedding photographer is obliged under the state’s anti-discrimination law to offer its services to two women seeking to record their commitment ceremony, despite its proprietors’ religious objections to the ceremony. The Court was not persuaded by an amicus brief filed by UCLA lawprof Eugene Volokh on behalf of the Cato Institute arguing that the First Amendment protects persons in expressive occupations such as photography from being obliged to create expressive works they don’t want to create. Commentary: Dale Carpenter, Ken at Popehat, Hans Bader, John Fund, Ilya Shapiro/Cato at Liberty, Stephen Richer.
At Utah’s Deseret News, reporter Eric Schulzke writes on how “the U.S. Bill of Rights remains a work in progress 222 years after it became law — a continuing struggle between government claims for order and security, and the individual’s interest in clarity and freedom. This past year, the struggle played out in numerous areas, including free speech and search and seizure rules, to touch just a few.” He quotes me on the hope of bright-line rules establishing the public’s right to take pictures of law enforcement (recent Hawthorne, Calif. cause celebre here), on the need to focus on state and local police use of DNA databases before the inevitable abuses establish themselves, and on how four significant Fourth Amendment cases made it to the Supreme Court this year: “‘Here we are 200 years later, and a lot of big, interesting questions still haven’t been settled on what the Bill of Rights says about search and seizures,’ Olson said.” A sidebar reviews the year in civil liberties controversies.
“Even though I was always on public property when I filmed the horrors I saw outside that slaughterhouse in February, I became the first person charged under one of these ‘ag-gag’ laws.” [Amy Meyer, Washington Post, Utah]
That’s how a lawyer explains his $2 million damage demand on behalf of a Georgia student whose bikini-clad image was used by a school administrator in a presentation about how the Internet is forever, image-wise. [Chris Matyszczyk, CNet] The classic line about how if you want to send a message, use Western Union, will probably need to be retired given the news that the world’s last telegram is due to be sent in India next month. [Christian Science Monitor]
“Hawaii needs to rethink the ‘Steven Tyler Act.’ States can promote the right of privacy while ensuring freedom of speech.” [Josh Blackman/Ilya Shapiro, USA Today]
ABC takes very seriously a complaint filed by a photographic model that Swedish automaker Volvo improperly degraded her image by allowing play-on-words copy into a promotion. She had signed broadly worded releases. [Good Morning America]
An Arizona lawmaker has proposed (how many regrettable stories begin with that lead-in!) a crackdown on looks-enhancement in advertising. “House Bill 2793, proposed by Rep. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix, would require advertisers who alter or enhance a photo to put a disclaimer on that ad alerting customers that ‘Postproduction techniques were made to alter the appearance in this advertisement. When using this product, similar results may not be achieved.’” [Arizona Republic via Coyote, earlier (and compare)]
The French courts have ruled that it is a violation of intellectual property rights to disseminate photographs of armchairs and sofas designed by famed modernist Le Corbusier (Charles-Edouart Jeanneret). Per Getty Images in an email to creative contributors, “while you may hold a copyright in a particular image or clip, if it contains even a fraction of a Le Corbusier piece then you may not have all the necessary rights under French law to provide that content and therefore may be liable for copyright infringement under French law in respect of the furniture featured.” Getty has told its contributors that they may not feature in licensed content objects by some other designers as well, including the furniture of Mies van der Rohe. What about images of his buildings? [British Journal of Photography]
…better get ready for the YouTube takedown demands — or for efforts to obtain the identity of you as the poster [Popehat]
A Los Angeles couple have been gaining publicity for their proposal to require publications to disclose with warning labels when pictures of models have been Photoshopped, the better to help the bodily self-esteem of readers who may feel inadequate when contemplating the skinny/curvaceous images or airbrushed complexions. [CBS New York] “After complaints from Liberal Democrat MP Joe Swinson, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority banned two digitally enhanced ads starring prominent celebrities for ‘exaggeration and being misleading.’” [Diana Denza, Betty Confidential; earlier on parallel developments in France as well as Britain]
Incidentally, I’ve now compiled a long-overdue tag for posts on photography.
The police chief of Long Beach, Calif. defends as consistent with department policy the detention of photographers who snap such shots. [Romenesko]
Lawmakers in at least three states have proposed new laws criminalizing the taking of photos on farms without permission of the owner — and sometimes going much further than that, too. The idea is to stop animal-welfare activists from compiling unauthorized footage of allegedly inhumane conditions. I comment on that — and on some related photography and farm issues — at Cato at Liberty.
A Florida bill would criminalize that. [Lowering the Bar, Volokh]