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France to ban "Happy Slap" Videos

Old 03-08-07, 11:32 AM
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France to ban "Happy Slap" Videos

http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/europe....ap/index.html

PARIS, France (AP) -- A new law in France makes it a crime -- punishable by up to five years in prison -- for anyone who is not a professional journalist to film real-world violence and distribute the images on the Internet.

Critics call it a clumsy, near-totalitarian effort by authorities to battle "happy slapping" -- the youth fad of filming violent acts -- which most often they have provoked themselves -- and spreading the images on the Web or between mobile phones.

The measure, tucked deep into a vast anti-crime law that took effect Wednesday, took media advocates by surprise with what they say is an undesirable side effect: trampling on freedom of expression.


Experts said the law is the first of its kind in Europe. France made headlines years ago by ordering U.S.-based online company Yahoo to pay a fine of about $15 million for displaying Nazi memorabilia for sale -- in violation of French law.

The new provision takes on "happy slapping," a phenomenon whose name belies the gravity of the attacks. It mostly involves youths, and the victims often are strangers.

Violators of the law, passed in parliament in February, will be subject to up to five years in prison and 75,000 in fines ($98,600). It was championed by Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who is a top contender in France's presidential election in April and May.

The law was published in the government's Official Journal on Wednesday, bringing it into effect, after the Constitutional Council gave its final approval over the weekend.

Ligue Odebi, an association that seeks to protect freedom of expression on the Internet, said the measure will also hinder citizens' abilities to expose police brutality.

"This makes France the Western country that most infringes on freedom of expression and information -- particularly on the Internet," the group said in a statement on its Web site, www.odebi.org

"Identifying uploaders (of such images) would require the creation of a totalitarian surveillance of the Net," the group said.

Ligue Odebi noted that the council's approval Saturday fell on the 16th anniversary of the March 3, 1991, beating of motorist Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers in a scene captured on amateur video -- a case that sparked a national outcry in the United States.

The French law says that anyone who "knowingly" films illegal acts of violence and distributes the images can be considered an accomplice -- but that professional journalists are exempt.

French authorities have been seeking new ways to combat youth violence after a wave of rioting, car burnings and violence mostly in poor neighborhoods on the fringe of Paris and other cities in 2005.

Media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said it understood the government's need to crack down on "happy slapping," but feared the law draws a "dangerous" distinction that would punish "regular citizens" for doing what journalists are allowed to do.

"The sections of this law supposedly dealing with 'happy slapping' in fact have a much broader scope," Reporters Without Borders said in a statement. "Posting videos online showing violence against people could now be banned, even if it were the police carrying out the violence."

The measure has implications for online video sites like YouTube, or France's Dailymotion.com: Authorities could ask them to identify the sources of images made available through their sites.


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I don't know, I think the French have a long way to go before they catch up to the totalitarian state the Bush administration has set up. This sounds like the "Slippery Slope" we've been warned about!
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Old 03-08-07, 11:33 AM
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I thought this thread was going to be about the French banning slapping people with a glove when challenging them to a duel.

oh well......
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Old 03-08-07, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Nazgul

I don't know, I think the French have a long way to go before they catch up to the totalitarian state the Bush administration has set up. This sounds like the "Slippery Slope" we've been warned about!
It not legal in France to record acts of violence and post it if you are not a professional journalist. What has the Bush Administration done that is on par with that?
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Old 03-08-07, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
It not legal in France to record acts of violence and post it if you are not a professional journalist. What has the Bush Administration done that is on par with that?
That whole habeus corpus thing was pretty bad.
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Old 03-08-07, 11:55 AM
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Why would they do this to address the problem with these videos? Why not simply prosecute the people making the videos for assault?
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Old 03-08-07, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
That whole habeus corpus thing was pretty bad.
Especially if you are a non citizen terrorist.
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Old 03-08-07, 12:37 PM
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Good grief! For a second I thought they had outlawed my favorite slapstick erotica series.

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Old 03-08-07, 01:05 PM
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Is it still legal for non-journalists to videotape surrenders?
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Old 03-08-07, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
It not legal in France to record acts of violence and post it if you are not a professional journalist. What has the Bush Administration done that is on par with that?
Nothing. Everything they have done is far far worse.
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Old 03-08-07, 07:56 PM
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Like?

Maybe I am just blinded by my non-hatred of Bush, but this type of thing could never fly here, and yet there are people saying this is nothing compared to what Bush has done?
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Old 03-09-07, 02:19 AM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
Like?

Maybe I am just blinded by my non-hatred of Bush, but this type of thing could never fly here, and yet there are people saying this is nothing compared to what Bush has done?
Well, fining people that criticize Bush.
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