Photography in new demokraty(ies)

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by haris, Nov 25, 2006.

  1. haris

    haris Guest

    As you (maybe) know I live in Bosnia, which is country which get indenpendence when former Socialistic Federative Republic of Yougoslavia was gone. And first country west from Bosnia is Croatia, which have simmilar situation. These two countries ar now demokratic (yea, right) countries.

    Now what happened few days ago in Croatia:

    Photographer from one daily news papers in Croatian city Rijeka, made photographs of one judge passing by in front courthouse building in Rijeka. Photographer was on public ground. Judge saw photographs of her, and she sent police into newpapers redaction in order to seize photographs.

    As I can see, no difference between (new) demokraty and (old) comunism behaving...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 25, 2006
  2. George Papantoniou

    George Papantoniou Member

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    Don't worry Haris, this kind of thing happens in old "democraties" too, sometimes...
     
  3. Denis P.

    Denis P. Member

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    Yep, it's true - only the city was not Rijeka, but Zadar.

    It's the latest in the series of several photo-related scandals the past few months in Croatia:

    First there was a Dutch photojournalist severely beaten by onlookers last summer on a beach in Split - the zealots thought he's a pedophile - he was taking shots of a beach, which also happened to have kids running about (or whatever kids do on a beach...)

    Then, about month ago, the archives of the modern art gallery/museum in Zagreb were raided by the police, looking for a suspect "pedophile photographs"... Some zealot alerted them of a photo of a well-known and respected Croatian photographer (taken some 20 years ago) of a naked kid holding flowers (no private parts visible). The photograph has been on several international exhibitions and won numerous prizes in the past twenty years. The police also raided photographer's home and took all computers and his photo archives. They did not find the "incriminating" photo, since it's currently being exhibited on another international exhibition... :smile:

    And now this...

    And, to think that only last year I used to read about such things here and elsewhere, happening in the USA and UK, thinking how unbelievably stupid all that is, thinking it could not happen here....

    Luckily, the only kids I photograph are my own... usually fully clothed, in B&W, processed at home :smile:

    However, I think we'll have to start some kind of a public awareness campaign regarding this - it has gone too far...

    Denis
     
  4. André E.C.

    André E.C. Member

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    Even if I don`t agree with the things related, I would like to ask:

    In a democratic system, doesn`t also assist to any individual, the right to don`t want to be photographed?

    Cheers

    André
     
  5. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    I'm not a lawyer, but a photographer with a working understanding of this issue.

    If you are in a public place there is no legal expectation of privacy, and you can be photographed with or without your consent.

    Of course, the photographer cannot use the images to sell a product without your consent (commercial use), and cannot use the images to falsely portray you in a humiliating light.

    Even in the US there are restrictions on photography in and around courtrooms; not sure how far around the buildings any restrictions might be in effect. If so, I don't know the exact legal basis for such restrictions, so maybe someone here will chime in.
     
  6. kb244

    kb244 Member

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    Ahh but could we also be restricted the rights to remember someone else's face in our minds? In a world where there are eyes on everyone by government or security agencies, is most government wanting a monopoly on recorded information. Photographs like many thing is information, information obtained by the public is free and typically uncontrolled, most governments do not like information to which they cannot control. Its like with say a police-related beating, if it was never any record of it (photographs, videos)... did It ever really happen? And thats just from a photojournalist point of view, not even getting into those who capture more so as an expression of art.
     
  7. Denis P.

    Denis P. Member

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    Andre, there's a big difference between being photographed in "private space" and in public.
    Trying to get a photo of someone in private (on private land, in his/her own home, etc.) without permit/consent is something entirely different, and not the issue here.

    The issue here is increasing public paranoia towards anyone taking any kind of photo anywhere in public - as is the case with the judge in Zadar - the photographer was taking a stock shot of the courthouse FROM THE STREET for the newspaper's stock portfolio. The judge in question was in the frame while she was in a public place (in the street in front of the courthouse). She approached the photographer and asked him to show her his ID and credentials, which he refused (only the police have the right to demand anyone to present their ID, etc.). She went mad and issued a warrant for the police to bring the photographer in for questioning AND to ransack the newspaper headquarters... The editor in chief was also taken to police for questioning...

    Wouldn't you say that it was way over the top?

    Now, if it was in Russia fifty years ago, I would not be surprised...

    Denis
     
  8. haris

    haris Guest

    Thing is, we (who lived in non demokraties) thought demokraties are established and transparent systems. So, if it is allowed to take photo of someone in public place from public ground, photographer should not be worry of doing that act. It turned out that demokraty is not (transparent) system, that is one can never know does he or she doing allowed or not allowed thing. So, if it is allowed to make photographs in public places, one should not have problems. If it is not allowed to take photographs in private places, one should not do that othewise will have problems. We thought thing are clear and system works. It turned out it is not true. Well, communists, please return, everything is forgotten (written few years ago under monument of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in one former Eastern Germany town, after fall of communism).

    Regarding that Croatian art photographer, and problems he have these days:

    In my country (Bosnia) photographers are not worried they will have problems doing akt (nude) photography. Not because we are liberal country and educated in art, but because selfcensorship is so strong that everybody are afraid and nobody even trying to do that kind of photographs. And I am talking about photographs of adult models, I can't even imagine someone to try to make photographs of young(er) (under 18) models.
     
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  9. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    The birth of democracy can't happen overnight.

    Old values die hard. All you can do is make a stink about abuses and try to arouse public opinion to "shame" or force people to behave in a new and different manner.

    In the US there are abuses as well.


    Michael
     
  10. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    I live in Japan that has 61 years of being a liberated democratic country/nation, supposedly, but the fact is it is really not a good example of it, just to let you know. Japan used to be in the hands of some war manics in the military and the dorky emperor, but even after the liberation in 1945, nothing significant has really changed. The only difference is that we've got far more influences from the U.S. in every aspect of our lives now, and the Japanese government supports the U.S. power(Washington) more than ever. It's still an oppressive country/nation.

    We still do get simliar incidents(?) of what has happened in Croatia and/or Bosinia. There are two kinds of oppressive power here: One is the state with the interest of multi-national corporate businesses, and the other one is the Japanese mafia. The mafia part is much like the current threat issue on some journalists in Russia that if you go against the power you will really risk your life.

    For the general public, there's no justice to anything real because the Japanese court is very much in favor of those in power. They defend the government first, the corporations and the mafia heads the second, and the general population at last. The lawyers are useless because they are too snobby. The scholars and the activists are out there somewhere, but they don't have any effectve power over the mass to speak for justice.

    What is worse is that the media is not independently driven. The journalists don't practice journalism: Most of them never do that because they support and belong to their press club, which is a very infamous press conference system that they attend, sit, and listen to what the government spokesperson says. That feeds the 6 o'clock and 11 o'clock news on every channel on the same day and the headlines on the major newspapers the next day. So, we have no truths being talked about so openly.

    I can just go on and on to list the things that really are not democratic or really corrupt. What the libration back in 1945 did was to unrule the society, but it left so broken. And since then we haven't come anywhere near what our new and current constitutions, which are the U.S. copies, really represent. Most people don't understand the change because they have never seen anything outside of their society and their culture to even compared to. They can learn and start building and creating something more truthful, but it doesn't seem like that's their option.
     
  11. Allen Friday

    Allen Friday Member

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    The post takes the tenor that there is one idea of democracy that is shared world wide, and that all the rights of an individual in one democracy should be available to all others living in democracies. Mikesheb, above, did a pretty good job of outlining the current law in the United States. But, knowing the rules here, does not mean that those same rules apply everywhere. The law in the US has evolved over the last 200 years.

    The idea that photographers can take any picture they as long as they are in public has to be balanced with the rights of others to not have their image used for purposes they don't want. This has been resolved, for now, with the idea of commercial use and artistic use. But, the balancing that has been reached in the US may not be the way other countries resolve the issue. Privacy, and the right to not be photographed, is stronger in Western Europe. It will be interesting to see how the EU resolves the issue.

    When I travel, I try to become acquainted with the local laws and customs before I get there. Ever tried to use a tripod in Paris? I don't scream and shout that I could use one in the US. I accept that the rules are different and try to follow them.

    The situation described in the original post sounds extreme. But it would have to be evaluated in the context of the development of that society. It sounds like the fundamental balancing of different rights is still being resolved.
     
  12. arigram

    arigram Member

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    In the end is all about power, a metaphorical arm wrestle, which we call Justice/Laws/etc: the one with more power (economic, social, political, charisma, luck, etc) wins.
    A journalist and a photographer are usually at the lower end of the food chain, until gets some power (of the above parenthesis).
     
  13. Markok765

    Markok765 Member

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    Haris, Ovo nije puno lijepo:
    Ja sam zivio u Bih
     
  14. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    In Japan, a lot underage stuff (glamourous bikini and semi-nude photos of young teens as young as 11 or 12) goes around in the media, and some of them are not illegal, but very close to being illegal. They are soft porn that you can see in public.

    The next thing you know is we have so many pedophiles all over the country, and what we see is that some or many teenage girls sell their bodies for cash in sex hotels and etc to older males. Also, some sexually-obsessed men molest (young) women in the train cars during the busy hours, etc. We have so many crimes that many people think they know the cause so well, but nothing has changed.

    I mean this is not an old tradition: This is a new tradition of prostitution. We have a legalized prostitution, but that doesn't mean it's okay for the media to encourage that, too on the minor/underage population. It's very sickening.

    And no authority here bans such activities. We have a high number of sex-trade victims and undocumented temporary visitors working in many prostitution houses, but the police don't go out and bust the ciriminals. That is because of the mafia: The mafia has always had a strong tie with some of the high-ranking government officials, and so on. Maybe you can identify them in one group, you know what I mean?

    But until they get removed from the power, there's no room for a real change.
     
  15. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    Police brutality happens here in Japan, too just like the U.S. I've only lived in these two countries, so I can't speak about other places.

    But what's really nasty about the Japanese police is that during any protest, they team up with the militant right-wing radicals and beat up the lefties. The police don't stop any violence from the right-wing party unless it's real murder, and I believe it's still part of the old MacArthurism.
     
  16. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    Ah democracy! I remember that...
     
  17. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Although the act presented IS an abuse. It is an individual abuse of power. With the police providing the muscle.
    Democracy is just so much lip service in many instances. Who hasn't heard of the local sheriff/mayor/etc. who runs his county as he wishes? In Iraq it's the militias.
    The bully from grammar school has grown up and not changed at all. Oops, he's better armed.
     
  18. nc5p

    nc5p Member

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    Just because something is legal, doesn't mean the authorities will LET you do it. Before any patriotic types jump on me, please understand that 90% of police in the US are locally controlled, they do not work for GWB but answer to a mayor. Police here often tell people something is illegal when it isn't. That something has sometimes been photography. Argue with them and they pull out the tasers. I'm just saying that laws mean absolutely nothing when authorities have higher values, those usually being money and power. This is true all over the world.