Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

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Saturday, June 4, 2005

Federal Judge Hears Arguments Over AP's Publication of SEAL Photos

U. S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller (U.S.D.C., Southern District of California) heard arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit charging that the AP violated both intellectual property and privacy rights by publishing photos AP reporter Seth Hetterna says were found on an Internet website, Smugmug.com. The photos seem to be of Iraqi prisoners and civilians perhaps being humiliated, terrorized, or treated inhumanely. After the AP obtained the photos, the Navy began an investigation. The AP claims that the photos were newsworthy. The SEALS and their families claim that the AP violated copyright and invaded the privacy of those service personnel depicted in the pictures.

A visit to www.smugmug.com reveals that files can be password protected. At the time that the AP reporter found the pictures, they were not, and the reporter purchased copies for 29 cents apiece. According to Hettena's article, someone has now taken down the pictures.

The lawsuit tracks a state suit proceeding through the California courts. Read reporter Hettena's original story here.  Read more about the case here.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/media_law_prof_blog/2005/06/federal_judge_h.html

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