Harry and Meghan believed the paparazzi in America would keep a lower profile compared to the United Kingdom. The opposite is true: The couple was chased through the streets of New York this week. Is that the only thing that happens?
“Ruthless”, is how Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle described their pursuit of New York. According to the taxi driver who drove the celebrity couple, it wasn’t too bad. A member of Harry and Meghan’s security team says there has been a “messy” situation. Bystanders were also at risk due to the careless driving style of the paparazzi.
In America, the press has more freedom. The right to freedom of the press is enshrined in the First Amendment to the US Constitution. This includes taking pictures in public.
Each US state has its own privacy protection laws. For example, New York, where the chase took place, has many laws in place that protect people’s privacy. That way, people can get punished if they intentionally stalk others.
Ontvang meldingen bij belangrijk nieuws over het Britse koningshuis
Other stars successfully went to court
Such laws may conflict with the right to freedom of the press. Because how do you decide if something falls under freedom of the press or if you’re breaking the law?
There are certain scenarios where you break a law. Think of pictures of children taken in toilets or under women’s skirts. These types of snapshots can result in penalties to the producer.
The most important rule: Do not compromise people’s safety while taking photos. If Harry and Meghan are to be believed, this is the case. So it cannot be ruled out that they will still go to court.
Many celebrities have successfully done it before. For example, George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston and Adele were proven right by a judge when they filed lawsuits over illegally taken photos.
The laws were changed after Diana’s death
The incident with the prince and the casesThe actress reminds many of what happened to Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, in 1997. During a car chase with photographers in Paris, the car carrying Diana, her boyfriend Toddy Fayed, their bodyguard and the driver crashed. Only the bodyguard survived.
The accident and death of the princess also affected the law. For example, the US state of California enacted an anti-paparazzi law. As a result, photographers were not allowed to enter the personal property of the stars. In 2005, paparazzi were not allowed to physically interact with the people they wanted to portray.
Harry and Meghan had just arrived from an awards ceremony in New York. There are many photographs in such an exhibition. So it’s no surprise that the paparazzi are snapping pictures of the stars leaving the party.
Of course, deliberately rushing people in hopes of getting a quick snapshot is another thing. Harry and Meghan are demanding the photos be handed over to the relevant photojournalism agency. They did not want images of the chase to be distributed, although some American media had already done so.
Photo Press has declined to do so for the time being. “Third parties cannot simply claim someone else’s property, as kings claim,” the agency said.
Harry en Meghan versus de pers
Een van de redenen dat Harry en Meghan zich terugtrokken uit het Britse koningshuis en verhuisden naar de Verenigde Staten is het indringende karakter van de Britse media. Hun naam stond op elke tabloidkrant en er werd vernietigend over het bekende koppel gesproken.
In de staat Californië, waar ze nu wonen, vinden ze niet de rust die ze hoopten te vinden. Zo begonnen Harry en Meghan in 2020 een rechtszaak omdat er een drone met camera boven hun huis vloog. De fotografen hoopten hiermee een glimp te vangen van het zoontje van het stel, Archie.
In Californië is dit verboden. Bovendien mogen er niet ongevraagd foto’s van minderjarigen worden genomen. Harry en Meghan hadden de zaak kunnen winnen, maar troffen een schikking met het betreffende fotopersbureau.
‘Make the news, but don’t become the news’
Either way, the more serious photo media in America seems to be pushing back against the behavior of their paparazzi colleagues. “News photographers should act like observers, documentaries,” says the executive director of the New York Press Photographers Association.
“In the case of Harry and Meghan, many controversial things have happened. Photographers should never put others at risk and adhere to the most important rule of journalism: don’t record the news and become the news yourself.”
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