Tag Archives: freedom of press

A Day Without News?

Raising Awareness To The Growing Number Of Journalists Killed & Injured In Armed Conflict Zones

Imagine a day without news; imagine not knowing what’s happening around the world. Conflicts taking place uncovered; perpetrators’ acts of violence going unchecked or the civilian casualties not given a voice.

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Journalists, be they writers or photographers, have always put their lives at risk by going to cover wars; to tell the stories and share the pictures. Over recent years, journalists have become legitimate targets in the minds of combatants and in some cases are actively targeted.

Recent years have seen the deaths of far too many amazing people; dedicated to the truth and upholding humanity by covering acts of inhumanity. 2012 was the deadliest year for journalism with a 33% increase in deaths, resulting in 90 colleagues losing their life.

On April 20, 2011, photojournalist Tim Hetherington was killed whilst working in Misrata, Libya, covering the events of the bloody conflict. British photojournalist and filmmaker Tim Hetherington photographed on the last day of 'Operation Rock Avalanche' on October 25, 2007 at the Korengal Valley, East Afghanistan. Photo: Balazs Gardi

On April 20, 2011, photojournalist Tim Hetherington was killed whilst working in Misrata, Libya, covering the events of the bloody conflict. British photojournalist and filmmaker Tim Hetherington photographed on the last day of ‘Operation Rock Avalanche’ on October 25, 2007 at the Korengal Valley, East Afghanistan. Photo: Balazs Gardi

On April 20, 2011, photojournalist Chris Hondros was killed whilst working in Misrata, Libya, covering the events of the bloody conflict.

On April 20, 2011, photojournalist Chris Hondros was killed whilst working in Misrata, Libya, covering the events of the bloody conflict.

February 22, 2012, legendary correspondent Marie Colvin was killed in Homs, Syria. Evidence from eye witnesses, including London Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy who was working with Marie, said that they had been deliberately targeted.

February 22, 2012, legendary correspondent Marie Colvin was killed in Homs, Syria. Evidence from eye witnesses, including London Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy who was working with Marie, said that they had been deliberately targeted.

February 22, 2012, photojournalist Remi Ochlik was killed in Homs, Syria. Evidence from eye witnesses, including London Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy who was working with Marie, said that they had been deliberately targeted.

February 22, 2012, photojournalist Remi Ochlik was killed in Homs, Syria. Evidence from eye witnesses, including London Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy who was working with Marie, said that they had been deliberately targeted.


I’m supporting the work of colleagues in spreading the word and campaigning world leaders to bring attention to these injustices and develop laws to try and safeguard journalism; visit the website, A DAY WITHOUT NEWS and do the same. Lastly, please spread the word using your social media.

The French Privacy Law

One Suggestion At The Leveson Inquiry

Stunned by the way the Leveson Inquiry turned on photographers, (after having set out to be about journalistic ethics and phone tapping), I was even more horrified when a suggestion was made to introduce French ‘style’ privacy laws in the UK.

The French Privacy law and it’s effects really needs to be studied. It has turned a most cultured people into a nation of court going suers. The land which brought to the world amazingly talented photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau has made it impossible for their modern day counterparts to work.

This could be a picture of a French actor and his female co-star at a movie premiere from their last movie. However as the current story is about their new romance, we can't publish this picture, as it is considered an illustration.

We were fortunate to have Nigel Dickinson join the NUJ London Photographers’ Branch to give a talk on the French privacy law and the difficulties faced by him and his colleagues in France:


Based on a talk given to NUJ London Photographers’ Branch
by Nigel Dickinson, February 2012

Article 10 of the European Convention affirms that there are human rights for the freedom of expression and public rights to receive information. But in FRANCE this right is not absolute and has to be conciliated with certain individual rights.

Laws about shooting and publishing photos and video

Before taking a photo of someone you are required by law to ask the individual’s permission. If you want to publish it in anyway you have to ask their permission for each specific usage. Any object that is created by or is the copyright of an artist, or designer must have permissions to be published in specific contexts. Any owner of property can assert rights of ownership of property, again the photographer needs permissions to publish, regardless of whether the image was shot from a public or private space.

This could be a beautiful shot of the Eiffel Tower at night, with it's beautiful lighting. However, without consent from the lighting designer, we could not publish the picture.

It is advisable in France to always get a signed written permission by individuals, owners of property and creators of original works, whatever the situation whether in a public or private space.

Individuals can use two different French laws to defend their rights against publication of their image:

The right of your own image (Droit d’image)

In France each individual has the exclusive right to their image and of who uses their image. Not only publishing the image but even taking the photo of someone, the photographer has to have the individuals permission under French Law. The fact that the person accepts to be photographed doesn’t mean that they accept to have their image published. A minor aged between 12 to 14 years old can be considered responsible enough to decide whether he/she gives the right to use his image.

Circumstances where the public right of information might be stronger than the individual’s right of one’s image

When someone places himself or herself is in a public place then there is already a measure of tacit consent already presumed but this is reflected in each individual case. Normally the person only has a right of complaint if he/she is a principal subject in the photo.

If someone is in a photo but not an essential element – or when the person is not recognizable – or is an accessory by chance – say in an image of a public monument, or statue, then it is generally considered that consent is not necessary, even though people have taken photographers or publishers to court over this. The same goes when the person is part of a crowd. But again each case is taken on its own merits, as to what is considered a crowd or an accessory or not.

But in all circumstances the persons dignity must be respected.

Normally public figures, when going about their public life, such as politicians, sports stars, singers etc are not required to give their consent in such situations because the right of information supercedes their right to their own image, but this only for journalistic news purposes only not commercial ones, nor for illustration (the same image which was once a news image could be considered later on as an illustration, or when taken out of its news context).

Images of public figures must not violate the Privacy law. In other words the images must only deal with the individuals public life and role and not refer to anything which is about the individual’s private life.

In other words there mustn’t be anything which invades the private life of this person even though he/she is a public figure.

And an image which was part of a news event, with a public figure at one time, may be considered less relevant later on, in which case what was once a perfectly unusable news image – can be deemed unusable later. It is not newsworthy therefore becomes an illustration – and the photographer or publisher can be prosecuted for its publication.

This could be a beautiful landscape image in France; however, under the French privacy laws, without consent of the owner of the little cottage in the image, we cannot publish this image. Do note though that if the owner at the time the photograph was taken gave consent, then sold the cottage, you would need the current owner's permission too!

Taking the picture itself will not necessarily be by itself against the law unless someone’s private life is affected or private property is invaded as a result.

In certain instances legal judgments have considered certain types of publications in exhibits and books not to require authorization:

When the research is considered artistic, cultural or sociological.

Set up pictures (studio or mis-en-scene)

In France in this situation: Anyone professional or not is considered as a model., The photographer cannot pay the model direct, the client must pay, on a salaried basis according to French law. In the case of a model working for an agency, the photographer must check the agency possess the relevant agreements. The client can be held responsible against problems with the agency.

An image needs a model release, everything has to be licenced – there are very strict rules in France. One needs an official French State licence and financial guarantee. Foreign agencies cannot place models in French soil.

If a photographer wants to put such images into a photo-library there could be 2 problems:

Authorisation and remuneration

1. Authorization might be considered too general (to put into a photo-library without a defined use) One needs explicit destination made clearly in the text contract.

2.Remuneration – a contract has to be made between the photographer and model saying not only how the image will eventually be used but what is the exact percentage of the financial remuneration.

La Loi Vie Privée (Law against making the Private Public)

The privacy law is applied when treating the personal characteristics of an individual. This concerns people themselves, not objects, unless the person is obviously or reasonably easily identified by those objects. The law doesn’t apply to a family album or a sporting event, but does when such images are used in public – press or internet etc – because they are shown to an unlimited public – therefore it is not in a private use anymore. However one can send by e-mail to the family or put images into a secured passworded website limited only to the family etc.

Application of this law is less strong when the person is part of a large group and not specifically targeted as the main person of the photo. But every image is judged on its individual merits. There is no absolute law.

Permission and consent has to be freely given by the individual and specifically for a certain use. In law it doesn’t have to be written but it has to be without doubt – so for our purposes it is almost impossible to prove without a written release. One would even need permissions for use in a school photograph, sporting event etc.

It is recommended that the model release signed by the individual should also give people information about what are their rights, that they have a choice whether to sign or not, and information about the appropriate laws.

This could be a wonderful street photograph, one that even Henri Cartier-Bresson would be proud, but it cannot be published under French privacy law, unless every one in the image signed a consent form.


It is good to get the parent’s consent but a minor aged around 12-14 who is intelligent and discerning can have the right to give permission legally for use of his/her image.

Some personal characteristics are very strictly monitored under this law and considered very personal and sensitive issues – race, sexual orientation, health, political opinions.


Everything is seen in its context, for example; the skin color of someone is not in itself a private item, but if a photo of someone is used to identify of class someone by the color of their skin then this could go against the privacy law; also if from an image of someone one can deduce that person’s state of health, this is different to using an image, purposely to show someone’s state of health.

So it is both the context, the use and the purpose of the photographic/video image which is important; but again, everything is judged on its individual merits and it depends a lot of the judge, the place. One judgement maybe different to another on the same photo. It can also be a matter of chance, who judges it.

Privacy laws confer certain rights to individuals

• Right to be informed about how images will or can be used.

• Subjects right to ask questions, to be informed, by what right the person has to take a picture – the photographer has to answer this.

• Subject has right to access information, at any stage they want, and get information by telephone, written etc.

• A person photographed has the right of opposition at any time, when they have a serious reason for doing so, for editorial usage.

• A person don’t need a reason to oppose its use, if the image is used for direct marketing, commercial or publicity.

This could be a picture of a demonstration on the streets of Paris. However, because the photographer couldn't get a consent form filled in by everyone recognisable in the shot, the photographer could get sued. Although unlikely that the photographer would lose, legal representation and a court case would still be needed.

Specifically in respect for Journalism – in news (not illustration)

Exceptions to privacy are when it can be proven without doubt that the treatment of sensitive information, health or past legal history is for press, artistic expression or literature. And only when any or all of these aspects of an individual have a direct rapport with their public character or news events; then they can be brought into the public domain.

In such cases the person does not have the same rights to information or access to rights of privacy as set out above.

This forms part of the ‘democratic’ rights of journalists to perform their duties as ‘watch dog’ in a democratic society.

But journalists must not abuse this privilege. Whilst a journalist or accredited magazine might have rights to perform these duties, a school journal may not be afforded the same rights, so it becomes defamation – it is all about context, purpose and end result.

Property laws (2004 onwards)

Whilst an owner of a property or object doesn’t have exclusive rights over the use of the image of that object, they always have the right to oppose the use of the image of that object or property by a third party WHEN the use of the image causes an abnormal problem to them.

The French laws are fixed on this point. And this refers to images shot from a public space.

When an image is shot inside a private space, permission must always be granted, and a model release for persons and property must be arranged.

Rights of creation

Any sculptor, architect, artist has authors rights. Rights to the image of his/her creation. In certain instances the theory of the object as an accessory can take place in public or in private, but the author must always be mentioned by name.

One has to be extremely vigilant about the restrictions brought by the authors, examples of the recent “Le Corbusier judgement” where his inheritors have made it illegal for any photo/video image of Le Corbusier’s designs to be reproduced. Also for instance the Eiffel tower which one can photograph freely during the day but only certain circumstances at night; one is not allowed to photograph at night whilst the lighting display is in operation, as the lighting display itself is considered a copyrighted artistic work in its own right. Exceptions like this are numerous across France.

One has to research the specific rights in each object before publishing the image.

The photographer has to get written permission from the author, or his/her inheritors for up to 70 years after the author’s death.

For photographing in all Private places one always needs permission.

Text © Nigel Dickinson 2012

Illustrations © Edmond Terakopian

Sources, information and translations include amongst others:

The UPP France

L’Observatoire de l’image


There will be an audio recording of the talk available on the NUJ London Photographers’ Branch.

Police Bullying Victim

15 Year Old Photographer

Jules Mattsson

Surely you remember the previous story about Romford Police who continually made up laws to try and stop Jules Mattsson, 15, from photographing cadets and Police at the Armed Forces Parade. I’m glad to report that Jules has allowed me to publish his portrait. I think it’s extremely important to put a face to the story. Here is the youngster Police harassed; why? Purely because he was taking pictures.

On Saturday 26 June, photojournalist Jules Mattsson (pictured), who is 15 years old, was photographing the Armed Forces Day parade in Romford. He was questioned and detained by a police officer after taking a photo of young cadets. He was bullied by several officers who continuously made up laws to try and make him stop and at one stage pushed him down some stairs. June 29, 2010. © Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Initial reports reported Jules as 16, but he is in fact 15.

Congratulations to Romford Police

Police Bully 15 Year Old Photographer With Fake Laws

No doubt you’ve all seen and heard the audio recordings of 15 year old photographer Jules Mattsson being harassed by the Police. What was the young photographer doing? He was photographing Police Cadets (probably older than him) at the Armed Forces Day Parade; a day during which we are supposed to support the brave men and women of the armed forces. As a photojournalist in the making, Jules decided to photograph the event. The Police decided that this was illegal and continued to make up laws to stop the young photographer working and as a result publicising the event. Please have a listen to the the recording which Jules had the foresight to make during his ordeal:

Tonight I was invited to speak at the NUJ London Photographers’ Branch. During my talk, as I looked through the crowd, I saw a young face. Someone who didn’t belong as he was far too young; I’d even go as far as saying almost child like – it was Jules Mattson. I was already upset by what I had heard but to see who Jules is, absolutely made me disgusted in the behaviour of the Police officers involved in bullying him. They should all be ashamed and I for one hope they will be disciplined for their cowardice. I have several friends in various Police forces around the country and I absolutely respect the job that is done; any officer who has come in contact with me will vouch for this. However, this bullying of a 16 year old boy is absolutely disgraceful.

I took a photograph of Jules today; he asked me not to publish it as he does not want the Police to target him. What a sad state of affairs; I do hope the officers in question read this.

Further Reading

Young photojournalist detained for army cadet pics (BJP)

Officers claim they don’t need law to stop photographer taking pictures (The Independent)

Read Police officers talking about the incident on the Police Specials forum; makes very interesting reading.