Photoshopping a Crime?

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GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116
Photoshopping a Crime?

Should photoshopping a picture of someone without their permission be illegal or is it protected under the First Amendment?

A Georgia state lawmaker with an unconventional grasp of the First Amendment is backing a bill that would make lewd photoshopping a crime punishable by a $1,000 fine.

Rep. Earnest Smith pointed, as proof of the problem, to a picture of his head that was recently edited onto a pornstar?s body. That image was created by a blogger who used the image to mock Smith.

The Augusta-based legislator said he was not worried the bill would step on First Amendment rights.

?Everyone has a right to privacy,? he told FoxNews.com. ?No one has a right to make fun of anyone. It?s not a First Amendment right.?

The lawmaker did not provide any specifics of the legislation when contacted by FoxNews.com. After being pressed to provide details, he said, ?At this juncture, I am not at liberty to share anything with you. I don?t have to. If and when this bill passes we can revisit the issue and if I choose to give you details at that time I will, but until then I don?t have to tell you anything.?

Smith first introduced his proposal a year ago. According to the bill?s summary, it would make it a misdemeanor offense to alter a photograph that ?causes an unknowing person wrongfully to be identified as the person in an obscene depiction.? Smith introduced the legislation last year after a teenage girl was subjected to ?online attacks.?

However, after a picture of his head photoshopped on the body of a naked man stretched out on some rocks started circling the Internet, Smith renewed his efforts.

When asked if he thought his bill would target parodies -- which are protected by the First Amendment -- he said it didn?t matter.

?They (parody creators) live for something like this,? Smith said. ?They are vulgar. This is about being vulgar. We?re becoming a nation of vulgar people.?

Not everyone shares Smith?s sentiments.

?He?s the conductor of his own crazy train,? one lawmaker told FoxNews.com.

Georgia Politics Unfiltered blogger Andre Walker said he?s behind the photoshopped pictures of Smith.

?I did exactly what Rep. Smith wants to make illegal,? Walker, who has referred to Smith?s bill as ?asinine,? wrote on his blog. ?I pasted a picture of Smith?s head onto the body of a male porn star.?

?The first Amendment to the Constitution of the United States protects all forms of speech, not just spoken word,? Walker said. ?It attempts to regulate speech and I doubt it would stand up in a court of law.?

The blogger added, ?I cannot believe Rep. Earnest Smith thinks I?m insulting him by putting his head on the body of a well-built porn star.?

Read more: Georgia pol wants to make lewd photoshopping a crime after being mocked in porn star pic | Fox News

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

The first Amendment to the Constitution of the United States protects all forms of speech, not just spoken word, Walker said. It attempts to regulate speech and I doubt it would stand up in a court of law.

Um, no it doesn't.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

It doesn't protect all forms of speech so he is wrong there but it does protect against satire and parody. I don't think he stands a chance. This is a protected form of speech although I'm assuming his picture must look kind of stupid.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

"Jessica80" wrote:

It doesn't protect all forms of speech so he is wrong there but it does protect against satire and parody. I don't think he stands a chance. This is a protected form of speech although I'm assuming his picture must look kind of stupid.

I agree with you, but I think he's really pushing th line between parody and defamation.

fuchsiasky's picture
Joined: 11/16/07
Posts: 955

"?Everyone has a right to privacy,? he told FoxNews.com. ?No one has a right to make fun of anyone. It?s not a First Amendment right.?"

If the First Amendment protects the rights of people who say hateful things, why would it not protect the rights of people who want to make fun of each other? You can't outlaw satire just like you can't outlaw the KKK. That is freedom of speech.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

There are two different things going on here:

1. Photoshopping a person's head onto someone else's body where it is realistic and conceivable that others would think the body belonged to the head and thus causes them harm.

2. Photoshopping a person't head onto a body that crosses into vulgarity.

Yes, the 1st amendment protects parody and satire but I don't see how a vulgar image is either parady or satire. Generally speaking, the community sets the standard for obsenity/vulgarity.

It is were *my* face photoshopped onto a vulgar picture, yeah, I would sue. As to it being a crime? It depends - if it is used for things like cyber bullying, then yeah.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6568

I agree with Ethanwinfield. There is a point where your rights end when they are hurting someone else. For example if the KKK were to go up to a person and say all kinds of mean things in a threatening way, yes they would have the freedom of speech to say it, but they could also be arrested for harassment. If a magazine were to publish something about someone that they knew to not be true, yes they have freedom of speech, but they could be sued for defamation of character. I would think this would be the same. If you were to put someone's face on a photoshopped picture of a naked or almost naked person, then I would assume that person would be able to sue for defamation of character, harassment, or other similar offensives.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

But SC has upheld "vulgar" images before. If it is something that is clearly understood to not be that person, like in this case, then a case like this would find for the "artist".

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

dp

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

"Jessica80" wrote:

But SC has upheld "vulgar" images before. If it is something that is clearly understood to not be that person, like in this case, then a case like this would find for the "artist".

Actually it's the opposite. The Miller test applies. If the community considers it obscene, it's not protected. I can't see how pasting someone else's face on to a pronographic image offers any redeeming qualities especially since the person has not given consent.

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

Seems like it would already be illegal.. I doubt said person took both photographs Wink

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

"ethanwinfield" wrote:

Actually it's the opposite. The Miller test applies. If the community considers it obscene, it's not protected. I can't see how pasting someone else's face on to a pronographic image offers any redeeming qualities especially since the person has not given consent.

That's true but if the magazine, or in this case blog, has posted similar pics it would be expected to see that there...no?'

Not quite the same thing but this is a case that I found that illustrates points I was trying to make:
Parody & satire | First Amendment Center

First article of Hustler VS. Jerry Falwell. That type of picture IS vulgar but expected in Hustler.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

"Jessica80" wrote:

That's true but if the magazine, or in this case blog, has posted similar pics it would be expected to see that there...no?'

Not quite the same thing but this is a case that I found that illustrates points I was trying to make:
Parody & satire | First Amendment Center

First article of Hustler VS. Jerry Falwell. That type of picture IS vulgar but expected in Hustler.

Georgia Unfiltered | Telling the Truth

It doesn't seem like this is a forum where you would expect to see those pictures.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

Agreed but I think it is a separate argument about vulgarity and the expectation of seeing those pictures on the page and if it is against the First Amendment for him to photoshop these pictures.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

I'm unsure where I stand about the photoshopping issue. On a side note though, did anyone else find this quote both hilarious and disturbing?

The lawmaker did not provide any specifics of the legislation when contacted by FoxNews.com. After being pressed to provide details, he said, ?At this juncture, I am not at liberty to share anything with you. I don?t have to. If and when this bill passes we can revisit the issue and if I choose to give you details at that time I will, but until then I don?t have to tell you anything.?

I'm not going to tell you anything about this law that I'm trying to pass, and you can't make me....even if it passes, I still may not tell you the specifics unless I want to......whaaaaaaa?

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I'm unsure where I stand about the photoshopping issue. On a side note though, did anyone else find this quote both hilarious and disturbing?

I'm not going to tell you anything about this law that I'm trying to pass, and you can't make me....even if it passes, I still may not tell you the specifics unless I want to......whaaaaaaa?

Wow that sounds like Pelosi on ObamaCare. You have to pass it to find out whats in it.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

I wasn't trying to make it into some sort of partisan....thing. I just thought it was funny.