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France bans citizens from reporting violence

Call it the first citizen journalism ban. France has approved a law that makes it illegal for people who are not professional journalists to videotape or stream video of violent acts. There are so many things wrong with this, but it’s best summed up by a coincidence: the law was approved on the 16th anniversary of LAPD officers beating Rodney King, which was captured on amateur video.

Adds Clément in comments: “As a French student in law and faithful LR reader, I had to comment. I just went and read the actual text of this law, and honestly saying that ‘France bans citizens from reporting violence’ is an absolutely wrong interpretation. What the law says is that the person who knowingly films a violent crime being commited in order to broadcast commits an act of complicity of the crime. There are 2 exceptions in this law: if the person who films exerces a profession whose object is to inform the public (there is no strict definition of a journalist, bloggers could be included), and if the recording is done in order to serve as evidence in justice (the Rodney King video would certainly qualify). What is left is cases where the act of violence is actually done in order to be filmed and broadcast – the ‘happy slapping’ phenomenon. In this case the person who films and therefore encourages the violence is indeed complicit.”

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