A new law in France could put amateur videographers in serious trouble.
The rule would allow only professional journalists to film or broadcast violent acts, according to news reports. People who publish images could face up to five years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros, which in some cases would be a harsher sentence than the one for committing the violent act.
The law is intended to combat the phenomenon known as "happy slapping," in which teenagers film one another randomly slapping a stranger and post the video online. It's in sharp contrast to the philosophy of Cop Watch L.A., a group in the U.S. that urges citizens to post on the Web videos that show alleged police brutality.
The new French rule is intended to apply to accomplices in violent acts, and does have some exemptions, but civil liberties groups and bloggers complained that it goes too far, and will restrict freedom of speech.
Blog community response:
"I can see the reasoning behind the law and I certainly don't want the Internet to be the medium of choice for snuff films and other violent acts. But it's still a disconcerting law."
"However, it still seems silly to prevent such things, when all they really do is help identify those who are acting violently, making it easier for authorities to track them down."
"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."