Should Indy Student Photographer Have Legal Protection?

A student unaffiliated with any campus or professional media outlet is arguing that the photos he took of a crime scene last April cannot be confiscated by police.  Why?  According to a report in the San Jose Mercury News, he says he was a freelance journalist while taking the photos.

Hmmmm.  It is an interesting dilemma.  Are you a journalist the minute you pop out a camera and start taking shots?  If that’s the case, in this boundary blurring era, can’t EVERYONE basically claim the rights of a journalist, blogger, or news media maven of some kind?  It’s a question of ethics, certainly, and one speaking to larger media and cultural norms.  Now it will be one for the courts to decide.

My two cents: No dice.  We need *some* level of separation between citizen and journalist, at least as recognized by law.  If the guy had done some journalism work, had published photos somewhere on a freelance basis, or even had a regular blog that went beyond ‘what I ate for dinner last night’ type entries, then maybe *maybe* there’s some credence to the claim.  Otherwise, it just comes across like a blind grab at a legal loophole, one that hopefully the California courts will clean up.

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