Royal Children – Curbing the Paparazzi

By Keith Laker

The latest communication from Kensington Palace represents a heartfelt plea on behalf of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to respect the privacy of Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

In an open letter to the media released today, Communication Secretary Jason Knauf relates the extreme lengths to which one paparazzi photographer went to obtain images of the Royal Prince.   In a description more reminiscent of a spy thriller, he relates how the photographer  “… rented a car and parked in a discreet location outside a children’s play area.  Already concealed by darkened windows, he took the added step of hanging sheets inside the vehicle and created a hide stocked with food and drinks to get him through a full day of surveillance, waiting in hope to capture images of Prince George.   Police discovered him lying down in the boot of the vehicle attempting to shoot photos with a long lens through a small gap in his hide.”

Knauf goes on to write that “It is of course upsetting that such tactics … are being deployed to profit from the image of a two-year old boy” and observes that “…every parent would object to anyone – particularly strangers – taking photos of their children without their permission.   Every parent would understand their deep unease at only learning they had been followed and watched days later when photographs emerged.”

In concluding, Knauf requests “We hope a public discussion of these issues will help all publishers of unauthorised photos of children to understand the power they hold to starve this disturbing activity of funding. I would welcome constructive conversations with any publisher or editor on these topics.   And I would ask for your help as we work to encourage the highest standards on the protection of children in every corner of the media.”

Some will argue this is purely a privacy issue and should be dealt with according to the laws governing privacy, but perhaps it is time to consider more closely cause and effect. Knauf’s comment that “such tactics … are being deployed to profit from the image of a two-year old boy” touches upon the heart of the matter.   It is the appropriation of the image of Prince George for commercial gain that is of course driving the Paparazzi to such lengths, with the consequential intrusion of privacy. Remove the commercial incentive to take the photographs and the intrusion of privacy will lessen considerably.

The key to unlocking this perennial problem is to grant the subject of the photograph rights of equal standing with the copyright enjoyed by the photographer.   Icondia has long believed that the use of registered personality rights in such circumstances is a powerful aid to redressing this balance. We explained in 2014 why and how the Royal Family could benefit from this type of registration and our article just last week argued that registered personality rights could be effective against paparazzi harassment of celebrity children.

The solution to this type of excessive paparazzi intrusion already exists. The jurisdiction of Guernsey happens to have drafted this law first, but anyone may register and the protection afforded is potentially global in reach.

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© Icondia 2015