Sep 212012
 

Kate and William greeted by topless islanders

The effort to block the spread of nude photos of William and Kate’s vacation in France is doomed to fail, and frankly, the significance of nudity all depends on its context as the Duchess so easily saw on the remaining days of their tour. The topless photos of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, continue to spread with their publication by a gossip magazine in Denmark, Se och Hoer, following on the heels of their sister magazine in Sweden.

Legal Action

In France, the magazine Closer was fined and ordered to hand over all copies of the photos:

A French court ordered a magazine publisher to hand over all digital copies of topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge within 24 hours and blocked furtherpublication of what it called a “brutal display” of William and Kate’s private moments.

Under the ruling Tuesday, the publisher of the French gossip magazine Closer faces a daily fine of €10,000 ($13,100) if it fails to hand over the photos featured in Friday’s “world exclusive” issue of Prince William’s wife Kate. The photos were taken without authorization during the royals’ vacation at a private residence in southern France.

The court also handed out an injunction to stop Closer France from republishing the offending pictures — including on its website and its tablet app — as well as re-selling them.

A statement Tuesday from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said they “welcome the judge’s ruling.” Maud Sobel, a lawyer for the royal couple, described it as “a wonderful decision.”

“We’ve been vindicated,” Sobel said.

Calling that “vindication” is a hollow victory.

Even if the Royal Family wants to continue legal action, it’s becoming impossible. First, there’s the obstacle of national borders – which the Internet simply ignores and courts simply have to abide by – and the laws in each country. In Italy, paparazzi can take photos as long as they’re standing on public property. The nude photos of Kate were taken from almost a half mile away(!) with a telephoto lens (nice lens, essential hardware for any paparazzi) , but the photographer wasn’t on the property of the chateau. And anyways, an injunction by a French court is not enforceable in other countries.

All Copies?

Secondly, no one knows the source of the photos in the Danish magazine. Possibly they were sent prior to the injunction. Perhaps after. Handing over “all copies” is near impossible unless everyone who had the digital copies cleaned out their computers along with the Sent box of their email accounts and the Temporary directory in their operating system.

And how would you enforce this? Send someone in to go through everyone’s computer at Closer? And how would that keep someone from passing it on through a USB key or similar portable storage?

Give me a break.

There are no originals photos here. As Walter Benjamin would appreciate, the image you view on your screen is already a copy. Everything is viral-like even at the most basic level of our operating systems.

UK Press Left Out Again

We’ve been here before. The Mirror notes that:

It is worth noting that the pictures remain unpublished by the UK press. As with the pictures of Prince Harry , where The Mirror and most other papers did not publish, William and Kate’s privacy is being respected.

Here in the UK, self-restraint is working more effectively than supposedly strong European privacy laws.

Restraint is more effective than privacy laws in the digital era, but the images are easily accessible online and the UK press is heading toward the same situation it was in with the Prince Harry images – they’ll be available everywhere but in the UK, driving more readers to pass on the papers and grab their “news” (such as this is) from online.

But in a way, the position of the UK press is admirable, even if there’s a bit of not wanting to anger the Royal Family or run up against UK regulations. If almost everything “public” (even at a half mile) can be recorded, it can be distributed and restraint becomes the last remaining drawbridge in the castle of privacy.

Chill Out

Calming down and letting it go may be the best advice. Trust me, the news cycle will soon move on to something else. Maybe even something with more substance and consequence for us all – such as Syria or a downward spiraling EU economy.

Tom Sykes in the Royalist on the Daily Beast has best comment on this entire affair:

In his editorial, editor Signorini argues that “instead of getting angry with the media, who are just exercising their right to report, the royal family should, in my humble opinion, run with the ball and react with typical Anglo-Saxon humour, saying ‘So what?’”.

The Royalist agrees.

Anything else is a waste of time in a deeply interconnected digital world.

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