from the no-takebacks dept
The aspect of the whole "right to be forgotten" business that's been occurring in Europe that most interests me isn't the legal wranglings or the plethora of unforeseen consequences that will inevitably rear its ugly head. Rather, I'm chiefly interested in the mentality that wanting such legislation suggests. That mentality appears to essentially amount to a request that chosen-actions that might end up being embarrassing should be subject to the whims of he or she that might be embarrassed. While this strikes me as immensely silly, it's not difficult to understand that the unprecedentedly long memory of the internet, as well as its inherent function as an easily-searched index, has made the consequences for embarrassing actions occur on a longer timeline than ever before. Pushing back against that change in the action-response scenario was probably inevitable, even if it's still wrong.
But it isn't just the internet that creates these kinds of scenarios. Digital photography presents a similar problem, with embarrassing images easily stored in perpetuity on hard drives and free from the wear and tear that old developed photos had to endure. And that's how we end up with a German court ruling that ex-lovers who had consented to being photographed nude and/or engaged in sexual activity must be deleted once the relationship ends.
The man, an unnamed photographer, had taken explicit photographs of his partner and made erotic videos with her throughout their relationship. The court heard the woman had consented to all of the material being taken and, in some cases, had taken the photographs herself. When their relationship ended, the woman insisted that all of the images and videos she appeared in be deleted.Let's wade around the legal weeds of German rights for a moment and break this down in laymen's terms. The court has ruled that actions previously agreed to are subject to the wants of that actor once a romantic relationship ends simply because they might embarrass said actor. One might have sympathy with the woman in this specific case, who didn't want her ex-lover to retain nude photos or videos of her in suggestive situations with him. But negating the responsibility for decisions made is going to open up a whole can of worms the court has no business involving itself in. In this case, they ruled that photos of the woman fully-clothed weren't subject to deletion, because they wouldn't "compromise" her. Great, except now define "fully-clothed", explain why the woman's feelings that her in a low-cut t-shirt isn't fully clothed, what ability the court has demonstrated to be a good arbiter of other people's feelings of being compromised, etc.
The court agreed that any privately recorded nude pictures and footage which she appeared in should be deleted or withdrawn on the grounds of personal rights, which are considered higher than the ownership rights of the photographer, the Local has reported.
The point is that when the courts get involved in attempting to protect people from their own feelings, it's going to go wrong. Each and every time. Because the court shouldn't be in this kind of subjective debate. On top of that, alleviating citizens from the consequences of actions they consented to isn't the court's business either. Yes, it's possible that the man may use the photos in questionable ways, but let the court deal with those offenses rather than the vague possibility of an offense. This court instead said the ex had to delete the photos that are his to possess, simply because. Have fun with the resulting caseload, Germany.