Media, Bookstores and Photographers Claim Arizona Law Banning Publishing Nude Photos of People without Their Consent Goes Too Far

Friday, September 26, 2014

A collection of bookstore owners and media representatives are suing Arizona officials, saying the state’s new law that attempts to prevent pornographers from using people’s nude photos without their permission is too broadly worded.


The plaintiffs, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, are fighting a law they claim will infringe on their lawful media and publishing efforts. Those suing Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne and all the state’s county attorneys include Antigone Books and the Association of American Publishers, which represents booksellers that sell non-fiction books containing images such as those from the Abu Ghraib torture scandal or art photography books of naked models.


In the cases of nude model photos, some of the plaintiffs say the models “may have specifically consented to being photographed by the photographers, but not specifically to being distributed by said booksellers,” leaving them potentially liable, according to Sarah Jeong at Forbes.


“This law puts us at risk for prosecution,” Gayle Shanks, owner of plaintiff Changing Hands Bookstore, said in a statement, according to Courthouse News Service. “There are books on my shelves right now that might be illegal to sell under this law. How am I supposed to know whether the subjects of these photos gave their permission?”


Other examples cited in the suit of images covered by the law include a history professor showing the iconic “Napalm Girl” photo from the Vietnam War and a library in which patrons can access photos of nude subjects on the internet.


The law, which targets so-called “revenge porn,” makes it a felony to distribute nude photos of someone without his or her consent. Violators face up to three years and nine months in prison.


“It is unlawful to intentionally disclose, display, distribute, publish, advertise or offer a photograph, videotape, film or digital recording of another person in a state of nudity or engaged in specific sexual activities if the person knows or should have known that the depicted person has not consented to the disclosure,” the statute reads.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Is Arizona's Revenge Porn Law Overbroad? (by Sarah Jeong, Forbes)

Bookstores, Publishers Fight Nude Photo Ban (by Jamie Ross, Courthouse News Service)

Antigone Books v. Tom Horne (U.S. District Court, Arizona) (pdf)


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