Representative Roger Bruce Will Introduce LegislationTo Protect Against Exploitation of Headshots for Profit
Atlanta, GA – December 7, 2012 – Representative Roger Bruce has recently caught the attention of national media with talks on introducing legislation in 2013 to protect individuals who have headshots for police records, commonly known as “mugshots.”
These headshots are visible to the public on the sheriff’s county website and there are no guidelines on the usage of the headshots. This allows third-parties to post the headshots on a personal website and request a fee to have photograph removed.
The proposal will make it illegal to ask for money to remove the headshot from the website. It will also require the sheriff’s department to copyright all mug shots posted on their website. Including a copyright on the mug shot will remove the incentive to exploit “mugshots” for a profit. Lastly, Representative Bruce hopes this will provide victims a legal platform to rightfully have their headshots removed and sue for any damages caused by the improper use of their photo.
“When someone is arrested, your political party is not a concern. This is not about Democrats or Republicans. This is a non-partisan issue, and anyone can be victimized in this situation,” said Rep. Roger Bruce. “No one deserves to be subjected to this kind of scrutiny and abuse for money when they have not been convicted of a crime. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.”
Rep. Roger Bruce filmed a segment with ABC explaining the importance of this proposal. His segment will air on Tuesday December 11, 2012 on World News with Diane Sawyer at 6:30PM and Nightline at 11:30PM.
Atlanta DUI defense lawyer Michael Hawkins is interested in following the proposed legislation, but wonders how viable the bill will be when the General Assembly meets in January. “It is a problem, no doubt.” Hawkins said. “These websites and magazines that publish mugshots are taking advantage of citizens in a manner that our founding fathers could never have foreseen.” Hawkins referenced the historical value of public humiliation – consider the stocks a convicted person would be placed in on the town square. “The difference here is twofold – first, the internet means it will be there forever. Second, these photos are being published based merely upon a person being accused of a crime, not being convicted.”
It is unclear whether copyrighting photographs that are taken in the context of performing a governmental public duty (identifying arrestees) will actually deter for-profit use of book-in photos. It is a routine part of every arrest, whether it is felony involving violent crime or a misdemeanor such as driving under the influence (DUI). CHeck the DUI News Blog for updates on this story and the legislation in Georgia.