France Outlaws Filming Real-World Violence

Unless you are a “professional journalist”:

PARIS, France (AP) — A new law in France makes it a crime — punishable by up to five years in prison — for anyone who is not a professional journalist to film real-world violence and distribute the images on the Internet.

Critics call it a clumsy, near-totalitarian effort by authorities to battle “happy slapping” — the youth fad of filming violent acts — which most often they have provoked themselves — and spreading the images on the Web or between mobile phones.

The measure, tucked deep into a vast anti-crime law that took effect Wednesday, took media advocates by surprise with what they say is an undesirable side effect: trampling on freedom of expression.