Image Ethics: The Moral Rights of Subjects in Photographs, Film, and Television

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Larry Gross, John Stuart Katz, Jay Ruby
Oxford University Press, Feb 28, 1991 - Social Science - 401 pages
This pathbreaking collection of thirteen original essays examines the moral rights of the subjects of documentary film, photography, and television. Image makers--photographers and filmmakers--are coming under increasing criticism for presenting images of people that are considered intrusive and embarrassing to the subject. Portraying subjects in a "false light," appropriating their images, and failing to secure "informed consent" are all practices that intensify the debate between advocates of the right to privacy and the public's right to know. Discussing these questions from a variety of perspectives, the authors here explore such issues as informed consent, the "right" of individuals and minority groups to be represented fairly and accurately, the right of individuals to profit from their own image, and the peculiar moral obligations of minorities who image themselves and the producers of autobiographical documentaries. The book includes a series of provocative case studies on: the documentaries of Frederick Wiseman, particularly Titicut Follies; British documentaries of the 1930s; the libel suit of General Westmoreland against CBS News; the film Witness and its portrayal of the Amish; the film The Gods Must be Crazy and its portrayal of the San people of southern Africa; and the treatment of Arabs and gays on television. The first book to explore the moral issues peculiar to the production of visual images, Image Ethics will interest a wide range of general readers and students and specialists in film and television production, photography, communications, media, and the social sciences.

From inside the book


A Moral Pause
2 The Tradition of the Victim in Griersonian Documentary
The Case of Titicut Follies
4 Access and Consent in Public Photography
5 Ethics and Professionalism in Documentary Filmmaking
6 Ethics and the Perception of Ethics in Autobiographical Film
7 Images as Property
8 A Study in Multiple Forms of Bias
9 The Ethics of Misrepresentation
10 Perspectives on the Television Arab
11 Hollywood Markets the Amish
The Gods Must Be Crazy
Minority SelfImaging Oppositional Film Practice and the Question of Image Ethics
Selected Annotated Bibliography
List of Contributors

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Page 53 - The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential. This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion...
Page 52 - No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
Page 53 - This latter element requires that before the acceptance of an affirmative decision by the experimental subject there should be made known to him the nature, duration, and purpose of the experiment; the method and means by which it is to be conducted; all inconveniences and hazards reasonable to be expected; and the effects upon his health or person which may possibly come from his participation in the experiment.
Page 30 - The subtlest and most pervasive of all influences are those which create and maintain the repertory of stereotypes. We are told about the world before we see it. We imagine most things before we experience them. And those preconceptions, unless education has made us acutely aware, govern deeply the whole process of perception.
Page 339 - to be let alone." Without any attempt to exact definition, these four torts may be described as follows : 1. Intrusion upon the plaintiff's seclusion or solitude, or into his private affairs. 2. Public disclosure of embarrassing private facts about the plaintiff. 3. Publicity which places the plaintiff in a false light in the public eye. 4. Appropriation, for the defendant's advantage, of the plaintiff's name or likeness.
Page 8 - The law of privacy comprises four distinct kinds of invasion of four different interests of the plaintiff, which are tied together by the common name, but otherwise have almost nothing in common except that each represents an interference with the right of the plaintiff, in the phrase coined by Judge Cooley,
Page 141 - L ed 247) it is difficult to understand why the peculiar cast of one's features is not also one's property, and why its pecuniary value, if it has one, does not belong to its owner, rather than to the person seeking to make an unauthorized...
Page 189 - Some of her answers might excite popular prejudice, but if there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought — not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.
Page 39 - Mr Grierson may like to talk about social education, surpliced in self-importance and social benignity. Other people may like hearing him. But even if it sounds like a sermon, a sales talk is still a sales talk.1 Some tough American comments from a Mr Edward H.
Page 140 - I think that this young woman has the same property in the right to be protected against the use of her face for the Flour Company's commercial purposes, as she would have, if they were publishing her literary compositions.

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