Some good news for Hungary’s photojournalists

Remember all the news about Hungary’s new civil code back in March? I was even asked about it by the Guardian as then Editor-in-Chief for Photography of Hungary’s leading online newspaper. And I said the new civil code doesn’t change much, it just codifies what was already practice in the courts, but was a wasted opportunity to set things right, such as the very absurd practice that policemen on duty and acting on behalf of the state enjoy the same privacy protection as John Doe walking down the street, even when securing demonstrations. We would have needed to get permission from each and every policeman on the picture to publish their photo.  Today, a ruling by the Constitutional Court finally set that part right.

The excerpt of the ruling (in Hungarian) says – in general – that as long as photos are taken in a public space, do not represent the individual in question in a defamatory way, and are part of a news report on an events of public interest, the permission of the people depicted on the photos are not necessary to take and/or publish the pictures. It goes on to specifically state how this applies to policemen and how policemen performing their duties on a demonstration always constitute an event of public interest.

We can finally get on with our work and not worry about getting sued for infringement on privacy if we forget to blur out a policeman’s face in the background on a photo of a demonstration (yes, this is what papers and photographers were actually getting sued for).