YouTube footage lands fine for Madrid filmmakers
24 July 2008
MADRID – Posting videos on internet site YouTube for the whole world to see is free. But, as a group of irate residents of Madrid’s red light district recently found out, uploading amateur footage without the consent of the people depicted can end up costing dear.
In a landmark decision, the Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) has fined an association representing residents of Madrid’s Montera street EUR 601 for distributing 22 videos showing prostitutes and clients on the street.
In 20 of the videos, the faces of the people have been distorted to hide their identities, but in two others clients and prostitutes are clearly identifiable in what the AEPD has described as a serious violation of the Data Protection Law.
"The images were not obtained consensually and, in addition, they were distributed [on YouTube]," Artemi Rallo, the president of the AEPD, told reporters in a press conference on Tuesday.
The residents’ association posted the videos in October 2007 after one of its members set up a camera running round the clock on a balcony overlooking Montera street.
The aim, say association representatives, was to highlight the "sexual exploitation" of women that takes place on the street.
The videos are one of several pressure tactics the association has used to try to dissuade prostitution on Montera street, as they campaign for Madrid City Hall to clean up the area, which lies in the heart of the capital’s shopping district, a stone’s throw from the emblematic Puerta del Sol square.
"This is not an ideological issue… We want [prostitution] to be regulated for those women who want to do it, but most are exploited by mafia groups. Political will is needed to resolve this," one representative of the association said Tuesday.
He claimed that the AEPD was using the case against the association, which had not been triggered by any complaint, as a way to set a precedent in order to act against other people publishing similar videos on the internet. Under Spanish law, distributing images of people without their consent can carry a fine of up to EUR 300,000.
The AEPD said the fine against the association had been reduced to EUR 601 because it had attempted to hide the identity of the people in most of the videos and had not apparently sought to "harm the image of passersby".
[El Pais / Alvaro H. Rivero / Expatica]
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