A new state law aimed at preventing organizations from charging for the removal of arrest booking photos from a website or a publication goes into effect Tuesday, July 1.
The current version is a far cry from the original bill, HB 845, written by Rep. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough). In fact, what started out as a bill that, if passed, would have prevented legitimate media organizations as well as the general public from getting copies of any mugshots for any purpose eventually turned into a fairly reasonable piece of legislation.
However annoying it may be, you now have to file a sworn affidavit that no charge will be imposed for the removal of the mugshot from a website or a publication. The Georgia Press Association has made it easy enough for lazy journalists like myself, though, and has provided a document you can use to get what you need, so long as your i’s are dotted and your t’s are crossed.
There are some caveats to the law: Nothing can ever truly be removed from the internet. For example, once a newspaper publishes a mugshot or an article on its website, it’s almost immediately picked up by any number of other sites. If an arrestee eventually has his or her charges dropped and calls the newspaper to ask them to take down the offending photo, though, the newspaper is only responsible for what’s on its own site.
I’m not sure about the legal implications of a mugshot site using a scraper to pull legally-obtained photos from a site like OnlineAthens.com, which has access to local law enforcement’s mugshot database, and ultimately charging for the removal anyway. Sure, the individual in the photo can ask the newspaper to take it off their website, and the newspaper will gladly comply with that request, but if a site like mugshots.com scrapes the photos from OnlineAthens, can mugshots.com be held responsible for the misuse of those photos?
– Kelsey Cochran, TPOG Project Manager