Updated: Check out added quotes from First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza.
Sexy ESPN reporter Erin Andrews was videotaped several times through a peephole in her hotel room, which captured her walking around naked, applying make-up and fixing her hair.
The person who shot the videos is apparently trying to shop them around to the highest bidder, but surprisingly has received no bites.
Not even from celebrity gossip site TMZ, even though they are notorious for posting celebrities in their most embarrassing and revealing moments.
However, while most of the paparazzi pictures they post are taken of celebrities in public venues or in public view in their backyards – if a 600 mm camera lens is considered public view – the Erin Andrews video was shot when the sports reporter was behind closed doors.
In other words, the woman named “America’s Sexiest Sportscaster” two years in a row by Playboy Magazine had a complete expectation of privacy.
So whomever shot the video is guilty of a crime.
However, now some lawyer is claiming that it is illegal to download the video or view it if you happen to come across it.
CBS News Legal Analyst Lisa Bloom states that viewing or downloading the video is equivalent to “buying or selling stolen property.”
I’m not too sure about that one; the buying and selling of stolen property involves the exchange of money.
According to Photography is Not a Crime’s legal analyst Marc Randazza (yes, I have a few, so take that, CBS), Bloom is talking out of her ass.
“That CBS analyst needs more legal education and less melodrama,” the Florida First Amendment attorney said in an email responding to my question.
He also added that although it is completely legal to download and view the video, he didn’t have much respect for anybody who would.
“Anyone who does download it is kind of an asshole,” he said. “She did have an expectation of privacy. We live in a society where the sleazes and the lowest common denominator individuals seem to thrive. If we dried up their mud flats, they would die off.
“What I mean by that is that downloading the video is legal. but doing so is a douchebag move. I certainly won’t be downloading it (although I personally would love to see her naked too).”
It appears that Bloom is acting on feminist fervor rather than legal logic. She not only is the daughter of feminist attorney Gloria Allred, she is also the attorney who sued the Boy Scouts of America when they did not allow a girl to join the organization. She lost that case.
At least one video has been available online since February after it was posted on a French website. But it didn’t get much exposure until Andrews’ legal team and ESPN had them remove the video and sent out a press release stating they were seeking the person responsible for the video.
TMZ apparently was approached because they say they reviewed a total of six videos but declined to purchase them. I guess they’ll be subpoenad if Andrews’ legal team doesn’t find the perpetrator. And that could bring up an interesting legal battle as well.
TMZ believes the person that filmed the videos was probably associated with ESPN or some other entity in which he or she would be traveling with Andrews’ group and be familiar with her schedule. They say the videos appear to have been filmed through a hole in the wall from an adjoining room.
While a cursory search through Google (for purely research purposes only) provided no video, there are plenty of fake sites out there that promise the video but only end up delivering a computer virus instead.
So it appears that Andrews’ legal team has done a good job of curtailing the video online. At least for the time being.
But it would be naive to believe they could permanently control the distribution of the video.
And it would be naive to believe her popularity will not soar because of this video, which will only result in lucrative future contracts.
I am a multimedia journalist who has been fighting a lengthy legal battle after having photographed Miami police against their wishes in Feb. 2007. Please help the fight by donating to my Legal Defense Fund in the top left sidebar, which helps pay for the thousands of dollars I’ve acrued in debt since my arrest. To keep updated on the latest articles, join my networks at Facebook, Twitter and Friendfeed.