Booksellers and publishers are joining forces to sue the state of Arizona, saying a new law aiming to protect people from having nude photos of themselves displayed without consent violates their constitutional rights.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in federal court by the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU Foundation of Arizona, and law firm Dentons US LLP, general counsel for the Media Coalition. The so-called "nude photo law" took effect July 24, and was crafted to prevent nude images from going on display without the consent of the person depicted in the buff. It's also a way to stop so-called "revenge porn," where spurned lovers post intimate shots of their former partners without consent.
The suit says the law is too broad and violates free speech. "The law criminalizes far more than such offensive acts, and it is not limited to 'revenge,'" the coalition said. "A prosecutor need not prove that the person publishing the photograph intended to harm the person depicted."
The group argues that under this new law, some photographs, like the famous Pulitzer Prize–winning shot of a girl running away from a napalm attack during the Vietnam War while not wearing any clothes, could lead to prosecution. Or, newspapers that show images like those that came out of the Iraqi prison Abu Ghraib could be punished.
Gayle Shanks, owner of Changing Hands Bookstores in Tempe and Phoenix, told The Times this law puts her and other booksellers at risk. "There are books on my shelves right now that might be illegal to sell under this law," she said. "How am I supposed to know whether the subjects of these photos gave their permission?"