Former Olympus president Tsuyoshi Kikukawa may soon spend up to five years of his life in prison for his role in Olympus’ massive financial scandal that rocked corporate Japan back in 2011. Prosecutors allege that Kikukawa orchestrated a coverup of $1.7 billion in company losses, one of the biggest frauds in Japanese history and the country’s equivalent of America’s Enron scandal.
It looks like the Olympus financial scandal is finally coming to an end. It has been nearly a year since it came to light that there were massive cases of fraud and coverups going on in the upper echelons of Olympus management. What started as a CEO’s firing quickly spiraled into one of the biggest scandals to ever hit corporate Japan — the country’s equivalent of the US’ Enron fiasco.
In the end, a number of the company’s top executives were arrested after submitting their resignations. The trials for those former bigwigs are only now starting to get underway. Three of them, including former chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa (pictured above), pleaded guilty today to charges of falsifying accounts and covering up more than $1 billion in losses. The camera company itself also filed a guilty plea.
Shepard Fairey avoided jail time after all. The Obama HOPE poster artist was sentenced today to two years of probation and a $25,000 fine for using an AP photo without permission and then destroying evidence to cover his tracks. The New York Times writes that the entire dispute will be an interesting case study for fair use law:
When the case began in 2009, Mr. Fairey argued that his use of Associated Press imagery constituted fair use under copyright law. But the civil lawsuit was settled before that question was decided, and the two sides agreed to financial terms that were not disclosed. The parties also agreed to share the rights to make posters and merchandise bearing the “Hope” image. Mr. Fairey maintained that he had never personally profited from sales of the image, a contention The A.P. disputed.
[...] Until the settlement between Mr. Fairey and The Associated Press, the case was watched closely as one that might define more clearly the murky issues surrounding the fair-use exceptions to copyright protections. One of the central questions was whether Mr. Fairey’s creation, which became ubiquitous on street corners and T-shirts during and after Mr. Obama’s campaign, constituted a “transformative” use of the photograph, a use that is allowed under the law so that creative expression is not stifled.
In his official statement on the matter, AP CEO Gary Pruitt states, “We hope this case will serve as a clear reminder to all of the importance of fair compensation for those who gather and produce original news content.”
Image credit: Shepard Fairey at the ICA by WBUR
Prison is no cake walk — and rightfully so. Inmates of maximum security prisons have often done terrible things, things that in some states are still punishable by death. But is there a fate worse than death? Read more…
Last week we wrote about an obscure law in Washington DC that can land a person in jail for doing photography for “more than 5 minutes at location”. The Washington Post published a clarification stating that the law is targeted at people who make a living taking a portrait for strangers on city sidewalks. However, the National Press Photographers Association isn’t satisfied with the explanation, and has written a letter to the city requesting that the “vague” law be repealed:
[...] these three vague and incrementally overly broad sections taken together could be interpreted to mean that any photographer taking a photograph of anything, be it a building, person or inanimate object for longer than five (5) minutes would be in violation of the regulations and subject to fine or arrest [...] We contend that this licensing scheme, based upon regulations that are facially inconsistent with the protections provided under the First Amendment, is unconstitutional.
[...] these facially defective regulations will only further contribute to the erroneous belief by law enforcement that public photography may be arbitrarily limited or curtailed.
The NPPA also writes that they’re concerned that the law could be used against photographers covering events such as “Occupy Wall Street”.
NPPA Seeks Repeal of D.C. Regulations Limiting Street Photography [NPPA]
Image credit: 2011 09 11 – 6780 – Washington DC – Police by thisisbossi
Update: Apparently this isn’t something ordinary photographers need to worry about. See below.
The Washington Post has published a list of 160 misdemeanor offenses that can land you in jail in Washington D.C. While most are quite reasonable (e.g. “Sale of Cigarettes to a Minor” or “Unlicensed Driving Instructor”), there is one that is troubling. Under the category “Photographer Violations” is the entry:
Photographer – More than 5 minutes at location
The entry is quite vague and, as Carlos Miller points out, leaves a lot of room for police officer interpretation.
Update: The Washington Post has written a followup article addressing this issue (thx Darrow). Apparently the law is directed at full-time photographers who photograph passersby on the streets:
”Our policy has been that the street photographer license would apply to persons who are stationed on public space to take photos of passersby,” said agency spokesman Helder Gil in an e-mail. Amateurs aren’t covered, he said, nor are “journalists, professional photographers who take pictures of buildings/scenery, or wedding photographers taking pics of happy couples on D.C. streets and sidewalks.”
So as long as you don’t make a living hustling tourists for snapshots, you can snap away without keeping an eye on your watch.
Image credit: Washington DC – Police Officers at Freedom Plaza by thisisbossi
A 19-year-old man in the UK has been sentenced to two months in prison for snapping a courtroom photo. Paul Thompson was sitting in a public gallery last week — the defendant was a friend who was on trial for robbery — when another friend texted him to ask where he was. Thompson decided to snap a picture with his Blackberry to explain why he couldn’t talk, but was quickly arrested by officers who noticed what he was doing. He was then sentenced to two months in prison for “contempt of court” by Judge Barbara Mensah, who wanted to send out a strong message:
There are notices all around the court building about not taking photographs in court. This is a serious offence and the message must go out that people cannot take photos.
Although two months in jail seems harsh, it could have been worse: CBS News notes that the law gives the courts the right to jail someone for up to two years for photography.
(via The Guardian via Small Aperture)
Update: Apparently the teen was being a lot more disruptive than most news sources are reporting. Thanks Tom.
Image credit: Courtroom by ☺ Lee J Haywood
Regardless of how bad photographers’ rights seem to be in your country, here’s a story that will definitely make you appreciate them at least a little bit more: a photojournalist named Sithu Zeya may spend 18 years of his life in prison after being arrested for photography. Zeya, who’s only 21 years old, was arrested in Burma last year after getting caught photographing the aftermath of a grenade attack that killed 10 people in the country’s largest city, Yangon. After being sentenced to 8 years in prison last year, a Yangon court decided to tack an extra 10 years onto his prison sentence yesterday for posting online material that could “damage tranquillity and unity in the government.”
Suddenly those stories you hear of photographers getting harassed by police don’t seem nearly as bad, eh?
(via AP via PDN Pulse)