Embarrassing Viral Video of You Being Stupid in Public: Not a Violation of Your Privacy, Court Rules

Remember the 2004 clip of that pompous DEA agent who shot himself in the thigh in front of a community center classroom? It was like an awful deleted scene from Breaking Bad meets a bloopers reel, or so the millions who watched it seemed to think. The DEA agent wasn’t so happy, especially with the gossipy agency he worked for, who passed the video around enough to go viral. He’s since sued the DEA for violating his privacy, by letting the video get out into the open. The result?

As noted by Kashmir Hill at Forbes, not so much. In December 2010, a court ruled against the agent for not providing evidence of who leaked it; but as reported by the Associated Press, on appeal, a three-judge panel upheld the original verdict.

They noted that—even though the DEA should probably keep a tighter lid on their investigations’ evidence, internal or otherwise—the video was made in a public place, at a public event, and contained no private facts. For all of the unintentional viral video stars of the world, this may represent a sort of depressing precedent for any legal hopes they might’ve had at some point. For the rest of us, it just means that the Internet’s flow of producing wildly amusing ephemera with which to distract us will not be impeded any time soon.

fkamer@observer.com |