Commentary: What do the Hulk, Dr. Phil, and Reddit Trolls have in common?

Answer:  They’re all stuck in a web of privacy and ownership issues that has been spun together by blog style news site Gawker


Gawker’s in hot water, again! This time they allegedly used media from a source that did not give them permission. A clip of Dr. Phil’s oh-so-quality show. With the quality motto “Today’s Gossip is Tomorrow’s News”, this is not the first encounter with infringement.

Yep, Gawker is fresh off a ruling to take down another celebified clip.

Ordered to remove an illegally obtained sex tape featuring Hulk Hogan and any information written about it, Gawker “gawked” at the request. Armed with lawyers and an online version of the constitution, they dug their heels in and tried to keep it all- the video, the writing about the video…

The challenge from team Gawker is that the whole thing is protected speech; as it is of interest to the public and is about a public figure, they should be able to post the video and information about it no matter how it was obtained. How a judge rules could seriously impact the future of “gawker” style journalism (gossip? fiction? provocation?).

Check out their reasoning: A Judge Told Us to Take Down Our Hulk Hogan Sex Tape Post. We Won’t.

It was just last year that Gawker upset some of the higher ups at Reddit, another site in which “freedom to post” is seen as akin to “freedom of speech”. The unmasking of Reddit power-user and grade-A creep “Violentacrez” (pronounced violent-acres, in case, you know, the guy’s name comes up at dinner?!) shook the community. In the wake of Anonymous internet justice is a hot topic, but did the attack do any lasting damage to the power structures that support the misogynist photos Violentacrez was infamous for amalgamating? That’s doubtful.

So while Gawker posts two videos of/about people who expressly do not want their work posted on the site, a guy who posts private pictures on another site is lambasted… by Gawker. Is this fair? Is this just? There’s no right answer, and I’m not sure how to feel- other than happy I didn’t have to see that Hulk sex tape.

In the end, I just hope Gawker isn’t the future of free speech, because free speech might just mean no privacy and no ownership rights.

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