Covering Injustice

Monitor media and other people’s rights

Click for related ACADEMY Lesson Plan

  • Role-playing exercise 1: You and your friends have been together for a while as a band and you play around your area for weddings and other parties. You find out that while you were playing at your last party, one of those who attended taped your performance and is selling CDs of your music and has also uploaded MP3 files of your songs to his website and is selling the tracks to people who want to download them. Your band’s name—and all of the performers—are, however, identified on the CD and online.

➢ Do you feel thrilled that someone likes your music enough to have taped it and that others like it enough to buy it? Or do you feel like your musical creations have been exploited by someone else for his own profit?
➢ You decide to go visit him and ask him to pay you for his use of your music. He laughs in your face and says that you weren’t bothering to sell it yourself and he is making you famous—that you should pay him as your agent. Do you agree?
➢ He then says I know that you have music CDs of several major musicians that have been pirated, and music on your MP3 player that has been illegally downloaded. In other words the famous musicians playing on those CDs and tracks are not getting paid by you for their music. He tells you: “I’m just doing to you, what you’ve done to others.” What do you say?
➢ Should people own the rights to what they create?

  • Role-playing exercise 2: Consider that the students in the class are all editors at a local newspaper or television station. The most prominent football player on the national team has been spotted by one of your reporters at a private party with a popular music star. The reporter was not at the party on assignment—he just happened to be there and saw the football player and the music star together. The reporter surreptitiously took several photos of the couple dancing.  The reporter returns to the newsroom and you have to decide whether to use the images or not—and if so, which one to run.

➢ Because both the man and the woman are often in the public eye and are public figures can you invade their privacy by running an intimate photo of them?
➢ Because the party was private should that make a difference to whether you decide to publish an image—then, say, if the couple had been walking down a public street?
➢ Would it make a difference if you knew that the couple was engaged to each other? What if the couple was married to each other? What if the man and woman were married to other people?
➢ Would it make a difference if the photographs were not of anyone famous, but were photographs of a very attractive regular couple? Would you feel differently about publishing photos that would invade their privacy then? Why or why not?