'Rihanna's Law,' Spurred By Photo Leak, Aims To Prevent Victim Exploitation

Victims-rights movement gaining support following leaked photo of battered singer.

Spurred by the outrage over the leaked photo of a battered Rihanna following her alleged beating at the hands of boyfriend Chris Brown, a movement is taking root in Los Angeles to pass a so-called "Rihanna's Law" against releasing photos or information that exploits victims of crimes.

The Los Angeles Times reports that support for the law has been gaining traction ever since the Los Angeles Police Department announced that it was investigating the leak and possible sale of photos of [url id="http://www.mtv.com/music/artist/rihanna/artist.jhtml"]Rihanna[/url] with a bruised and battered face to the Web site TMZ after those images had been entered into evidence. TMZ has claimed it obtained the photo legally but has not said how it came into possession of the image.

Among the groups reportedly supporting the creation of the law is STOParazzi, the self-proclaimed Celebrity Rights Advocacy Group that has also weighed in on the airport scuffle that recently resulted in Kanye West being hit with three misdemeanor charges.

"We can no longer tolerate the leaking of private information when an interest turns into stalking," STOParazzi president Terry Ahern told the paper. Ahern said he thinks Rihanna's Law would deter employees of law-enforcement agencies from releasing photos or information that exploits crime victims.

The nonstop coverage of the Rihanna/Brown case has brought up a number of issues regarding the privacy of alleged victims of domestic violence, including the decision by almost all major news outlets to divulge the identity of the victim — which is not typically done in domestic-violence cases — as well as the wide distribution of the disturbing image of the "Umbrella" singer.

The current laws covering the leaking of such crime photos or videos, posted on the STOParazzi Web site, have no provision for prosecuting outlets that publish those images as long as no one can prove money was exchanged for them.

The proposed law suggests that "if a private crime photo is distributed, the receipt of money for that act is irrelevant and does not diminish the detrimental effect such public distribution of private crime photos could have on the victim, the case itself, other victims of similar crimes, etc. Just because the person who leaked it may have done it, for example, because they were disgruntled or vindictive or even, perhaps, to help the defense, and not for money, per se, should not make it legal."

A spokesperson for the LAPD could not be reached for comment about the proposed law at press time.

Brown, 19, has been charged with two felony counts — assault and making criminal threats — in the case and is due back in court on April 6 for his arraignment, at which time he could enter a plea.

Go here for domestic-violence resources, or check out Think MTV for a video handbook on spotting the warning signs of abuse.