The Mugshot Industry: Freedom of Speech, Rights of Publicity, and the Controversy Sparked by an Unusual New Type of Business

15 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2013

See all articles by Allen Rostron

Allen Rostron

University of Missouri at Kansas City - School of Law

Date Written: January 20, 2013

Abstract

Many companies profit from the dissemination of mugshot photos, whether online or in print. This new type of business arouses strong feelings , with critics charging that it amounts to a form of blackmail, while the mugshot companies contend that they provide a beneficial public service protected by freedom of speech. In this article, I begin the process of exploring the difficult legal questions surrounding mugshot businesses. In my view, people targeted by businesses like BlabberMouth have a viable theory under which to seek legal relief, but a line must be carefully drawn between businesses that merely profit by reproducing mugshot photos and those that take the further step of agreeing not to publicize a mugshot or other arrest information in exchange for payment of a fee.

Keywords: mugshot, mug shot, criminal, arrest, photos, freedom of speech, constitutional

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Rostron, Allen K., The Mugshot Industry: Freedom of Speech, Rights of Publicity, and the Controversy Sparked by an Unusual New Type of Business (January 20, 2013). Washington University Law Review, Vol. 90, No. 4, 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2337214

Allen K. Rostron (Contact Author)

University of Missouri at Kansas City - School of Law ( email )

5100 Rockhill Road
Kansas City, MO 64110-2499
United States

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