Not Illegal to Take 'Upskirt' Photos, Top U.S. Court Rules

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | March 7, 2014 3:54 PM EST

A top U.S. court has ruled that it is not illegal to take upskirt photos of women.

The Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts overruled an earlier judgement by a lower court and declared Michael Robertson not guilty on Wednesday, March 5. Mr Robertson was arrested in August 2010 in a sting operation when he was found taking upskirt videos and photos of women with his mobile phone. Even though he was charged in a lower court, an apparent loophole in the law set the man free.

According to the court ruling, existing Peeping Tom laws prohibit people from taking photos of people who are nude or partially nude in private places like washrooms and dressing rooms. However, when it comes to clothed people in public, there is no such protective law. The court ruling has further clarified that a woman wearing any kind of a dress that covers her private parts cannot be termed as "nude" or "partially nude." It does not matter what kind of dress or underwear she may be wearing, she should still be considered "clothed."

The state law is not applicable to photographers or videographers capturing clothed people. The court admits that an action like Mr Robertson's should be made illegal. However, the present set of laws has nothing against him at the moment, The Guardian reported. Beacon Hill lawmakers have been alarmed by the apparent flaw in the legal system and pledged for an update to the state law.

For those who are still not aware of what upskirt photos are, here is a brief introduction. The term refers to unauthorised photographing of covered or uncovered private parts of a woman under her skirt. It can either be an image or a video. The photographer apparently takes advantage of the woman being unaware of being photographed in such a manner. Upskirt photos can be associated with criminal activities like extortion as the victim is threatened to have her photos circulated online otherwise.

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