I was on Sky tv news last night commenting on various strange stories including this one about Nicholas Sarkozy. Apparently, the French President is suing the maker of a satirical voodoo doll that, his lawyer claims, has illegally appropriated Sarkozy's image. Here is what the lawyer, Thierry Herzog, wrote to the manufacturer of the Sarkozy look-a-like voodoo doll:
"Nicolas Sarkozy has instructed me to remind you that, whatever his status and fame, he has exclusive and absolute rights over his own image."
Absolute rights over one's own image... in this digital day and age? Even Sarkozy, with his Louis XIV complex, must be joking here. That would mean Sarah Palin could sue Tina Fey for becoming the real Sarah Palin. It would allow Chairman Mao to take Andy Warhol to court. It might even mean that it would become illegal to take people's photograph without their permission, thus at a stroke putting all paparazzi out of work.
I usually don't like the break the law, especially when it comes to copyright. But even I can't resist plastering Sarkozy's photo on my site, thereby challenging his absolute right to control his own image. This Gallic clown makes George W. Bush appear presidential. Is the he -- to excuse the pun -- for real?
Should we sick Dr Lessig on Sarkozy?