For someone who claims to have a law degree and works as a law professor, James Hirsen seems to lack a grasp of the finer points of the law.
In his Nov. 20 Newsmax column, Hirsen writes that the photo of Sarah Palin that recently appeared on the cover of Newsweek was originally shot for Runner's World magazine, and the photographer's contract allegedly stated that photos from that session were "under embargo" -- not to be used by anyone other than Runner's World -- until August 2010. Hirsen then writes, "It appears that the sale to Newsweek was illegal."
No, it wasn't. A violation of a contract is not the same thing as a violation of law. No criminal statute address the sale of photos. Newsweek will not be hauled into court -- nor will anyone else -- to be arraigned on charges of selling or buying an allegedly embargoed photo. Violations of contracts, when they do enter the court system, are handled in civil court, not criminal court.
Hirsen does seem to understand that, stating that the photographer or his agency "may have violated provisions of his contract for some fast cash from the magazine." But that didn't keep Hirsen from calling it "illegal."
Then, even as Hirsen narrowed down the alleged culprit in this case to the agency that sold the photo to Newsweek, he found a way to attack Newsweek anyway, insisting that the "big question with respect to Newsweek is whether or not anyone there knew that Adams, the photographer, was not contractually free to sell the picture" -- despite quoting a Newsweek spokesman saying that the magazine was "not aware of any issues with it."
Hirsen then snarks: "Isn’t it comforting to know that when Newsweek violates journalistic ethics they do so in a gender-neutral way?" This from a guy with a long history of violating journalistic ethics by repeatedly failing to disclose his close relationship with Mel Gibson even as he wrote numerous fawning articles at Newsmax about the actor and his projects.