The recent furore over Kate Middleton's breasts has exemplified the issue. Two weeks later and the story still refuses to go away; new outlets are publishing the photos every day and there are a whole array of claims and counter claims about who could have taken them
You could be forgiven this week for thinking there was nothing more important going on in the world than the unveiling of semi-nude photos of the Duchess of Cambridge. On one side of the world, our future queen kept a never fading, gracious smile fixed for the cameras, as her nine-day tour of the Far East and South Pacific came to an end. On the other, her lawyers, magazine editors, media commentators and every one in-between had their say on the rights and wrongs of publishing the now infamous topless snaps.
Here's what's really at stake - these naked royalty photos are all about us "commoners" feeling the power. Just as much of the tabloids are filled with photos and stories of celebrities falling on their faces in some fashion - it makes us feel temporarily "better" than them.
We've made a new sport of catching people out, posting and tagging photos of them in situations that were private, and not meant for mass-consumption: flesh spilling over a swimsuit, a chocolate-smeared mouth or cocktail-fueled moment. Then we spend hours trolling Facebook with an open window onto other's private moments.
Of course negative stories about women - their bodies and behaviour in particular - are the choice fodder of some sections of the British press.
The majority of men and women were found to prefer female ﬁgures of medium or low body weight with medium-sized hips and a narrow waist. However, a striking gender difference emerged over breast size, with 40% of men preferring a large bust size, in comparison to only 25% of women.
Here in Paris, the most common reaction to the topless photos that I've seen has been a typically French squint. They furrow their brow, raise one side of their mouth as if to show off a newly capped incisor, and exhale noisily. The English-speaking equivalent of the expression would be "duh". The subtext is, what did you expect? The second a famous woman takes off her bikini top anywhere in France, she is going to hear the click of a camera and the patter of tiny fingers emailing the photo to a magazine editor.
Following the events of the recent weeks (Prince Harry's naked pictures in a Vegas hotel and Kate Middleton's topless pictures on holiday) some may be wondering whether it is possible for the royals to have it all. They have the titles, popularity and money, but it appears that they also want to live their lives like everyone else.
One such side-effect of the sickness of sharing and the ease with which the infection can be passed on is the resurrection online of the spirit of a TV show you never thought you'd see in the UK again. Smile, everybody, you're on Candid Camera, whether you like it or not - and you may never even find out.
But, what about the internet, I hear you cry? Kate's topless photos have shot around the world. Doesn't this make an utter nonsense of press regulation, statutory or non-statutory? And isn't it unfair to put newspapers, already in a dodgy financial state, at a commercial disadvantage by not being able to publish content widely available online? There are no easy answers. But, unless you want to dispense with regulation altogether, to give newspapers an automatic right to reproduce anything they fancy from the internet surely cannot be justified.
However, when the issue at stake is not immorally-accessed video footage of illegal drone strikes on civilians, but instead pictures of a famous person's floppy bits, then the philosophical momentum drains somewhat from the freedom of the press argument.
Is there a single woman in the world who wants to see Kate's privacy cynically and sleazily blown to bits? It's hard to imagine FHM, Esquire or even ZOO or NUTS publishing these photographs. Where's the female solidarity?
Poor Prince Harry. He stepped straight out of his clothes and into a furore about badly behaved royals, the strangulation of the press and the stripping of his title; and it's all because he got a little wild in Las Vegas.
The Olympics have finished, turned off the flame, shut the door on the stadium and left the building.
I should probably admit right off the bat that I actually quite like Vanity Fair. I'm not saying I buy it or anything but if I see a copy lying round the office I will most likely pick it up and read it.