Having paid £1,000,000 for the exclusive Douglas/Zeta Jones wedding press coverage rights, OK! went to Court on Tuesday 21 November for an injunction preventing arch rival Hello! from running a classic spoiler featuring unofficial snaps of the nuptials
Topic: Human rights
Who: Hello! and OK!
When: November 2000
Where: The Supreme Court of Justice, London
Having paid £1,000,000 for the exclusive Douglas/Zeta Jones wedding press coverage rights, OK! went to Court on Tuesday 21 November for an injunction preventing arch rival Hello! from running a classic "spoiler" featuring unofficial snaps of the nuptials. Initially, OK! was successful, though by the time they got their injunction they were unable to stop over 15,000 copies of the offending Hello! issue going on sale in North London. On Friday 24 November Hello! won round 2 on appeal and the remainder of the 755,900 print run was released. The Court of Appeal lifted the injunction. They said they were dubious as to whether any confidentiality still subsisted in the stars' wedding. They also felt that whatever the legal merits, OK! could be adequately compensated in damages at the end of the day if Hello! were proved to have done wrong once all the evidence and the issues in the case had been fully aired at trial.
Why this matters:
The Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) and its protection of rights such as those to privacy and free speech are quickly forming part of the stock armoury of media lawyers. The general wisdom, however, is that the HRA does not give a direct right of action, for instance, to claim damages for breach of the right to privacy. Rather, the HRA provides a code which all verdicts of the Court must comply with, so that before pronouncing judgment in any case, the Judge must stop to consider whether his decision will, for example, be consistent with the right to privacy and/or the right to free speech.
In the marketing arena, this dynamic free speech/privacy tension is likely to arise in many different scenarios including that of the appearance of an individual in advertising without their consent. Whether free commercial speech is likely to win out at the end of the day in a straight fight with the right to privacy is a moot point, but just as with Posh and Beck's failed attempt to injunct disclosures by a former lackey recently, those who actively seek the public gaze and have a history of working in advertising may not derive much succour from the new protection UK law now gives to the right to privacy.