General News

Zeta-Jones, Douglas Win Battle Over Photos

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Apr 11, 2003 | 9:36am EDT

A London court ruled partially in favor of Hollywood couple Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas in their right-to-privacy lawsuit against Hello! magazine, Reuters reports.

The pair sued Hello! for 500,000 British pounds ($800,000) for printing "surreptitious" and unflattering pictures from their wedding in 2000, some of which show Douglas feeding his new bride cake. The pictures were released three days before official shots were to appear in rival magazine OK!, which had signed a one million pound deal with the couple. OK! is also seeking damages.

"We deeply appreciate that the court has recognized the principle that every individual has the right to be protected from excessive and unwarranted media intrusion into their private lives," the couple said in a statement.

Although the High Court judge John Lindsay ruled that Hello! breached the couple's rights of confidence, he rejected the couple's claims of invasion of privacy and "aggravated and exemplary" damages, Reuters reports.

"Given that there was in any event to be very extensive photographic coverage of the wedding, albeit as selected by the Douglases, I do not see the behavior of Hello! as so flagrant or offensive as to justify an award of aggravated damages," he told Reuters.

Hello! publishing director Sally Cartwright told Reuters that the judge had thrown out nine out of the 13 claims against the magazine, calling the remaining four areas where he found against them, "commercial ones."

"These rulings bear out what we have always said," she claimed. "That this case was not brought about privacy but about a commercial deal: money and control."

During the trial, a diamond-accessorized Zeta-Jones, 33, defended their choice to make a deal with OK!, saying that while a million pounds might be a lot to some people in the courtroom, it was "not that much for us."

With regard to court costs, which are estimated at three million pounds ($4.7 million), Judge Lindsay said that if the parties could not agree on the amount of Hello!'s liability to the couple and OK! magazine, he would schedule a further hearing.

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