Let’s look into history and remember the case when celebrities managed to defeat the paparazzi.
It’s always interesting to watch your favorite actress or singer go shopping for bread, tie a shoelace or walk hand in hand with a mysterious stranger — simply because we are curious to know how celebrities behave in everyday life.
But where is the line between the life of a public person and the private life of a celebrity? This question was the basis of the struggle of Princess Caroline of Monaco against the paparazzi who constantly pursued her.
What was the crux of the matter
The 64-year-old daughter of famous American actress Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco has been campaigning in various European countries for more than 10 years, fighting against the publication of photos of her personal life.
She lived mainly in France, and on the territory of this state, the prior consent of the princess was necessary for the publication of any photographs where she was not at an official event.
However nothing got in the way take photographs in France and then publish them in another country, such as the UK or Germany, where the publication of such photos is justified in the “public interest”.
The princess several times unsuccessfully filed an injunction in the German courts against the further publication of a series of photographs that appeared in the 1990s in the German magazines Bunte, Freizeit Revue and Neue Post.
She claimed that they violated her right to privacy and the right to control the use of her image. In the photos, the princess was involved in such innocuous activities as skiing, shopping, leaving a restaurant, or just walking.
Court in Germany
In 1999, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany issued a landmark decision: the princess, who is undoubtedly a modern “public figure”, must endure publication of their own photographs in public places, even if they were frames that captured scenes from her daily life, and not official, state
The court explained that the violation of her right to privacy was based on the freedom of the press and the public’s legitimate interest in knowing how an important person to the state usually behaves in public.
European Court of Human Rights
The princess then filed a lawsuit with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg, arguing that the decisions of the German courts violated her right to privacy and her right to respect for family life, which are protected by the Convention.
The court ruled that the publication by German magazines of photographs of the Princess in her daily life, alone or with others, did indeed fall within the scope of her private life. Thus, it was decided that the Convention was applicable.
The real problem was how and where to balance the need to protect the privacy of the Princess with freedom of expression, which is also guaranteed by the Convention.
The Court held that while freedom of expression also extended to the publication of photographs, this was an area in which the protection of the rights and reputations of others took on particular importance:
“The present case is not about the dissemination of “ideas”, but images containing very personal or even intimate information about a person. In addition, the photographs appearing in the tabloid press are often taken in an atmosphere of constant harassment, which makes the person feel disturbed by the strong feelings of privacy being invaded or even harassed.
6 reasons why Princess Caroline was right. Opinion of the ECtHR:
- In the present case, the photographs depicted the Princess in a moment of her daily life and thus she was involved in activities of a purely private nature;
- It turns out that the photos were taken without her knowledge or consent, and in some cases secretly;
- It was clear that the footage did nothing to contribute to a discussion of public interest, as the princess in the photo was not on official duty;
- While the general public may have had a right to information, including, in special circumstances, about the private lives of public figures, in this case they did not have such a right;
- The Court considered that the public had no legitimate interest in knowing the whereabouts of the princess or her behavior in private, even if she appeared in places that could not always be called secluded and which were well known to the public;
- The Court affirmed the fundamental importance of protecting privacy “in terms of the development of the personality of each person” and stated that everyone, including persons known to the public, should have the “legitimate expectation” that his or her privacy will be protected.
How did it all end?
In 2004, Princess Caroline of Monaco won a landmark European Court of Human Rights ruling that it was illegal to publish paparazzi photos of the princess in a public place. violation of her rights to privacy.
According to the ECtHR, German courts did not strike a fair balance between the interests of the public and the private life of a famous person.
The fight between Princess Caroline and the paparazzi has prompted courts across Europe to take a tougher stance on the publication of images of celebrities who do not perform official functions or attract public attention.
The five-year-old daughter of Princess Caroline of Monaco received a record £53,000 compensation from the German Supreme Court in 2004 after magazines published photos of her without her family’s permission.
This is believed to be one of the highest sums “ever awarded to a minor in a German press rights trial”.