Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Victory at Last in Zeta Battle Leaves OK! with [Pounds Sterling]4m Bill

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Victory at Last in Zeta Battle Leaves OK! with [Pounds Sterling]4m Bill

Article excerpt

OK! MAGAZINE today won its marathon [pounds sterling]9 million legal battle over the wedding pictures of Hollywood stars Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

For seven years its lawyers have fought its bitter rival Hello! over the unauthorised use of snatched pictures of the ceremony. Finally the Law Lords ruled today by the narrowest possible three to two margin in OK!'s favour.

They reinstated the High Court order that Hello! must pay OK! [pounds sterling]1 million but they also found that Hello! had not injured its rival's business.

As a result the two battling magazines are expected to share the estimated [pounds sterling]8 million costs of the case.

Lawyers for celebrities around the world were studying the fine print in the 94-page judgements by the five judges in England's highest court.

Legal sources say the initial impression is that the ruling will make little change to the question of privacy.

But there could be a shift in image rights and celebrity merchandising which could bring Britain closer to the law in France and the United States. In America celebrities are protected by publicity rights banning the unauthorised use of their image unless it can be justified as being in the public interest.

Neither Zeta-Jones nor her husband were in the Lords today. They had withdrawn from the case earlier but were said to be still committed to preserving their confidentiality.

The multi-million pound row started when OK! paid [pounds sterling]1 million for the exclusive rights to the Douglas wedding at the Plaza Hotel, New York, in November 2000. A photographer gatecrashed the party and took blurred pictures of the stars and their guests which later appeared in Hello!.

In 2003 Zeta-Jones told the High Court how she had felt "devastated, shocked and appalled" when she realised unwanted photographers had infiltrated the high security wedding. …

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