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Britain's top court backs OK! magazine in fight over Catherine Zeta-Jones wedding photos

Britain's top court backs OK! magazine in fight over Catherine Zeta-Jones wedding photos

Britain's top court ruled Wednesday that a celebrity magazine is entitled to damages from a rival that published snatched photographs of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones' wedding.
A panel of judges in the House of Lords said Hello! magazine breached confidentiality by publishing secretly snapped pictures of the couple's November 2000 nuptials. Douglas and Zeta-Jones had signed an exclusive 1-million-pound (US$2-million; euro1.4-million) deal with rival OK! to cover their lavish wedding at New York's Plaza Hotel.
"Having paid 1 million pounds for an exclusive right it seems to me that OK! ought to be in a position to protect that right and to look to the law for redress were a third party intentionally to destroy it," said one of the judges, Lord Brown. The judges ruled in favor of OK! by a 3-2 margin.
They ruled, however, that Hello!'s actions had not harmed its rival's business, meaning the magazines will each have to absorb the millions in legal fees racked up in the yearslong saga.
A High Court judge ruled in favor of OK! in November 2003, ordering Hello! to pay costs and damages of more than 2 million pounds (US$4 million; euro2.8 million).
Hello! appealed, arguing that it had run its wedding pictures as a "spoiler" to its rival's coverage _ a common practice in journalism.
In 2005, the Court of Appeal agreed, overturning the costs and damages ruling and ordering OK! to pay back the money it had received.
On Wednesday the Law Lords _ judges who sit in the House of Lords and make up the country's highest court _ reinstated the damages ruling.
The couple, who received 14,600 pounds (US$29,000; euro21,000) in damages from Hello! after the original trial, were not involved in the latest hearing.
During a dramatic six-week hearing at the High Court in 2003, Zeta-Jones said she had felt "violated" when Hello! published its "sleazy and unflattering" pictures.
She singled out an image that showed Douglas feeding her wedding cake, saying "I don't usually like my husband shoving a spoon down my throat to be photographed."