Celebrity privacy and benefits of simple history

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New Dimensions in Privacy Law: International and Comparative Perspectives, 2006, pp. 250 - 269
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© Cambridge University Press 2006 and Cambridge University Press, 2009. Introduction: Is personal revelation the right of the subject alone or can others tell the story even without consent? The question lies at the heart of recent celebrity privacy cases. When Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones claimed their wedding party had been intercepted by underground paparazzi with the photographs to be published in Hello!, their complaint was not that they should be let alone completely. Indeed they had contracted with OK! to give the public account of their celebration with carefully vetted authorised pictures. Yet they claimed their privacy was implicated and the equitable action for breach of confidence was the way to protect this; a claim partly and with some reservations accepted by the courts, which refused an interlocutory injunction but subsequently allowed damages for the unauthorised publication (at the time suggesting the injunction should have been awarded). When Naomi Campbell found herself the subject of an article in the Mirror revealing details of her treatment for a drug addiction, with covertly taken photographs in support, her essential complaint was that the story had been obtained and published without her knowledge or approval (although conceding that her own previous false accounts meant she was in no position to prevent telling about her addiction). Further, the House of Lords left her the option in finding her confidence breached.
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