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Title: Goodbye Hello! Drawing a line for the paparazzi: Douglas v Hello! Ltd (NO 3) [2003] 3 ALL ER 996, EWHC 2629 (CH)
Contributor(s): Collins, C (author)
Publication Date: 2004
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: On 18 November 2000, the famous film stars Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones married and held a reception at the Plaza Hotel, New York. This was described as 'the showbiz wedding of the year'.¹ A wall of security was put in place to keep the paparazzi out. Invited guests were sent a coded entry card with an invisible ink design on the back, known only to the event planner. The venue was regularly swept for hidden sound or video devices. Upon arrival, each entry card was scrutinised to prove the identity of the bearer, who was then tagged with a gold wedding pin identifying them as an invited guest. Private security guards were also hired. With a security bill of around US$66,000, the event organisers felt they had 'locked down' the venue about as much as possible.At least three reasons explained these elaborate measures. First, Douglas and Zeta-Jones had unfavourably encountered paparazzi many times before.² Knowing that other celebrity weddings had been spoilt by paparazzi, what chance would Douglas and Zeta-Jones have to enjoy — and to see their family and friends enjoy — an intimate and private wedding 'without worrying about the media'?³ Secondly, as film stars, Douglas and Zeta-Jones were in the business of 'name and likeness'⁴with the effect that published photographs assumed professional, not just personal, significance. Thirdly, Douglas and Zeta-Jones had settled upon a 'wedding strategy' of which the security measures formed just part. Another part of the strategy was to release one official wedding photograph to all media outlets on the day of the wedding and to sell the exclusive rights to a selection of other official wedding photographs for later publication. It was thought that these actions would help to satisfy public interest in the event, offer the certainty of fair coverage and reduce the market price for any illicit photographs (of poorer quality and with fewer outlets in the market for them), thereby reducing the incentive for any paparazzi intrusion upon the wedding. In implementing this strategy, and following a bidding war between the publishers of the rival British magazines Hello! and OK!, Douglas and Zeta-Jones signed a contract for £1 million with OK!. This contract gave Douglas and Zeta-Jones full control over all photographers at the wedding, the selection of photographs for publication and 'copy, caption and headline approval'.⁵ Further, to preserve exclusivity for OK!, Douglas and Zeta-Jones were obliged to use their best efforts to ensure that no other media were allowed access to the wedding and that no photographs would be taken other than by the official photographers. So the elaborate security measures can be explained, at least in part, by this contractual benefit and obligation.By all accounts the wedding was a great success. But the happy couple was in for a shock. Although they did not know it at the time, a paparazzo had penetrated the security and got in.⁶
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: University of New England Law Journal, 1(1), p. 135-144
Publisher: University of New England
Place of Publication: Armidale
ISSN: 1449-2199
Field of Research (FOR): 180115 Intellectual Property Law
HERDC Category Description: C2 Non-Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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