Press law: Press report on Prin­ce Albert per­mis­si­ble

Paris Match Cover Prince AlbersThe Euro­pean Court of Human Rights has ruled that a French newspaper’s covera­ge of Prin­ce Albert of Monaco’s ille­gi­ti­ma­te son is per­mis­si­ble(Ref: ECtHR 40454/07). The court thus ruled dif­fer­ent­ly than the French lower courts.

In 2005, the French news­pa­per “Paris Match” had published an artic­le inclu­ding pic­tures about an ille­gi­ti­ma­te son of Albert and his mother. Albert then took the maga­zi­ne to court in France and was award­ed 50,000 euros in dama­ges.

Weig­hing pri­va­cy — free­dom of expres­si­on

The Euro­pean Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) now con­side­red the decis­i­ons against the maga­zi­ne to be a vio­la­ti­on of free­dom of expres­si­on under Artic­le 10(2) of the Euro­pean Con­ven­ti­on on Human Rights. On the other hand, Albert’s pri­va­cy had been vio­la­ted pur­su­ant to Artic­le 8 (1) of the Euro­pean Con­ven­ti­on on Human Rights. Howe­ver, a balan­cing of the two rights would show that the public inte­rest out­weighs the pro­tec­tion of pri­va­cy in this case.

This results from the fact that a child of the prin­ce could have pos­si­ble finan­cial and inhe­ri­tance con­se­quen­ces for the sta­te and thus the­re is a gene­ral public inte­rest. At the time of report­ing, Albert had not reco­gni­zed the child, but he could have been legi­ti­mi­zed as heir to the thro­ne by mar­ry­ing the mother. The monarch’s beha­vi­or toward the child’s mother, which is the sub­ject of the artic­le, is also of inte­rest to the public becau­se it gives an insight into the monarch’s per­so­na­li­ty and shows how he deals with respon­si­bi­li­ty.

Decis­i­on of the OLG Karls­ru­he

The Ger­man courts have also alre­a­dy dealt with the case. In 2005, Albert had filed a lawsu­it in Ger­ma­ny against the maga­zi­ne “Bun­te,” which had published an artic­le with the same images and con­tent. Howe­ver, he was not suc­cessful befo­re eit­her the Frei­burg Regio­nal Court or the Karls­ru­he Hig­her Regio­nal Court(Case No. 14 U 169/05). Both courts con­side­red the public’s inte­rest in infor­ma­ti­on to be more important than the right to pri­va­cy.

Legal situa­ti­on in Ger­ma­ny

In Ger­ma­ny, the basic right of the gene­ral right of per­so­na­li­ty under Artic­le 2 (1) in con­junc­tion with Artic­le 1 (1) of the Ger­man Basic Law appli­es to ver­ba­tim report­ing in favor of the per­son con­cer­ned. This right pro­tects various are­as of per­so­na­li­ty and includes, for exam­p­le, inti­ma­cy and pri­va­cy, the pro­tec­tion of repu­ta­ti­on and honor, or the right to infor­ma­tio­nal self-deter­mi­na­ti­on. The gene­ral right of per­so­na­li­ty of the per­son con­cer­ned must then be weig­hed up in the indi­vi­du­al case against the inte­rests of the repor­ter or the gene­ral public wort­hy of pro­tec­tion under the fun­da­men­tal rights of the press, free­dom of expres­si­on or artis­tic free­dom. Depen­ding on which fun­da­men­tal right pre­vails in the spe­ci­fic case, the report­ing is then per­mis­si­ble or imper­mis­si­ble. Howe­ver, if the­re is an untrue fac­tu­al asser­ti­on about a per­son that vio­la­tes the right of per­so­na­li­ty of the per­son con­cer­ned, the right of per­so­na­li­ty has unrest­ric­ted prio­ri­ty, wit­hout the need for any weig­hing.

The spe­cial Art Copy­right Act (KUG) appli­es to the publi­ca­ti­on of pho­tos in Ger­ma­ny. Accor­ding to Sec­tion 22 of the Ger­man Art Copy­right Act, no pho­to­graph may be published or exhi­bi­ted wit­hout the con­sent of the per­son depic­ted. Howe­ver, an excep­ti­on appli­es pur­su­ant to Sec­tion 23 (1) No. 1 of the Ger­man Art Copy­right Act (Kunst­ur­he­ber­ge­setz ) for images from the field of con­tem­po­ra­ry histo­ry. For each indi­vi­du­al case, it must be deter­mi­ned whe­ther the per­son con­cer­ned is a so-cal­led per­son of con­tem­po­ra­ry histo­ry. The­se can be, for exam­p­le, poli­ti­ci­ans, ath­le­tes or cele­bri­ties. Pho­to­graphs of per­sons of con­tem­po­ra­ry histo­ry may thus be published wit­hout con­sent, pro­vi­ded that a legi­ti­ma­te inte­rest of the per­son depic­ted is not ther­eby vio­la­ted.

If you have any ques­ti­ons or need assis­tance with a dis­pu­te regar­ding unwan­ted covera­ge or published pho­tos, plea­se feel free to cont­act us by pho­ne at 0221–4201074, by email at info@rehkatsch.de, or sche­du­le an appoint­ment with our office.

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