Press report about Prince Albert admissable

Paris Match Cover Fürst AlbersThe European Court of Human Rights ruled a French newspaper article about the illegitimate son of Prince Albert of Monaco admissible (Az: ECHR 40454/07). The Court therefore decided unlike the French courts.

In 2005 the french newspaper “Paris Match” published an article including photos of an illegitimate son of Albert and the mother. Albert sued the magazine in France and was adjudicated 50,000 euros damages.

PRIVACY VS. FREEDOM OF PRESS

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) now ruled the sentence against the magazine a violation of the freedom of expression according to Article 10 paragraph 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Although Albert`s privacy is injured in accordance with Article 8 paragraph 1 ECHR. However, a consideration of the two rights would result in a preponderance of the public interest before the protection of privacy in this case.

This arises from the fact that a prince`s child could have potential financial and inheritance consequences for the state and hence there is a general public interest. At the time of the publication Albert hadn`t recognized the child yet, however he could have been legitimized as heir to the throne by marrying the mother. The Prince`s behavior towards the child’s mother was also in public interest, since it gave an insight into the personality of the monarch and his handling of responsibility.

DECISION GERMAN HIGHER REGIONAL COURT

The German courts have already dealt with the case. In 2005, Albert had sued the magazine “Bunte” in Germany, which had published an article with the same images and content. Neither before the District Court nor before the Higher Regional Court he succeeded (Az: 14 U 169/05). Both courts held the public interest more important than the right to privacy.

LEGAL SITUATION IN GERMANY

In Germany for affected people of texted reportings there`s the general right to privacy in Article 2, paragraph 1 in conjunction with Article 1, paragraph 1 of the Basic Law. This law protects various areas of the personality and includes for example the protection of privacy and intimacy, the protection of reputation and honor or the right to informational self-determination. The general personal rights of the affected person must then be weighed up in the individual cases with the legitimate interests of the reporter or public from the fundamental rights of the freedom of press, freedom of expression or freedom of the arts. Depending on which fundamental right prevails in the specific case, the coverage is permitted or prohibited. However, if an untrue statement of fact violates the personal rights of the affected person, the right to privacy has full priority without the need for a trade-off.

For the publication of photos Germany holds the special Art Copyright Act. According to § 22 German Art Copyright Act a photo may in principle not be published or issued without the consent of the person depicted. But an exception is made in accordance with § 23 paragraph 1 point 1 German Art Copyright Act for images of contemporary history. For each individual case it must be determined if the affected person is a so-called person of contemporary history. This can be e.g. politicians, athletes or celebrities. Photos of persons of contemporary history can therefore be published without consent, unless a legitimate interest of the person portrayed is violated.

If you have questions or need assistance in a dispute with regard to an unwanted coverage or published photos, please contact us by phone at 0221-4201074, email under info@rehkatsch.de or make an appointment with our office.