Friday flourishings

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Right: The Scribe Cat (by Appaloosa)

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From the IPKat's friend Thorsten Lauterbach (Lecturer in Law, Aberdeen Business School) comes news of a ruling handed down by the German Bundesgerichtshof on 14 October on the publication of photographs of Princess Caroline bon Hannover and her husband Ernst August.

Left: in an attempt to evade the attentions of the paparazzi, Princess Caroline and Ernst August have taken to wearing a variety of disguises. Here they pose incognito in their highly-successful walrus suits ...

It seems that the much-publicised couple complained of the publication of their photographs in various magazines in articles concerning the then life-threatening illness of Ernst August (inflammation of the pancreas), allegations of his intake of alcohol as a reason for the illness and the time taken to recover. These were illustrated with older pictures (showing the couples with drinks in their hands, or with bottles of alcoholic beverages in their vicinity), plus in one instance a more recent photo. The publishers asked to have rulings in favour of the couple in all lower instances set aside, but the Federal Court of Justice sided with the noble couple. The court reiterated the need to embark on a balancing act between the interests in and rights of privacy of the individuals and the freedom of the press/expression of the publishers, based on the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. Since the couple's interest in their own privacy is paramount and there is no countervailing reason for the public to know this information, the intrusion into the right of the couple in their own image is "verboten". It did not matter that Ernst August had given interviews on his ill health in a couple of instances previous to or shortly after the publication of the photos -- this could not justify the intrusion into the general right to protect the personality/privacy of the persons on the photographs. Says Thorsten, this decision arguably strengthens the rights of individuals vis-à-vis publications of photographs in Germany.
Friday flourishings Friday flourishings Reviewed by Jeremy on Friday, October 24, 2008 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. Re the German Supreme Court Case on Princess Caroline and the paparazzi - these are actually four (!) different cases, not just one, that were appealed up to the BGH. To be fair it was not really just about "taking photos" per se but about the fact that personal information about a person's health are private matters that should not just be dragged into the public without proper consent. As it was, no consent was given and their personality rights had to be given precedence over freedom of expression/press.

    While I agree with Thorsten that the "decision arguably strengthens the rights of individuals vis-à-vis publications of photographs in Germany" you should perhaps add " cases of where the photo is used to illustrate personal matters such as the state of health of the person depicted".

    I am still full of doubt as to whether the the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights in its own famous Caroline decision did the German court's earlier precedents any justice.

    PS: When you click on the link that takes you to the Bundesgerichtshofs official press release, you will also see a fine example of court's 'Germanic' and understated sense of humour. It says: "Bundesgerichtshof entscheidet erneut über die Veröffentlichung von Bildern von Caroline Prinzessin von Hannover und Ernst August Prinz von Hannover". In English: The Federal Supreme Court *again* decides on the publication of images of Caroline Princess of Hanover and Ernst August Prince of Hanover" and then gives the a very long list of decisions with the references of the lower courts' eight (!) earlier decisions ...


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