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Posted on Fri, Jan. 23, 2004

Mag Must Pay Bulk of Zeta-Jones Legal Fees

Associated Press

A High Court judge ruled Friday that a celebrity magazine that published unauthorized wedding photos of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones must pay the bulk of the couple's legal costs.

Judge John Lindsay ruled in April that Hello! magazine's use of unauthorized pictures taken secretly at the November 2000 wedding was a breach of commercial confidentiality.

In November, Lindsay awarded $26,000 in damages to the couple and just over $1.8 million to OK!, a rival magazine that had paid $1.8 million for exclusive rights to pictures of the wedding.

On Friday, Lindsay said Hello! must additionally pay 75 percent of the costs of the first hearing and 85 percent of the costs of the damages hearing. The claimants estimated the total costs at about $7.4 million.

Both sides have been granted permission to appeal aspects of the judgment.

Hello! lawyer Christopher Hutchings said the magazine would seek to overturn the ruling that it violated the couple's commercial confidence. Zeta-Jones and Douglas won the right to appeal Lindsay's ruling that publication of the photos did not infringe their privacy.

Hello! ran pictures smuggled out of the lavish wedding at New York's Plaza Hotel, attended by stars including Sean Connery, Sharon Stone, Jack Nicholson, Steven Spielberg and Anthony Hopkins.

Zeta-Jones testified during the six-week case last year that she felt "violated" by the magazine's "sleazy and unflattering" pictures. She singled out an image that showed her new husband feeding her wedding cake, saying "I don't usually like my husband shoving a spoon down my throat to be photographed.

"The quality was what every bride would hate to have out there," she said before a packed courtroom in February. "It was cheap and tacky and everything I didn't want."

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