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If Only You Were Me

Train 48
Mag wins appeal over Zeta-Jones photos
Associated Press


LONDON -- A British court on Wednesday overturned a ruling ordering celebrity magazine Hello! to pay more than $3.6 million US to a rival for printing unauthorized photos of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Three Court of Appeal judges backed Hello's challenge to a lower court's order that it pay more than $1.8 million US in damages and another $1.8 million in legal costs to rival magazine OK!, which had an exclusive contract with the Hollywood couple to cover their New York wedding.

But the judges upheld the high court's 2003 ruling that Hello! had breached the couple's commercial confidentiality by publishing secretly snapped photos of their November 2000 wedding.

Douglas and Zeta-Jones had signed an exclusive deal with OK! for rights to pictures of the nuptials at New York's Plaza Hotel.

During a dramatic six-week hearing in 2003, Zeta-Jones said she had felt "violated'' when Hello! published its "sleazy and unflattering'' pictures.

She singled out an image that showed Douglas feeding her wedding cake, saying "I don't usually like my husband shoving a spoon down my throat to be photographed.''

In its appeal, Hello! argued that it had run its own wedding pictures as a "spoiler'' to its rival's coverage -- a common practice in journalism.

Hello!'s lawyer, Chris Hutchings, said Wednesday's ruling was "a resounding win for Hello!''

Northern and Shell, which owns OK!, said it would appeal the ruling.

"This decision will impact all publishers with exclusive rights, as it means rivals will be free to run spoilers with no redress in law,'' the company said in a statement.

© The Canadian Press 2005

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