Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas have partially won their case against Hello! magazine.
The Hollywood couple sued the celebrity magazine for publishing unauthorised photos of their wedding day, after they had sold exclusive rights to rival OK!
Damages have been awarded to the pair on the issue of commercial confidentiality but their privacy fight has been lost.
Hello! said that the couple had forfeited the right to privacy by selling pictures to OK! and then agreeing to the pictures featuring in other publications around the world.
What do you make of the ruling? Can celebrities expect privacy at the same time as publicising family events?
The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:
This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.
Yes - the judge ruled that there was no invasion of privacy, the Douglas duo lost their primary argument, their stance and attitude has suffered the global humiliation it deserves and it has now been proved that if you sell your wedding photos to a publisher you cannot claim any "privacy" argument when someone else takes some photos.
When you put yourself in the public eye, you have forfeited your right to the privacy you previously held. It doesn't matter if you are running for office, a TV, movie, or music star, or even have done a stupid crime that put you in the news. These people have made a conscious choice to be in the public eye, and they get all of the rights, privileges, and hardships that go along with it.
When you put yourself in the public eye, you have forfeited your right to the privacy you previously held
The Judge did not find that they were people with privacy rights at all. The Judge found that they were a commercial product, and should be treated as such. Hello! infringed the product launch of the wedding. The verdict demeans them as human beings, and is exactly what they asked for. What angers me, really angers me, is that the bill for this will probably be picked up by the tax payer. What a waste of money that instead could have been spent on something a lot better.
Ed Manning, UK
The court ruling was about right. They surrendered privacy when they decided to publish photos. But the rival magazine had no right to publish its ill-gotten gains at the expense (literally) of the couple.
Phil Hall, UK
Well done, Mr and Mrs Douglas. No matter who you are, you should have the right to opt for a private wedding ceremony, or at least to restrict which idiots are permitted into your celebration to snap photos. If actors and actresses are self-cantered greedy sharks, paparazzi are remoras and deserve to get eaten once in awhile.
Joe, USA - Tustin, CA
As an Englishwoman - with a Welsh mother - I was very proud that Zeta Jones won so many awards for Chicago. A brilliant performance in a great film. That aside, I think her action against Hello was complete and utter folly. It's a magazine with a huge circulation and a lot of clout. Catherine - accept your stardom and all that comes with it. You are one very fortunate woman in your success. Enjoy it and stop being a diva.
I think her action against Hello was complete and utter folly
New York, USA
Why not take a leaf out of Johnny Vegas' book and sell your weddding photos for a quid.
If the Jones-Douglas wedding was to have been such a secret, no-press event then why hold it in the most famous hotel in mid-town Manhattan? Surely their homes in Bermuda or Majorca would have been more suitable. I don't get it. The Plaza Hotel and NYC is bustling with media but they chose it in which to hold their wedding. Why? To hit the headlines? Ten years down the road, with her looks and acting roles in decline, Zeta-Jones will be wondering where all the photographers have gone.
James, Westchester, USA
The judge's ruling is right both in spirit and in law. The moment you sign an agreement to commercialise something you are asking for trouble. They've seen this happen before and should have known better. What an appalling waste of money, by everyone.
What an appalling waste of money
Robin Johnston, London, England
Robin Johnston, London, England
First they got money from OK and now they want more from Hello. Her marriage agreement also speaks of her desire for more money. No matter how rich people are, they still need more and sometimes they are willing to go very low to get more.
People, whether celebrities or not, should have the right to privacy. It's simply a matter of respect and appreciation for other human beings. Why violate others wishes, for money and publicity? It's not good karma and it doesn't help create a harmonious, peaceful world.
Bill Crist, USA
The Douglas' livelihoods depend on publicity. I appreciate the need for them to desire a private marriage. That is a completely natural wish. However, to sue for breach of privacy in a realm where no such law exists leaves me with the impression that they either received terrible legal advice or have inflated egos. This whole case has done nothing but to tarnish CZT's public image especially. To put it bluntly, if the Douglas' can live by the sword they can also die by the sword.
They either received terrible legal advice or have inflated egos
Every individual, whether famous or not, has the right to privacy. Just because someone lives in the public eye doesn't give the press carte blanche to write about every aspect of their lives as they see fit. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas made a commercial arrangement for their wedding to appear in OK! magazine. That way they could control the images presented from a very special day in their life. Hello's decision to run unauthorised photographs is in direct violation of that exclusive agreement with OK! They deserved to win.
I think the judge got it about right. Their privacy was not breached but there was some commercial jiggery-pokery by Hello! This was a ridiculous case about an even more ridiculous couple. I hope the judge awards them a fiver!
It is a sad fact of our celebrity-obsessed media that a case like this should take up so many column inches. These people are vulgar, self-satisfied and greedy.
These people are vulgar, self-satisfied and greedy
Andy Devs, England
I am under the impression that a wedding is required by law to be open to the public, so that anyone with a "just cause" to object to the union can do so. I believe that this is a bad ruling, and sets a dangerous precedent. I hope it is sent to appeal.
John Atkins, UK
Greedy, greedy, greedy. Selling wedding pictures because they are too cheap to pay for it themselves and then get miffed at someone invading their privacy. A wedding held in a hotel is not private. Then asking for cash as a wedding gift.
Marie Peck, USA
I agree with the judges comments. The newspapers and magazines must not be allowed to continually invade people's private lives just to make profit. The judge did not go far enough, however the claim for compensation should be upheld as a deterrent to other papers and magazines.
John McCash, Jamaica
There is no such thing as commercial confidentiality when applied to a case like this. The Douglas's were - so they say - having a private wedding, not undertaking a commercial transaction of any kind. I am appalled at the judge's decision and the precedent it has now set. The notion that the Douglas's only sold the photo rights to get privacy is an insult to everyone's intelligence.
Hello magazine would have been the first to complain if OK magazine had done this to them. Everyone has a right to their privacy - especially on their wedding day, and they also have the right to determine what pictures are taken and who publishes them. Unfortunately the British media has been allowed to ride roughshod over personal freedom for the past 40 years and they now think that they are a law unto themselves. I'm pleased that Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas have partially won their case against Hello! magazine. Hopefully a few more cases like this will force the industry to learn some respect - though some how I doubt it¿
I'm pleased that Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas have partially won their case
They may be annoyingly rich. The case may be waste of money. They may be going a bit over the top. BUT the only people who really lost were the Douglas'. They had the stress and pressure whilst the magazines have had months of free publicity. I think hands will be rubbed with glee. If I were them I just would have invited 20/30 photographers and got them to promise to make donations to charity.
Andy Labrow, Manchester, UK
Another example of how our overpaid, over-publicised and overrated stars have lost touch with reality. Perhaps the press should consider an embargo on further coverage of this clearly deluded couple.
Iain Catto, UK
For a couple worth several millions of pounds to cynically sell pictures of their wedding day to the highest bidder and then complain of an invasion of privacy is absolutely ridiculous.
Just like any public figure, celebrities should have a lower expectation of privacy. These celebrities enjoy the wealth, success and media attention when it's to their benefit, but when it's unflattering, or in Jones' case unprofitable, they cry and scream foul. As they say in Hollywood, 'no publicity is bad publicity' and their decision to sue Hello! was definitely motivated by their contractual obligations and definitely more publicity. That's why they get the big bucks, because of their permanent loss of privacy.
Celebrities should have a lower expectation of privacy
I can totally see why Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas are angry. I can also see why they sued Hello! magazine. A wedding is a private affair, but as celebrities Catherine and Michael knew they had to let the public see their day. So they did. To ONE magazine. Ok! paid an awful amount of money to get exclusive pictures, not Hello! so it's not fair that Hello! got pictures too and printed them. If OK magazine had any sense they would sue Hello too.
Alison , UK
If they were really that worried about privacy they would not have sold the rights to OK Magazine in the first place, would they?
At times such as these with so many images of pain and suffering in the world, the Douglases would instantly create overwhelming respect and warmth if they were to donate all their damages to those Iraqis injured by the coalition military forces. Let us hope that they do this as they surely do not need the money.
I think it's the right verdict. Yes, they trade on their celebrity, but so what? It's the public who watch their films and make them into celebrities. If there was no market for these pictures, they wouldn't be able to sell them for ?1million. If they want to sell them, let them decide who gets the pictures. I know for sure that if someone came in off the street and took photos of me without my permission, I'd be extremely angry, even if I was only going to put mine in a family album.
If they want to sell them, let them decide who gets the pictures
Sean Young, UK
Whilst I agree that they had forfeited the right to privacy, I have no sympathy for Hello! magazine - at the end of the day they produced shoddy work and made themselves look really sad and cheap - they should have got over the fact they lost out to OK! and found something else to focus on, keeping their dignity and quality. What a waste of their time!
The tabloid newspapers and their equally over-zealous paparazzi photographers are the scourge of modern celebrities. In the 'cut-throat' world of tabloid exclusives where nothing is sacred and everything is fair game, I can understand the motivation behind Hello!'s action. Clearly, the Douglases feel (and quite rightly too) that they have to make an example out of Hello! and I am glad they won. Courting publicity does not give the tabloids an automatic right to harass these celebrities - as cynical as we might think their actions are. But it must also be borne in mind that although tabloids go too far, their relationship with celebrities is often mutually beneficial.
Celebrities have a simple choice; privacy, or the wealth and trappings of the showbiz lifestyle. Once someone chooses to pursue the latter the former is relinquished. A celebrity who courts publicity and expects the general public to pay for it basically gives the press free rein, and rightly so. The freedom of the press is a valued commodity which should not be stifled.
The Douglases had no choice really but to sue Hello!, but it throws up a whole heap of questions - where do you draw the line between courting publicity and press intrusion? Why have the public become so obsessed with the lives of the rich and famous? And how do we know when questioned under oath that actors and actresses are not performing? They make their whole careers from acting out extreme emotions. The court case will always overshadow their wedding, which should be memorable for all the right reasons. This one will just be remembered for all the money spent - before and after.
The court case will always overshadow their wedding, which should be memorable for all the right reasons
Kristy, Devon, UK
Celebrities think they can pick and choose when they get media attention to suit them. In the real world it doesn't work like that and they should shut up or change careers.
Andrew Hill, UK
This whole episode has been ridiculous. If they have really taken Hello! to court, because they felt that their privacy was infringed upon (not to mention the violation they experienced - poor loves) and not solely because they were after any monetary gain, surely they will be sending their "winnings" to charity?
I'm not sure either party comes out with much credit - any claim of invasion of privacy after opening the wedding up to a magazine is unconvincing. There is a strong whiff of celebrities seeking to protect their power and commercial interests, whilst Hello! tried to obtain shots via the back door after they failed to win in commercial bidding.
You marry someone because you love them and you want the world to know, both the magazines helped the world to know, the couple should be pleased. This has nothing to do with invasion of privacy, if it was they wouldn't have sold the pictures to anyone.
Good on them, and I'm glad they won. It was a total infringement on their privacy. Hello! had no right to be there, let alone sneak in and take photos and then publish them. If they had lost, then it would mean that all agreements between stars and magazines would be pointless.
I'm glad they won. It was a total infringement on their privacy
Why do celebrities spend months or years trying to gain publicity and then, when they achieve it and earn lots of money, try to avoid it?
If they can demean the sanctity of marriage to turn it into a lucrative showbiz extravaganza, they get no sympathy from me. Even the trial and attendant publicity have given them loads more high-profile publicity that Max Clifford would charge a fortune for - even if he could hire a venue as high-profile as the High Court. If the couple want the privacy they talk about, retire immediately to a cottage in south Wales and give us all a rest!
Andrew Longman, UK
I'm glad they won. I am sick and tired of the fact that the media feels they can do (or photo) anyone they like anytime they like, even at private events. Maybe now that the precedent has been set, more cases like this can go forward.
David M Brown, UK
Big celebrities are seeking to control their press more and more now. I don't think they should be able to. Personally, I don't care if Liz Hurley has cellulite or Zeta Jones looks greedy scoffing her wedding cake, but they climbed the greasy pole of celebrity by exploiting every excruciating opportunity to be photographed and talked about. We don't hear cries of protest from lesser celebs who still crave the publicity. Why should the A-list be able to exert control now that they have 'made it'?
David Cobern, UK
Can anyone stop photographers from photographing them in public? If you choose a job where you have to wear a tie - you wear a tie. If you are lucky enough to become a celebrity you have to put up with the media. It's a simple choice in life of which path you take and the responsibilities and problems these paths create. I think they should grow up and shut up.
If you are lucky enough to become a celebrity you have to put up with the media
Andy, Lancashire, England
Andy, Lancashire, England
I think it's disgusting. They are in the public eye and a wedding is a public ceremony - what's the problem?
The ruling against Hello! was just and fair. However, I hope the courts set the compensation at a nominal level and order the Douglases to pay all the legal costs involved for bringing such a ridiculous case in the first place.
I think they're lost in their own little world. Does anyone really give a stuff about what picture featured in what magazine?
Dave B, UK
Celebrities can do what they like. They are the new gods of the Western world.
Eddie Shaw-Smith, UK
What I find interesting about these sorts of cases is that when a celeb starts out in life they want EVERYONE to take their picture and put them in every magazine, but as soon as they make it big, they don't want ANY pictures taken and published - claiming that their 'right to privacy' has been violated. The villains, they claim, are the very people that helped get them to the top!
The villains are the very people that helped get them to the top!
Matthew Robinson, England
Matthew Robinson, England
I think stars do have a right to privacy even if they have publicised their family events. Michael and Catherine gave their fans a slice of their wedding, but on their terms which is completely fine. Can a magazine stalk a couple? Yes. Look at the way Hello! have put their faces over their front covers since this case started. A magazine can taunt and the media will have to seriously re-think their attitude from this day forward.
Neil Peter Henley, Petts Wood, Kent UK
The fact that they sold photos for financial gain was incentive enough to get others interested to try and get illicit photos. They should have followed Zoe Ball's example, posed for the press and then asked for privacy. These people are in the limelight to make their money.
You may not like the couple or what they did, but they rightly have the freedom to sell their own wedding pictures to whoever they choose.
I'd take half their paparazzi for half their money. What's a few photos?? If you want a private and quiet life - don't search for fame.
A sensible judgement since privacy is hard to justify when you are already inviting the public (through OK!) into your wedding. Hopefully this will provide a warning to all areas of the media that a paid-for exclusive should be exclusive. Can't help feeling that the real victor here is OK! magazine though.
Phil Eadie, UK
I think this is justified. It is every bride's right to vet the photos shown to the public... most of us have a wedding album done by a professional. I don't show people the ones of me with red eyes, or looking exhausted at the end of the reception, why should a magazine (that is making money of the back of them) show unauthorised pictures? Being a public figure doesn't make you public property.
It is every bride's right to vet photos shown to the public
They entered the public eye of their own free will, they cannot choose when and where that eye will look at them, especially as weddings by the very law that governs them are a public event with anyone allowed to enter and object to it.
Colin Wing, England
If it wasn't about money, can we expect an announcement shortly that they will be donating all damages and proceeds from the photos to charity?
The court ruling was fair. There was privacy intrusion. Zeta Jones described this as making her feel "devastated" and "violated". However these words seem more appropriate to describe how a victim of real barbarity might feel (ie rape victim, or wartime refugee). If I were marrying someone I loved with all my heart I doubt that anything could completely ruin my happiness as this pair claimed.
I definitely don't make my money based on my looks, but I know I shudder every time I see more pictures of my wedding taken by my friends or family, where I feel the angle just isn't right, or the lighting, or anything that I feel doesn't make me look the way I do in the professional ones. I can understand their anger to be honest with you - and yes I did marry someone I love with all my heart, but it doesn't stop me worrying about how I look!
Jennifer, Netherlands, ex-UK
Is that Kylie Minogue's mother in the background of your picture?