Hello! magazine may have to say goodbye to up to $800,000 in damages for publishing unauthorized wedding photos of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. London’s High Court announced its verdict on Friday in the couple’s lawsuit against Hello!, which had sent paparazzi to crash the power couple’s nuptials and had run photos of the event that the actors found unflattering. Since the couple had sold photo rights to OK!, a rival publication, High Court Judge John Lindsay ruled that Hello! had breached the Douglases’ ”commercial confidence” and was liable for damages that would be determined later.
The Oscar-winning couple had sought 500,000 pounds for what they termed a violation of their privacy. Hello! argued in court that, by selling the rights in the first place, they had made the lavish November 2000 wedding into a public event. In fact, Lindsay rejected the couple’s privacy claim, ruling instead that Hello!’s actions were akin to stealing a trade secret.
Zeta-Jones had testified in court that Hello!’s photos looked ”cheap and tacky,” seemed to be lit with ”bad disco lighting,” and made her look fat. In order to have photos that looked the way the couple wanted, Douglas said they had sold the rights to OK for 1 million pounds, in an effort to scoop the paparazzi. When Hello!’s lawyer said that made the couple seem more interested in money than privacy, Zeta-Jones said the rights fee ”is a lot of money maybe to a lot of people in this room, but it is not that much for us.”