The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has spoken out about the implications of last week?s legal ruling concerning unauthorised publication of Catherine Zeta Jones? wedding photographs.

OK! magazine partially won an appeal when Law Lords ruled that Hello! magazine breached OK!?s confidentially by publishing images from Zeta Jones? wedding to Michael Douglas in 2000.

OK! had paid £1m to secure the rights to exclusive coverage of the event but Hello! published unauthorised pictures – thereby spoiling the deal.

Speaking at the House of Lords appeal, Lord Hoffmann ruled that the exclusive contract gave OK! an ?obligation of confidence? over all photos of the wedding and that the magazine was entitled to expect that those attending would not breach these rights.

Speaking exclusively to Amateur Photographer magazine, Pete Jenkins the NUJ?s vice-chair of the Photographers Sub-Committee said: ?While there is a certain entertainment value to seeing two specialist paparazzi titles squabbling over images, we mustn?t forget that photographers are the creators here and we do not want them to lose out as a result of this judgement.?

Jenkins added: ?No-one wants to see legislation which will give individuals the right to dictate what images can or cannot be taken in a public place.

?But, at the same time, individuals in private dwellings, functions and places should have the security of knowing that their personal lives cannot be intruded upon by sensation-seeking journalists ? the caveat being except where this information is of the utmost public interest.?

Jenkins asserts, however, that many observers will view the case as creating ?murky waters? and raise questions as to why one photographer/magazine can take someone?s picture, while another cannot.

?If this is a paid-for magazine feature then clearly the couple have a right to control (to a degree) what images are taken, but if this is seen as a news event ? which one can argue they made it into – then just as evidently they could be seen to have forfeited that right of editorial control.?

In an interview with the BBC last week publicist Max Clifford said: ?This establishes the principle that celebrities can sell the exclusive rights to their wedding or other event, safe in the knowledge that they no longer need to spend a fortune on security or surveillance in case someone slips in with a hidden camera.?

Formed 100 years ago, the NUJ fights for the working rights, pay and professional freedom of its 35,000 members, many of whom are photographers.

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