MADRID – The civil division of Spain’s highest court has ruled topless celebrity photos are fair game for tabloids and other news and information outlets.
Audiencia Nacional de España overturned a lower court’s 2003 decision that Interviú magazine violated the privacy and publicity rights of former Miss España María Reyes when it published a topless photo of the young woman on its cover.
According to the court, celebrities’ public actions are “legitimate news.”
“A public figure who exposes themselves to public view in a public place must accept that this can be photographed and published without their permission even if they don’t like the result, always assuming that this is of news interest to the media outlet’s socially-accepted demographic,” the court held.
The decision also noted that “enjoying the beach without a bikini top” — as Reyes was in the cover photo, snapped surreptitiously on the island of Ibiza — is an “accepted social custom.” Consequently, “a photographic image of someone captured in this state without their permssion cannot be illegal, nor would it be if they were captured otherwise dressed on the beach or photographed in everyday clothing.” The legality of publishing celebrity photographs “does not depend on whether the subject is wearing a bikini top or not.”
The court’s ruling is seen by Spanish celebrities as a blow. Many depend upon tabloids to prop up their status and public image, but traditionally the celebs have enjoyed an informal right to control how they are portrayed. In the current case, Reyes will not be allowed to collect the 30,000 euros the lower court ordered Interviú to pay her.
According to Britain’s The Register, “Spaniards have a voracious appetite for [z-list personalities who are famous for being famous] and a press more than willing to feed the hunger.”