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Gossip magazine's celebrity wedding photos broke law, court says

August 14, 2012 |  3:26 pm

A federal appeals court decided Tuesday that a gossip magazine violated copyright law by publishing photographs of a secret celebrity wedding.

A panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2 to 1 that Maya Magazines, publisher of “TVNotas,” a Spanish-language magazine about celebrities, had no legal right to publish the photographs of the 2007 Las Vegas wedding of Noelia Monge, a pop singer and model, to Jorge Reynosa, a music producer and her manager.

The court said the couple wished to keep their marriage secret and had not even told family members about it. An employee of the couple sold the photographs in 2009 without the couple’s permission, and the magazine broke the story of the marriage and published some of the pictures.

“Maya’s use negatively affected both the potential and actual markets for the couple’s photos,” Judge M. Margaret McKeown, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, wrote for the majority. “Simply because the works were yet unpublished did not give Maya a license to pull the trigger and blow the couple’s cover.”

In a dissent, Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. complained the ruling “thwarts the public interests of copyright by allowing newsworthy public figures to control their images in the press.”

“Under the majority’s analysis,” wrote Smith, an appointee of President George W. Bush, “public figures could invoke copyright protection to prevent the media’s disclosure of any embarrassing or incriminating works by claiming that such images were intended only for private use.”

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-- Maura Dolan

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