Heidi Klum: No damages for topless photos – high damages payments avoided
[Berlin, ] A team, headed by GÖRG’s Dr Oliver Spieker and including Michael Alber, was able to successfully defend the publishing group Webedia Deutschland against Heidi Klum’s action before the Hamburg Regional Court for damages in a large amount in connection with the publication of topless photos of her.
Until recently, the glamour and people magazine “Purestars” was one of the online portals operated by Webedia GmbH at www.purestars.de. It publishes news about stars from film and television as well as the music and fashion industries, and also publishes information about current trends and interviews. At the beginning of 2015, Webedia GmbH published a report on the platform about a vacation that Ms Klum had spent in St. Barts, which contained photos of a scantily-clad Ms Klum.
Ms Klum, thereupon, demanded an out-of-court payment of €30,000 from Webedia Deutschland GmbH, together with reimbursement of her legal costs, as well as Webedia Deutschland GmbH’s agreement to cease and desist from further publication. Webedia Deutschland GmbH rejected Ms Klum’s demand for an out-of-court financial settlement, pointing out that she herself had published revealing images of herself. This led Ms Klum (represented by Christian-Oliver Mose of the law firm IRLE MOSER) to claim – this time only – €15,000 in a lawsuit before the division of the Hamburg Regional Court specialised in litigation involving the protection of rights of personality. GÖRG defended Webedia Deutschland GmbH by presenting carefully researched indications (for instance, based on Ms Klum’s social media accounts) of her liberal attitude to her nudity in public.
The Hamburg Regional Court, thereupon, recommended to Ms Klum prior to the oral hearing that she withdraw her claim and settle out of court. The settlement then only included the parties’ agreement to bear their own costs and Webedia Deutschland GmbH’s waiver of repayment of part of an amount that it had paid Ms Klum for her legal fees in connection with the cease-and-desist undertaking that it had given without any admission of liability. Webedia Deutschland GmbH had given an undertaking to cease and desist from publication – without any admission of liability. It did not, however, see any justification for monetary compensation since such compensation is predicated on a certain level of seriousness in respect of the violation of personality rights and this was absent here due to Heidi Klum’s proven liberalness.
GÖRG regularly advises on disputes concerning conflicts between privacy and publicity rights of individuals and businesses (press law), both in- and out-of-court. In particular, Dr Oliver Spieker and Mr Michael Alber also regularly advise companies in relation to imminent disputes involving privacy/press law.
Webedia Deutschland is the publisher of leading entertainment brands such as Filmstarts, Moviepilot, GameStar, GamePro and IGN. Webedia Deutschland attracts about 10 million unique users with its brands and 300 million video views through its YouTube network agency allyance network each month. As a publisher on diverse entertainment themes, the Group’s expertise extends to brand solutions, brand services, productions and e-commerce. In addition to traditional media formats and bespoke cross-media campaigns, Webedia also offers social and brand publishing solutions as well as creative event and marketing concepts outside its own media reach. Webedia Deutschland belongs to the Webedia Group – France’s largest digital entertainment publisher – that was founded in 2007. Worldwide Webedia reaches over 90 million unique users each month.
Counsel for Webedia Deutschland GmbH
GÖRG Partnerschaft von Rechtsanwälten mbB, Berlin
Dr Oliver Spieker, partner
Michael Alber, associated partner
Counsel for Heidi Klum
Irle Moser Rechtsanwälte PartG
Christian-Oliver Moser, partner
Benjamin von Allwörden, associate