Rowling loses privacy court case - but was the outcome wrong?

  August 9, 2007 at 2:51 PM ET
  Geri     HPANA
  jk rowling, jkr, jo rowling

Earlier this week Harry Potter author JK Rowling lostopens in new window a court case in which she sued a UK photography agency seeking to ban the publication of a picture of her son.

Rowling, who filed the action under her married name Murray, was walking with her husband and son, when the picture was taken from a distance with a long lens. The judge in the case stated that celebrities are not guaranteed "a press-free zone for their children in respect of absolutely everything they choose to do."

Now a privacy law expert saysopens in new window that the judge did not take into account that celebrities may be more vulnerable to invasions of privacy than other people.

Mrs Murray and her family are vulnerable to media pressure on their private space. They may be rich; they may be privileged, but nevertheless these people are vulnerable, and I think there is a question of principle there that asks should the law be prepared to give them additional protection because of that vulnerability?

But the photograph of Mr and Mrs Murray and the child is wholly different. They are not street furniture; the photographer took that photograph covertly with a long lens camera specifically to produce information about them and publicise it to the world at large because it was information about them as specific living individuals. That is wholly different to taking a photograph of someone as they happen to be getting on a bus when you don't care who they are and no one else will know.

Ms. Rowling is appealing the decision.


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