It is common knowledge that fame and fortune has its price. So, what about the privacy protection of ordinary people? As a rule, pictures of persons (with the exception of ordered portraits) can be used freely to a certain extent. The Supreme Court in the Netherlands has previously ruled that also ordinary people are entitled to protection, if they are being depicted for commercial purposes, as can be concluded from its decision in the IT’s Disco dancer case. The audience might think that the person in question authorized the use of the picture and/or supports the campaign. This protection is often in conflict with the corporate freedom of speech. The question which of the two prevails is being considered in the Schiphol Picture case.
Volkskrant, a well-known Dutch daily newspaper, displays on front page a picture of an unknown person, easily recognizable, in a car carrying the following headline “Is Schiphol still safe?”. The article is about increased security checks on the airport due to recent terrorism threat levels, and has nothing to do with the background of the person depicted. The person in the picture does not want to be seen as associated with terrorism and demands a rectification. Finally, the Court has to decide which interest has to prevail. The headline and picture do not support the story in the article. Besides, the picture does not support or improve public debate. Therefore, the reasonable interest of the person depicted outweighs the freedom of press of the newspaper. The picture is considered an infringement of the person’s privacy, and damages are awarded to the amount of € 1500,-. (Photo: de Volkskrant- Guus Dubbelman)
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