Constitutional Court continues to place limits on the sensationalist media
In 2005, three television programs, “Aquí hay tomate”, “TNT” and “Salsa Rosa” showed private scenes and commented on the relationship between Gonzalo Miró and Eugenia Martínez de Irujo. The images were clandestinely captured while they were in a haima in Morrocco and inside a disco.
The Constitutional Court has set aside a judgment in which the Supreme Court ruled that the broadcasting of the images was lawful under the right to information, concluding that although they are “public figures”, the capturing and broadcasting of the images on the programs was solely intended to show private scenes, therefore being unlawful and in breach of their rights to privacy and right of publicity.
The judgment also states that the publication of the photographs is not protected by the right to information, as they lack public interest. In line with European Court of Human Rights case law, the Constitutional Court held that the right to information can only be invoked when the content of the images contributes a debate in the interests of the general public and that mere curiosity about a person’s private life cannot be considered to contribute in such a way. This conclusion is not affected by a person’s public image, even in the case of images captured in a place that is open to the general public.
The most important consequence of the judgment is that the person is not under the obligation to create specific protection of his/her image, whereas others do have a duty to respect the fundamental right of publicity when it relates to another’s private life. In other words, unless the information is of public interest, the media is responsible for obtaining a person’s express consent to capture and reproduce his/her image, however famous such person may be.
With its judgment, the Constitutional Court continues to restrict the sensationalist media, in line with other similar rulings, such as the one given in 2013, which held that the right to information does not protect speculation as to the filiation of a public figure.
Garrigues Intellectual Property Law Department