News overrides privacy

The Scottish criminal appeal court has allowed the BBC access to photographs taken of a child by the mother who was later convicted of his murder. In doing so the court rejected her claims for copyright infringement and privacy. Although the claimant owned the copyright the BBC had a defence to infringement as it was only intending to use the photographs to report the trial. In balancing the claimant’s right to privacy under the European Convention on Human Rights and the BBC’s right to freedom of expression, the court allowed the BBC to access all but one of the photographs. The photographs showed the child as healthy and apparently happy; no questions of indecency or shock to members of the public arose. There was no reason why the photographs could not be broadcast or published to illustrate the tragedy associated with his death with the one exception being a photo with the child with his grandmother, where her right to privacy took precedence.

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