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07 febbraio 2008

What’s the right amount of damages? Personality rights French style…

Fabio Angelini

A French court ordered airline Ryanair on tuesday to pay damages to French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his (new) wife Carla Bruni for using their picture (without any authorization) in an advertisement. The advertisement showed a cartoon bubble above Bruni, the scion of an Italian industrial dynasty, reading: "With Ryanair, my whole family can come to my wedding".

Ms. Bruni, had been seeking damages of 500,000 euros, arguing that it was the average amount she would make for a photo session. Ryanair had admitted the advertisement was ”facetious” and had offered to make a 5,000 euros donation to charity but its lawyers argued that as a high profile couple, Mr. Sarkozy and Ms. Bruni had to accept inconvenient attention.

The Court, did not agree with either argument and ordered Ryanair to pay symbolic damages of one euro to Mr. Sarkozy (who had requested it) and 60,000 euro to Ms.Bruni. Sense of fairness, if nothing else, should have told Ryanair that if it wanted to piggyback on famous people for an ad, it would have, sooner or later to pay a price.

However, I would like to understand how the Court arrived at 60,000. Perhaps the Court considered that photo sessions are often brutally boring even for experienced models, and thus there was a substantial difference between the compensation a top model makes for these events and simple use of someone’s (even a famous model) picture (not taken in the context of a photo session). Still, considering the noise that Ryanair’s had generated, I believe that after all Ryanair came out rather well…. Time to consider punitive damages even in Europe?

1 commento:

Birgit ha detto...

Good point regarding the introduction of punitive damages. Some recent German case law concering press publications has based damages for non-pecuniary loss on "punitive" ideas, but obviously without endorsing the idea of punitive damages generally. There is some movement in this field though.