Public vs Private – Chi & Closer Magazine

On Monday, September 17th Italian Magazine Chi published pictures of a top-less Kate Middleton while she was sunbathing on a family owned private balcony. The pictures, already published by sister magazine Closer, have been a topic of debate specifically asking the question as to where the line should be drawn for public figures and their privacy.

The parent company of Chi and Closer Magazine, Mondadori Magazines France was ordered on Tuesday to return the photos to the couple and that the magazine cease publication of the pictures. The company was also required to pay a small fee to the couple with larger, additional fees to be paid each day until the pictures are returned.

Unfortunately with the new era of media convergence, where magazines post both online and in traditional print, the photographs cannot be completely returned. This is mainly because people have saved these images to their computers and phones or purchased the magazine from store shelves.

Another aspect is the fine which is minimal (a little less than $3,000) compared to the increased publicity the magazine receives from the images. This provides little incentive for following the law and does little to deter the magazine from producing future images of the couple or other celebrity figures.

Overall this story begs the question, between what is considered private when looking at public figures and where is the line drawn between the public’s “want to know” versus “need to know.” Roland Martin in a CNN interview with Brooke Baldwin had this to say:

“Over decades now, we have become accustomed to the crazed antics of the paparazzi invading the personal space of celebrities. … Our culture not only has accepted it, we revel in it. Seriously, do you think all of those celebrity magazines and websites with photos of stars walking to the store to get coffee lose money? No. We live in the age of voyeurism, and the long lenses of the paparazzi satisfy our insatiable desire for the garbage.”

“It would be great if celebs could be themselves. And it’s terrible that folks can’t drop the pretenses and have dinner with friends without thinking someone has a phone video camera on them and is capturing private remarks. But that world left us long ago, and it’s not coming back.”

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