Court Rules Against Celebrity Gossip Magazine’s Right to Publish Wedding Photos

The decision on copyright law could have ripple effects through the celebrity gossip industry


TVNotas, a Spanish-language magazine focused on celebrity gossip, broke copyright law when it published the photos of a singer's secret wedding in Las Vegas, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that Maya Magazines, the publisher of TVNotas, had no right under copyright law to print photos of the 2007 wedding of pop singer Noelia Monge to her producer, Jorge Reynoso, according to court documents obtained by TheWrap.

A paparazzo named Oscar Viquiera allegedly received $1,500 from Maya for a memory disk containing 400 photos and three videos of the couple.

Maya eventually culled through and selected five photos for its photo exposé of the wedding, which the couple hoped to keep secret. They hadn't even told family members.

"Out of all of the possible photos that Maya could have selected from the disk," the documents said, "Maya chose those five because they told the story of the couple's clandestine nuptials in Las Vegas."

The two-to-one decision found that, because the Monge and Reynoso owned the photos and Viquiera had no right to sell them, Maya's exposé was not protected under the oft-cited fair use clause, as their gossip journalism is for commercial and not education enterprise. 

Judge Milan D. Smith Jr., the dissenting voice in the decision, wrote that the ruling undermines journalistic freedoms. 

"To satisfy a celebrity couple's desire to control their public images, the majority extends inappropriate case law to undercut the fair use doctrine and the free press," he wrote.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.