Zeta-Jones, Douglas win modest sum over photos. Hello! magazine will have to cough up $1.7 million to competitor OK! but only $24,000 to the Douglases

By Gary Susman
Updated November 07, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST
Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones
Credit: Michael Douglas and wife Catherine Zeta-Jones : © Michel/NewsCom

Back in February, when Catherine Zeta-Jones was testifying in the suit she and Michael Douglas filed against Hello! magazine for printing unauthorized photos of their wedding, she insisted the case was about principle and hurt feelings, not money. Which is good, since the London High Court ruled Friday that the couple are entitled to just $24,250 in damages, Reuters reports.

On the stand, the ”Chicago” star said that the $1.67 million deal the couple had signed with OK! magazine for exclusive rights to photograph the 2000 wedding in order to prevent other magazines from running the kind of ”cheap and tacky” photos that Hello! ran, not for the money, which she said was ”not that much for us.” In April, Judge John Lindsay ruled that Hello! had violated the couple’s commercial confidence. In fact, in the settlement ruling he issued on Friday, he ruled that Hello! should pay OK! $1.7 million. (OK! had sued for $2.8 million). However, he awarded the Douglases only a fraction of the $835,000 they were seeking for their claims of emotional distress and violation of their right to privacy. He awarded them just $12,450 for their distress, $11,600 for the cost of rushing their authorized photos to OK! to beat Hello!’s scoop, and $170 for the breach of England’s Data Protection Act, the Associated Press reports.

The Douglases said in a statement, via their lawyer, that they were pleased with the decision, AP reports. OK! called the decision ”historic.” In a statement, Hello! objected to the size of the award to OK!, calling it ”not only anticompetitive, but also a restraint on freedom of expression.” However, the magazine was pleased with the minimal sum it was ordered to pay the Douglases, saying, ”It reiterates clearly the decision of Mr. Justice John Lindsay that Hello! at no time had any intention of damaging Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.”