By Dominic Ponsford
The Sun is threatening legal action against the Daily Mail following the lifting of its exclusive Prince Harry Nazi picture.
News International’s legal department is said to be vigorously
pursuing what has been described as a “flagrant breach of copyright”.
picture of Prince Harry, dressed in Nazi uniform filled the Sun ‘s
front page on Thursday 13 January after the paper paid £7,500 for it
from a source at a fancy dress party attended by the 19-year-old royal.
Sun promised Palace press officers it would not syndicate the photo if
Prince Harry would agree to give an exclusive comment, which he did
(although Prince Charles’ press secretary Paddy Harverson later
apologised on behalf of the press office after the comment was also
given to the Daily Mirror).
The Sun sent legal letters to
newspapers and TV stations the night prior to publication warning that
it would only allow rival media to use the Harry picture if the entire
Sun front page was reproduced. It is understood that rival papers were
bidding up to £40,000 for the exclusive UK second-use rights for the
According to one senior industry source, worldwide
syndication fees from the Harry pictures could have fetched in excess
The Daily Mail was the only national to use the
picture on its own, without the restof The Sun front page, although it
did include a credit and the paper’s logo.
International lawyers are currently in discussion with lawyers at
Associated Newspapers over alleged breaches of contract and copyright.
Both sides declined to comment other than to say that the matter is currently in the hands of their respective legal teams.
a similar legal dispute over picture lifting in November, the Mail on
Sunday has agreed an out of court payment with the Sunday Telegraph.
Sunday Telegraph had revealed that then Home Secretary David Blunkett
was alleged to have fast-tracked the immigration visa of his ex-lover’s
The Mail on Sunday followed up the story in its later
edition and also lifted the Sunday Telegraph’s exclusive picture of the
Sunday Telegraph editor Dominic Lawson branded journalists
at the Mail on Sunday as “lazy crooks” after the paper used the picture
Although newspapers regularly lift each
other’s stories with relative impunity, there is no “fair dealing”
copyright defence in the use of news pictures.