Video: Diaz wins suit

updated 7/26/2005 4:36:49 PM ET 2005-07-26T20:36:49

From topless pictures to sex tapes, celebrities often gain unwanted media exposure. But how entitled is the public to view this material? 

MSNBC-TV’s Lisa Daniels talks with Adriana Gardella, Justice Magazine Associate Editor about celebrity rights. 

LISA DANIELS, 'THE ABRAMS REPORT’ GUEST HOST:  Today a photographer who took topless pictures of Cameron Diaz before she became a star was convicted of forgery, attempted grand threat and perjury stemming from a scheme to sell the photos back to the actress 11 years later for millions of dollars. 

Just last week Colin Farrell was in the news, filing suit against a former girlfriend he says was trying to sell a sex tape he made with her.  Farrell says they own the tape together and they had verbally agreed to keep it between themselves.  These two aren’t the first.  I promise you they won’t be the last celebs to fight over these sometimes damaging, other times career-propelling tapes.  Think Paris Hilton.  But what are their rights? 

ADRIANA GARDELLA, JUSTICE MAGAZINE ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Yes, it’s smart not to make these sort of tapes in the first place. 

DANIELS: But for those of us who have, do you see legally any difference between the Cameron case and the Colin case? 

GARDELLA: Well the primary distinction is that the case Cameron has filed was a criminal lawsuit and Colin’s case is a civil one.  Cameron will be filing — she has a civil case that is going to be coming up related to these same facts in October.  But the successful trial was just a criminal one. 

DANIELS: But in terms of the release, Cameron is saying you know my signature was forged.  Colin is saying — don’t you like it — I am on a first-name basis with these people.  Colin is saying my girlfriend and I made the tape, ex-girlfriend.  We should share the rights to this.  Is there a difference legally between a waiver? 

GARDELLA: The primary difference is again that forgery is a criminal charge.  What Colin is alleging that he and his girlfriend had this verbal agreement, that’s a contractual or civil charge.  He’s also alleging invasion of privacy and some other civil counts.

DANIELS:  So bottom line, does Colin have a case? 

GARDELLA:  He may have a better case if he does what some sources are telling us he may do, which is file an additional claim pursuant to a U.S. Code, Section 2257, which has not been used really in anything other than pornography cases.  But it requires anybody participating in one of these sorts of videos to first get a release and something that shows the age of the person, a government issued I.D. that shows the person’s age.  And it is not intended for this sort of thing, but there is some suspicion that that might be the way to go with these cases in the future. 

DANIELS:  OK, let’s put the legal jargon aside.  Here is the ultimate example for the news you can use segment.  You want to have a sex tape with your boyfriend.  You make one.  Who owns it? 

GARDELLA:  Well what you want to do first of all is make sure that you register the copyright.  That goes a long way toward, you know, if you want to file a lawsuit down the road the first thing you need to do is to have registered your copyright, so that would be the first thing.  And also once you have registered it, that does entitle you to additional statutory damages and attorney fees that you would get if you had not registered it. 

DANIELS:  OK, so you have to go through this formal process...

GARDELLA:  Right.  It’s just a formality.

DANIELS:  ... otherwise you’re going to have a dispute. 

GARDELLA:  Right. 

DANIELS:  All right.  Well I don’t think this is news that most people can use, but in case it is, we were very helpful.

Watch 'The Abrams Report' for more analysis and interviews of the top legal stories each weeknight at 6 p.m. ET on MSNBC-TV.


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