18 April 2008

Law ‘Can’t Protect Online Video’

A judge has allowed the News of the World to put a sex video back up on its website after ruling that it would be a “futile gesture” to stop it.

In a decision that could have a significant impact upon future legal cases, Mr Justice David Eady said the video clip was so widely available across the internet that it would be pointless to stop the newspaper from hosting it.

The court action was brought against the newspaper by the film’s subject - Formula One chief Max Mosley - who claims that its publication is a breach of his privacy.

Press Gazette reports that the judge saw the 90-second video, which shows Mosley engaged in sexual activities with five prostitutes, before making his ruling.

Mr Justice Eady said: “I have, with some reluctance, come to the conclusion that, although this material is intrusive and demeaning, and despite the fact that there is no legitimate public interest in its further publication, the granting of an order against this respondent at the present juncture would merely be a futile gesture.”

He added that since the video has been copied many times and viewed almost 1.5 million times, “the dam has effectively burst”.

“Anyone who wishes to access the footage can easily do so, and there is no point in barring the News of the World from showing what is already available.”

He concluded that in practical terms there is “no longer anything which the law can protect”.

The News of the World voluntarily removed the video following a complaint from Mosley’s solicitors.

It has now been put back up, along with a statement about the case from the newspaper’s legal manager.

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