The Press Compaints Commission (PCC) have found in favour of the men’s magazine ‘Loaded’ over the use of photos of a 15 year old which had been uploaded to social networking site Bebo.
The woman complained to the PCC on the basis that the photos invaded her privacy and were published without her permission. However the PCC determined that the photos did not invade her privacy because whilst the original source of the pictures was her Bebo profile they had since appeared all over the internet, it was from these alternative sources that the magazine had taken the photos.
According to their ruling:
“The magazine had not taken the material from the complainant’s Bebo site; rather it had published a piece commenting on something that had widespread circulation online (having been taken from the Bebo page sometime ago by others) and was easily accessed by Google searches… It was not a matter of dispute that images of the complainant had been freely available for some time (having been originally posted in 2006) or that she had been identified online as the person in the pictures”.
The PCC then went on to emphasise with the complainant on the basis that the photos were of her and her friends taken in a social context and had since been used as ‘pin-up’ material. However: “The magazine had not accessed material from a personal site and then been responsible for an especially salacious means of presenting it; instead it had published a piece discussing the fact that this material was already being widely used in this way by others.”
It was the PCC’s view that it would not be fair to order the magazine not to use the material that had been in such qide circulation. “The test … was whether the publication intruded into the complainant’s privacy, and the Code required the Commission to have regard to ‘the extent to which material is already in the public domain’… In the Commission’s view, the information, in the same form as published in the magazine, was widely available to such an extent that its republication did not raise a breach of the Code. The complaint was not upheld on that basis.”