A Federal High Court in Lagos will on Nov. 16 deliver judgment in a suit seeking N525 million damages against Daily Sun Newspaper for alleged illegal use of a photograph in its Sun Girl page.
The suit was filed against the Newspaper by a student, Akinyemi Temitope who alleged that the medium published her photograph in the newspaper’s May 25, 2016 edition on its ‘Sun Girl’ page without her prior permission.
The date for the judgment was communicated to the parties by the court presided over by Justice Awogboro Olawunmi of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi
Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that her photograph with the name ‘Sadiyat’ and a telephone number 09057312447 was published in the dating ‘Sun Girl’ page and the publication had caused her embarrassment and emotional trauma.
In the suit filed by her lawyer, Mr Rockson Igelige, the plaintiff contended that the publication constituted an infringement of the copyright of her photograph and a violation of her right to privacy.
She said the publication also caused her embarrassment, portrayed her as a deceitful person and a flirt and consequently led to a break up with her boyfriend.
“The publication with the name Sadiyat and a different mobile number painted Plaintiff as a person who had been concealing her real identity from people, or who led double lives one of which was flirtatious, devious, calculating, immoral and unenviable.
“Following the said publication of her photograph by the Defendant in the newspaper, Plaintiffs boyfriend stopped answering her calls.
“She made several efforts to explain to him that she had not sent the photograph to the Defendant, nor authorized anyone to do so on her behalf, but all efforts to convince him otherwise proved abortive
“Her prospects of finding a suitable partner in the near future or within her prime years may have also been dampened.
The plaintiff alleged that when her lawyer wrote to the defendant demanding on May 26, 2016 demanding apology and compensation, within seven days of the publication, it contemptuously ignored and failed to respond to her solicitor’s letter.
“Instead on July 28, 2016 the Defendant published an apology in page 6 of The Daily Sun newspaper wherein the Defendant acknowledged that the publication of the photograph on May 25, 2016 was done in error,””
The plaintiff urged the court to declare that the unauthorized use of her photograph by the Defendant for its commercial benefit without her consent is an infringement of her right and injurious to her person.
She urged the court to award against the defendant N300 million as general damages, N200 million as special damages for the violation of her moral right and N25 million aggravated and punitive damages for the unlawful infringement of her right.
In its statement of defence, the defendant said the Sun Girl page is not a commercial project and is it not derogatory in any way as it is the girl who had featured therein that stand to gain and make benefits.
The defendant said it has no need to publish the picture of any person on the said page of its newspaper without her consent, since there are numerous adult girls that line up everyday with completed forms and pictures seeking the publication
The defendant averred that it had no personal transaction nor seeking any benefit on account of publication of plaintiff’s pictures with another name and number without her consent.
“Defendant aver that and in furtherance of its show of decency and innocence in the entire publication and without even awaiting Commission, immediately issued a retraction and apology to plaintiff in the Daily Sun of Thursday July 28th of 2016..
“This showed that it did not deliberately make the said publication since the publication met with the condition of an executed consent as shown in the form bearing Sadiyat’
The defendant said upon launching investigation into the case, it suspected complicity of the plaintiff, her close friend and
a web developer in its Information and Technology (IT) Department in the publication
The investigation, according to the defendant also revealed that “the plaintiff is not a student of Delta State Polytechnic Ozoro as claimed and neither did she receive numerous calls from all over the world on account of the subject of this suit.
“Plaintiff’s averments concerning her boyfriend are fabricated lies and not true”.
The defendant urged the court to dismiss the suit for lacking in merit.