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Sun Girl : Court fixes Friday for judgment in N525m copyright case

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Sun Girl : Court fixes Friday for judgment in N525m copyright case

A Federal High Court in Lagos has set Friday, November 18 as the date to deliver judgment in a suit seeking N525 million damages against Daily Sun Newspaper for the alleged illegal use of a photograph on 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 on 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, the plaintiff’s 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 an 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 on 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”, she said.

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 defense, 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 stands 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 every day with completed forms and pictures seeking the publication.

The defendant averred that it had no personal transaction nor sought any benefit on account of the publication of the plaintiff’s picture with another name and number without her consent.

Defendant avers that 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 the plaintiff in the Daily Sun of Thursday, July 28th of 2016”.

The defendant avered 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 an investigation into the case, it suspected the 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 said, urging the court to dismiss the suit for lacking in merit.

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