ITN, Britain's independent television network, which broadcast the recent exclusive interview with the prince and princess of Wales, has sued Time Inc., charging a violation of a copyright over the reproduction of photos from the interviews in the Nov. 4 issue of People.
The copyright is owned by the Prince of Wales Charities Trust, the beneficiary of all profits from related sales of that program.
The suit, filed in New York last Friday, charges that copyrighted material from the interview, specifically text and photographs, was unlawfully reproduced in the Nov. 4 issue of People. ITN is asking that all remaining copies of People be destroyed. The suit also asks for damages.
Asked if the suit will not in fact attract more attention to the Nov. 4 People issue, ITN's lawyer, Edward Cohen, said, "The more profit People makes, the greater our damages."
An attorney for People said last week that a photographer for the magazine had taken photographs of a television broadcast of the interview. The attorney, Robin Bierstedt, also said that People's use of material from the interview is "fair use under the copyright laws." Fair use is a statutory provision that permits the reproduction of copyrighted materials under certain circumstances.
"We feel that we had a copyright for the text and pictures and that taking the photographs off the video is a violation of that copyright," said Cohen, who is representing ITN in the United States.
"We think what People did goes well outside the bounds of fair use because of the extent of the quotations . . . there are three pages of quotations from the interview."
ITN last week was granted a temporary high-order injunction preventing the distribution of the magazine in Great Britain. At the time that the injunction was granted, Bierstedt said that the magazines had aleady been distributed.
The interview was considered a major coup for ITN, which has sold the American rights to a book about it to Simon and Schuster. It was the first time since before their wedding that Charles and Diana had been interviewed together about their public image, their family life, and many of the rumors that plague them.
The interview has also been sold for broadcast in Australia, the Netherlands, West Germany and the United States, where ABC will air it Thursday.
All profits from the sales are slated for the charity, which seems to be the motivation for the suit.
Bierstedt last week insisted that since People's photographs "are not very good pictures," Simon and Schuster, ABC and the other firms could not be threatened by their publication.
"They were not bad photographs, they were wonderful photographs," said Cohen.