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French Courts Rule Magazine Must Hand Over Kate’s Topless Pictures

A French court gave the royal family a victory in its fight against the topless pictures of Prince William’s wife, Kate Middleton, ordering the magazine to hand over all digital copies of the photos within 24 hours.

The decision, which called the pictures a “brutal display,” says the French magazine Closer must pay a fine of $13,100 for every day it fails to hand over the pictures, and the magazine can no longer disseminate them.

It is a largely symbolic victory, since pictures that get out in the digital world can really never be removed and since two other publications have published them in Ireland and Italy and the ruling has no effect on them. But the lawyers for the royal family surely were aware of this, and sought to send a message to future publishers and paparazzi about how they should treat the royal family.

Montedori Magazines France, Closer’s publisher, also faces a €2,000 ($2,600) fine for the 14 pictures of Kate published on Friday.

“These snapshots which showed the intimacy of a couple, partially naked on the terrace of a private home, surrounded by a park several hundred meters from a public road, and being able to legitimately assume that they are protected from passers-by, are by nature particularly intrusive,” the French ruling decreed. “(They) were thus subjected to this brutal display the moment the cover appeared.”

The photos show Kate relaxing at a private villa in Provence, in southern France, sometimes without her bikini top and, in one case, her suit bottom partially pulled down to apply sunscreen.

The lawyer for Montedori did not appear at the courthouse on Tuesday.

St. James Palace, the royal’s spokespersons, said the family would also pursue criminal action against the paparazzi who shot the photos.

Christopher Mesnooh, an American lawyer who works in Paris, told the Associated Press that French law strongly protects privacy rights but tabloids have their own reasons for publication, even when they might be in violation of the law.

“It appears to give satisfaction entirely to the royal couple,” Mesnooh said of Tuesday’s ruling. “The problem with this kind of decision is the horse got out of the barn a long time ago.”

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