Court rules baby photos a negative

Elle Todd

The European Court of Human Rights has issued its judgment in the case of Reklos and Davourlis v. Greece, holding that the taking of photographs of new-born children in hospital without the consent of their parents amounts to a violation of Article 8 of the ECHR.

The application was lodged by the parents of a child born in 1997 in a private clinic in Athens who had been placed in a sterile unit. As part of (an odd) photography service, two photographs of the baby were taken by a professional photographer. The parents naturally objected to this intrusion into the sterile environment without their prior consent. Following the clinic’s refusal to hand over the negatives of the photographs to them, the parents initiated unsuccessful civil proceedings against the hospital. The Greek Court of Cassation subsequently dismissed the appeal on points of law on the ground that it was too vague (not much of a surprise for lawyers in Greece according to our sources!).

In the most interesting part of its judgment, in relation to art. 8, the ECHR held that effective protection of the right to control one’s image presupposed obtaining the consent of the person concerned when the picture was being taken and not just when it came to publication. The consent of the child’s parents had not been sought at any point, not even with regard to the keeping of the negatives, to which they objected. The Court noted that the negatives could have been used at a later date against the wishes of those concerned and found for the applicants.

This case inevitably provides a useful analogy for future celebrity v paparrazzi cases…

Thanks go to Nikos Prentoulis of Athens for drawing this to Datonomy’s attention.

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