Well, that didn’t take long. Those topless sunbathing pics of Kate Middleton only went up a few days ago, and a French court has already slapped the offending tabloid around a little. A judge has sided with the royals and ordered Closer to fork over the pics and a little bit of cash for causing everyone the trouble.

Thank goodness privacy and a sense of old-world decorum have been restored. Except not quite, owing to this little thing called the internet…

According to Bloomberg, Judge Jean-Michel Hayat ordered Closer Magazine to pay Kate Middleton 2,000 euros in expenses and an additional 10,000 euros each day it fails to turn over the original images.

That’s not necessarily too much money, but the ruling is definitely the legal shot heard ’round the world, as far as the family’s struggle for privacy is concerned.

(After Judge Hayat handed down the ruling, he concluded by saying, “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go download some, uuh, limited edition art from the internet before the, err, special offer expires…”)

But the big question people are asking is: was pursuing legal action over the pictures worth the effort? The basic answer seems to be yes… and no… (kerpow!) On one level, it’s a warning shot to the paparazzi: the royals won’t tolerate this kind of tomfoolery, lest another Princess Diana-scale tragedy become a possibility.

On another level, well, the photos are out there for good:

“Clearly, the harm has been done,” said Christopher Mesnooh, an American lawyer working in France for Field Fisher Waterhouse. “Thousands, now tens of thousands of copies, are now in public circulation. A legal decision is a wonderful thing to obtain and the royal couple did exactly what they should have done. But you know the magazine is out there and I suspect most of you have already seen copies of that magazine, so the basic, the initial harm, has been done.”

The damage has been done? Really? It’s just boobs, people. And super low-res ones at that. I mean, you can hear President Obama say all kinds of offensive stuff (reading a book, but still), and he’s doin’ all right. Bill Clinton got a beej from a 22-year-old intern in the Oval Office, and people still love him. So, Kate, you’ll be fine.

But seriously, it’s the royal family. How in hell do they have any expectation of privacy? Then again, this tidbit actually makes sense. Middleton wasn’t exactly hanging out topless at Baker Beach:

The duchess, Kate, and her husband Prince William had an expectation of privacy because the photos were taken during their vacation and they were “surrounded by gardens and several hundred meters from a public road,” Judge Jean-Michel Hayat said in the ruling today in Nanterre, France.

Well, that explains the photos’ graininess. Can you say telephoto?

Topless photos ruling: 1st battle in privacy war [Associated Press]
U.K. Royal Family Wins French Ruling on Kate Photos [Bloomberg]

Earlier: Potential Lawsuit of the Day: The Royals Are Enraged Over Topless Pics of Kate Middleton


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