Time Inc., of course, owns People magazine, which paid a reported $4 million for the right to be the first on this side of the Atlantic to publish photos of the world's most famous week-old person. People's Shiloh issue hits newsstands Friday -- at a $3.99 cover price instead of the usual $3.49. (People often raises the price for special issues; the May 8 100 Most Beautiful issue also sold for $3.99.)
Unfortunately for People, territorial restrictions have turned out to mean a little less than in the good old days, as Britain's Hello magazine won Shiloh photo rights of its own. Worse, by Tuesday, an image of a Hello cover showing the baby was all over the Web, on sites including Gawker, PerezHilton, Pink is the New Blog, Dlisted, Jossip and Mollygood. That issue of Hello is not due to hit newsstands until tomorrow, June 8.
The response was immediate. Time Inc. demanded the sites take the photos down, and almost every one complied.
"Lawyers for Time Inc. and People forced us to take down the image of Hello magazine with Shiloh Nouvel on the cover," a post on Jossip read. "We guess because they paid like a gillion dollars for that baby's face." (A Time Inc. insider noted that the reported $4 million figure was too high but wouldn't give the right figure.)
David Hauslaib, editor and publisher, Jossip, told Watercooler that fighting wasn't worth it. "Jossip doesn't publish our blogs to piss off copyright holders; we publish our titles to entertain and inform our readers," he said. "By now, the Hello mag cover can be found all over the Web, so it doesn't seem worth the battle with Getty or Time Inc. Reporting on that battle, of course, is still entertaining."
But one Web site rebelled: Gawker.
"Gawker's posting of the Hello magazine cover with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt is an infringements [sic] of Time Inc.'s exclusive rights to that photograph," a Time Inc. deputy general counsel wrote, according to Gawker, which posted the letter exchange.
Gawker Media general manager Lockhart Steele wrote back: "As part of Gawker's ongoing coverage of the media industry, we're firm in our right to report on Hello's treatment of the story, one of the biggest celebrity media news stories of the year." Gawker posted the Hello cover again today. Mr. Steele declined to elaborate on the correspondence posted on the site.
As for Hello, the magazine said it had no idea how the picture was leaked and that it, too, is pursuing legal action against Web sites around the world. "It is very difficult to control the Web, and this proves how rampantly out of control it is," said Juliet Herd, features editor, according to a Reuters report.