from the how-do-you-say-streisand-in-british? dept
At about the very same time, reporters at the NY-based Observer noted that one of the team's players, Christian Fuchs, not only won the title, but also had purchased a nice new townhome in Manhattan. Again, this is a public record, and it is not uncommon for the news to report home purchases of celebrities. But, for some reason, Fuchs flipped out about this and had a lawyer threaten the Observer -- or, rather, directly threaten the reporter who wrote the story:
The letter, written by Michael Yates, an associate of big UK media law firm Lee & Thompson, was sent not to me or to Ms. Halberg’s editor but to Ms. Halberg herself, presumably to heighten its intimidation value. Hilariously, it cites the Fuchs’ rights under “Article 8 rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.” And it even plays the “you’re harming the precious Fuchs children” card.Article 8, in case you're wondering, is sort of a similar thing to the 4th Amendment in the US. It's designed to stop unwarranted searches of homes, though its rather odd and broad wording of protecting "private and family life" has led some -- apparently including Fuchs' lawyer Michael Yates -- to believe that it also applies to "stuff my family wants to keep private."
“The Information and Photographs constitute private information belonging to our clients, as well as belonging to their two young children, which you have published without their consent.” The letter helpfully advises the Observer, under a section headed “URGENT NEXT STEPS” (Mr. Yates suppressed the British penchant for understatement by deploying all caps, bold, and underlining): “immediately remove your article containing the Information and the Photographs and confirm that you will not publish the same again in the future.”
The letter continues, “My clients have not even told their own children about the purchase of this property, which is another indication of how private it is. In any event, English case law makes it expressly clear that children are afforded a higher degree of protection under the law of privacy than adults. Publishing details and photographs of exactly where our clients’ children reside is not only a breach of that privacy, but it is plainly a security risk causing our clients very grave concern.”
But, the idea it applies to public records about home purchases in the United States is ludicrous. And, thankfully, the Observer gets that:
We’re not removing shit.They also sent back the following letter to Yates, noting that it was approved by their lawyer, who happens to be British:
Dear Mr. Yates:He, of course, doesn't get into the details of why the threat is ridiculous, but the key point, as we've discussed in the past, is that here in the US we have the SPEECH Act, which is tremendously useful in stopping those outside the US from attempting to censor protected speech within the US. That law was designed exactly for situations like this, where someone outside the US is pointing to foreign laws to try to silence what is clearly protected speech by an American publication. Even if Fuchs could win some sort of judgment in the UK, or elsewhere in Europe, it would be totally unenforceable inside the US.
It is no longer well known that British control of New York City didn’t end until the very last days of the Revolutionary War in 1783. Since then, however, we Americans no longer take orders from you, or from your entitled, swaggering clients. We congratulate Mr. Fuchs on his club’s amazing success this year. But we won’t be adding “intimidating a website into unpublishing protected speech” to his list of victories.
We shall also be publishing a follow-up story noting that you’ve threatened our reporter with your jerkoff language: “We strongly urge you not to underestimate our clients resolve in pursuing this matter.” According to our lawyer, no American court will order any form of damages to be awarded by this surreptitious attempt at colonialism by lawfare. I shall be in London in a couple weeks, in case you need to alert the authorities.
Meanwhile, you allude to the matter being so private that even the footballer’s children have not been told yet. While we congratulate the Fuchs children on being Observer readers, we cannot help but wonder if the real irritant here is that Mr. Fuchs’ employer and teammates found out about his purchase from reading the Observer.
Sincerely, Ken Kurson
And, of course, the very act of threatening the reporter and trying to remove the content has, as per usual, done the exact opposite and drawn much more attention to it. You would think, by now, lawyers would recognize how this plays out. It's not like it's a new concept or anything.