The Court dismissed star-chiropractor’s claim against Katrin Lust

Triniti

We represented Katrin Lust in a dispute involving chiropractor Allan Oolo pertaining to an episode of the television show “Kuuuurija” which covered Allan Gary Oolo’s activities.

Chiropractor, well-known showman and singer Allan Gary Oolo filed a claim against Katrin Lust, demanding a public retraction of the statements made in the episode. Oolo also wanted compensation from Lust. Oolo’s claim to the court was that Katrin Lust had violated his copyright by using Oolo’s videos, and Oolo also sought for Lust to acknowledge Allan Gary Oolo as a physician. Among other things, the “Kuuuurija” episode discussed how Oolo had never actually studied to become a doctor and that he simply started using the title of “Dr”.

The District Court dismissed Oolo’s claim in its entirety.

The District Court’s judgment is significant for multiple reasons.

Firstly, the court analysed whether and, if yes, in what way a journalist is permitted to use another person’s works, be these photographs, videos or works of design. The court notes that such a right to free use, i.e. one which does not require an author’s consent or the payment of any fees to the author, is not the sole monopoly of news shows, but any journalist can rely on this right when reporting on current topics. Of course, the condition here is that the works of other people are used to the extent necessary for informing and that such use does not dominate over other content. The second significant aspect of the District Court’s judgment, which was more than 40 pages long, is its finding that where an interviewee asserts certain claims to the journalist and the journalist has no reason to doubt the validity of such claims, the journalist is allowed to publish the source’s statements.

Thirdly, as in many other media-related disputes, this case also saw a discussion of statements that were never actually published. From a legal perspective, the Supreme Court has deemed such occurrences “indirect factual statements”, i.e. something that was the point of the episode in context and as a whole.  We argued, using Katrin Lust’s own words, that: “I am convinced that neither the court or the claimant ought to put words in a journalist’s mouth.” The court indeed found that “Kuuuurija” did not publish factual statements in a wording which would correspond to the wording used by the claimant in their retraction claim.

Lastly, although the court’s judgment is still based on the old Personal Data Protection Act effective before the coming into force of the General Data Protection Regulation, it is worth noting the court’s conclusion, in which it states that where persons have previously published photographs, statements and other information about themselves, journalists are permitted to use such publicly available data.

The dispute continues in Tallinn Circuit Court of Appeal in 2020.