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Supreme Court of Denmark

Lifting of injunction against the Danish Broadcasting Corporation 

Case no. 7/2010
Judgment 12. April 2010

The treatment centre X and others
The Danish Broadcasting Corporation

Lifting of injunction against the Danish Broadcasting Corporation

For use in a news item about the enrolment procedure at a private treatment centre for alcoholics, two journalists from the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR) posed as alcoholics and used a secret camera to film in a car and in and by the treatment centre. This news item was to be broadcast in the news programme "21 Søndag", although the people being filmed had not given their consent. The Probate Court issued an injunction against DR's broadcasting of the news item. The High Court lifted the injunction, after which time the case was brought before the Supreme Court with the permission of the Appeals Permission Board.

The Supreme Court stated that an injunction issued against a news media's publication of film amounted to an infringement of the freedom of speech and information which could only be allowed for compelling reasons, cf. the principles behind S. 77 of the Danish Constitutional Act and Clause 10 of the European Human Rights Convention.
 When weighing regard for the freedom of speech against other factors such as the regard for privacy, it is particularly important to ensure that there are no restrictions hampering the media's reasonable fulfilment of the role as a provider of control and information for the public. For this reason, the fact that publication could amount to an infringement was not sufficient to issue an injunction, unless the infringement was so serious in nature that the regard for the aggrieved party outweighed the regard for the freedom of speech and information. The Supreme Court found that the hidden camera shots from the car, which were part of the news item, were not in contravention of Ss. 264a and 264c of the Danish Penal Code, as these did not feature any persons. After a general assessment, the Supreme Court found that it was not unjustified for the journalists to film the shots in and by the treatment centre for the planned news item. The Supreme Court gave importance to the fact that the shots were filmed for use in a television programme about issues of great public interest. In addition, the Supreme Court gave importance to the facts that the appellants were employed at the treatment centre, that the shots related to their work at the centre, that their faces would be blurred in the programme, that their voices would be distorted, and that they would only be shown briefly in situations that could not be regarded in themselves as being offensive for the people in question. Consequently, broadcasting the news item would not be unjustified. Expected breach of S. 34 of the Danish Media Responsibility Act could not justify an injunction against a programme that had not yet been broadcast. Consequently, the Supreme Court affirmed the High Court's judgment on the lifting of the injunction issued.

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