This may serve as warning to Internet news sites.
A court in Tokyo ruled on 15 June that Yahoo Japan Corporation and a national daily, the Sankei Shimbun, pay the damages for publishing a photo of a suicide victim in handcuffs after his death.
The Tokyo District Court ordered the two companies to compensate the widow of Kazuyoshi Miura the sum of 660,000 yen (US$8,200) for publicizing the 1985 photo of him in iron rings accompanied by the Japanese police over the Los Angeles killings, The Mainichi Daily News stated.
Presiding Judge Shigeo Matsunami said, "The photo of him in handcuffs infringes on his wife's affection and respect for her deceased husband beyond tolerable limits."
Miura's wife, Kazumi, sued the companies because the controversial photo that theSankei Shimbun published and later uploaded by Yahoo! Japan caused her mental distress.
The ruling said, "There is no need to carry a picture of Miura in handcuffs from over 20 years ago, and the case constitutes an illegal act."
The report said this is the first time the Internet-based company has been ordered to pay for the damages for publishing an image that was circulated by a daily.
Yahoo! Japan argued that it has no liability because Sankei Shimbun guaranteed that it will not infringe on third party rights, which the court disagreed, "Yahoo failed to perform its duties not to publish a photo that infringes on someone's personal interests."
Miura, a former president of an import company, was acquitted in 2003 in Japan for the deadly 1981 shooting of his wife in Los Angeles. In October 2008, he committed suicide in a Los Angeles prison, Yomiuri Shimbun said.
An attorney specializing in Web-based lawsuits said, "This is an extremely rare case in that a site operator was held legally liable for carrying an article and a photo provided by a newspaper company.
"In the United States, a site operator would not be held responsible in such a case unless it had malicious intentions, but there is no such legal structure in Japan. It therefore cannot be helped that a site operator be deemed to share its fate with a contributing newspaper company."
Details of this report here.