Judge orders press to pay damages to Polanski 

A Paris judge ordered three French publications Tuesday to pay damages to Roman Polanski and his family for printing unauthorized photos — but the sums were a fraction of what the filmmaker had demanded.

Polanski and his wife had sued two French newspapers and two French magazines for a total of about euro150,000 ($217,215), complaining the publications ran photos that invaded their privacy. With most of the decisions in, they have so far been awarded euro12,500.

Many of the photographs at issue depicted Polanski, his wife or children in or near the Swiss Alpine chalet where he has been under house arrest since early December, awaiting word on whether he will be extradited to the United States on a 32-year-old sex case.

In one decision Tuesday, a judge ruled that the respected Le Journal du Dimanche weekly newspaper must pay Polanski euro3,000 for a December 2009 photo showing the "Chinatown" and "Rosemary's Baby" director looking out through a slit in the curtains of the chalet. He had asked for euro10,000.

Christophe Bigot, the paper's lawyer, said he planned to appeal. He said the photo was "a pertinent illustration" of Polanski under house arrest, which he called "a case that has received media coverage around the world."

Polanski's lawyer did not immediately return a call seeking a comment.

Invasion of privacy suits by celebrities are common in France, Polanski's permanent residence and the country in which he lived for three decades before he was arrested in September en route to a Swiss film festival.

Polanski, arrested on a U.S. warrant, spent more than 60 days in a Swiss jail before being transferred to house arrest in his Swiss vacation home Dec. 4.

The French judge also ordered VSD celebrity magazine to pay euro5,500 to the Polanski family for a photo spread that included pictures of his wife and two children at an airport. VSD had blurred the children's faces to make them unrecognizable, as minors are especially protected under French press law. The magazine's lawyer did not return a call seeking comment.

Another celebrity magazine, Voici, was ordered to pay euro1,000 for a photo of Polanski's wife, actress-singer Emmanuelle Seigner, walking down a street in Switzerland.

Voici lawyer Olivier d'Antin called the photo "harmless" and said the decision was "regrettable for press freedom." He said he is still awaiting a decision on three other photos printed by the magazine.

Last week, Le Parisien newspaper was ordered to pay 3,000 ($4,300) in damages to the Polanskis.

In Polanski's U.S. sex case, the director was initially accused of raping a 13-year-old girl after plying her with champagne and a Quaalude pill during a 1977 modeling shoot. He was indicted on six felony counts, including rape by use of drugs, child molestation and sodomy, but he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of unlawful sexual intercourse.

He fled to his native France on the eve of sentencing in 1978 after spending 42 days a California prison for a psychiatric evaluation.

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