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Ponzetti de Balbín v. Editorial Atlantida S.A.

Closed Contracts Expression

Key Details

  • Mode of Expression
    Press / Newspapers
  • Date of Decision
    December 11, 1984
  • Outcome
    Monetary Damages / Fines
  • Case Number
    Fallos: 306:1892
  • Region & Country
    Argentina, Latin-America and Caribbean
  • Judicial Body
    Supreme (court of final appeal)
  • Type of Law
    Civil Law
  • Themes
    Privacy, Data Protection and Retention
  • Tags
    Public Officials, Public Interest, Right to Information, Privacy

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Case Analysis

Case Summary and Outcome

The Supreme Court of Argentina held that the publication of photographs by a magazine of a renowned political figure violated his right to private life. Renowned politician Ricardo Balbín’s son brought a lawsuit against the publisher and owner of the magazine, Gente y la actualidad, after it published an issue featuring on its cover a photograph of Balbín that was taken while he lay on his deathbed in a hospital. The Court explained that even public figures have the right to keep certain aspects of their lives private, and that publishing these photographs did not serve the public, because the news of Balbín’s death could have been provided to the public without them.


Facts

The widow and son of renowned political figure, Ricardo Balbín, brought a lawsuit against the publisher and owner of the magazine, Gente y la actualidad, after it published an issue featuring on its cover a photograph of Balbín that was taken while he lay on his deathbed in a hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.


Decision Overview

This case holds the distinction of having been one of the first to reach the Supreme Court of Argentina on the issue of the dichotomy between the rights to privacy and freedom of expression and the social right to information.

The Court rooted its holding in the belief that even public figures have the right to keep certain aspects of their lives private and, therefore, determined that the publication of these photographs went beyond the right to information. The Court reasoned that publishing these photographs did not provide a social service, because the news of Balbín’s death could have been provided to the public without them. The Court found that the publication caused immense suffering to the family and conflicted with the undeniably private character of the moment captured.


Decision Direction

Quick Info

Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.

Contracts Expression

This decision from the Supreme Court of Argentina threatens freedom of expression and information. Considering the public interest that surrounds the lives of public figures, this holding marked a step backward for the protections usually granted to the distribution of this type of information.

Global Perspective

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Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.

Table of Authorities

Related International and/or regional laws

  • ACHR, art. 11
  • ACHR, art. 13

National standards, law or jurisprudence

  • Arg., Const. Nac. Article 14
  • Arg., Const. Nac. Article 19
  • Arg., Const. Nac. Article 32
  • Arg., Civil Code art. 1071
  • Arg., Sup., Calcagno (a) Caiki s/inf. art. 244 del Código Penal, Fallos: 169: 195 (1967)

Other national standards, law or jurisprudence

  • Fr., Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789)
  • U.S., Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)
  • U.S., Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969)
  • U.S., Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919)
  • U.S., Frohwerk v. United States, 249 U.S. 204 (1919)
  • U.S., Debs v. United States, 249 U.S. 211 (1919)
  • U.S., Abrams v. United States, 250 U.S. 616 (1919)
  • U.S., Dennis v. United States, 341 U.S. 494 (1951)
  • U.S., Noto v. United States, 367 U.S. 290 (1961)
  • U.S., New York Times Co. v. United States (Pentagon Papers), 403 U.S. 713 (1971)
  • U.S., Martin v. Struthers, 319 U.S. 141 (1943)
  • U.S., Schaefer v. United States, 251 U.S. 466 (1920)
  • U.S., Pierce v. United States, 252 U.S. 239 (1920)
  • U.S., Herndon v. Lowry, 301 U.S. 242 (1937)
  • U.S., Yates v. United States, 354 U.S. 298 (1957)
  • U.S., Bond v. Floyd, 385 U.S. 116 (1966)
  • U.S., Hess v. Indiana, 414 U.S. 105 (1973)
  • U.S., Konigsberg v. State Bar of California, 366 U.S. 36 (1961)
  • U.S., Speiser v. Randall, 357 U.S. 513 (1958)
  • U.S., Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965)
  • U.S., Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1925)
  • U.S., Wieman v. Updegraff, 344 U.S. 183 (1952)
  • U.S., Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616 (1886)
  • U.S., Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961)
  • U.S., Poe v. Ullman, 367 U.S. 497 (1961)
  • U.S., Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319 (1937)
  • U.S., Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438 (1928)
  • U.S., Time, Inc. v. Hill, 385 U.S. 374 (1967)

Case Significance

Quick Info

Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.

The decision establishes a binding or persuasive precedent within its jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court of Argentina decides cases on an individual basis, and its case law does not create binding precedents. However, the Court is the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution, and, as such, its decisions are highly persuasive.

The decision was cited in:

Official Case Documents

Official Case Documents:


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