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Brazil's Supreme Court Decides Unanimously to Allow Unauthorized Biographies

06/11/2015 - 08h59

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MÁRCIO FALCÃO
FROM BRASÍLIA

The Brazilian Supreme Court decided unanimously on Wednesday (10) to permit the publication of unauthorized biographies.

The Court's nine judges ruled unconstitutional the application of two articles from the Civil Code, according to which the publication of biographies for commercial purposes may be prohibited unless prior authorization is obtained from the person concerned, or their family members if they are dead.

The Court decided that this amounted to censorship, incompatible with the Brazilian Constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression.

The judges recognized that complex or divisive cases could be discussed in the courts following publication, as existing legislation already allows for measures such as compensation and the right to respond.

The debate on unauthorized biographies has been running for years, with some artists and politicians expressing resistance to having their lives exposed without their permission.

In 2012, the National Association of Publishers (Anel) questioned in the Supreme Court the legality of the prohibition on the use of someone's image or other forms of coverage "unless authorized", alongside the principle that "the private life of an individual is inviolable".

The judge Cármen Lúcia ruled that the right to liberty of expression should not be secondary to the right to privacy of public figures, with the judges strongly criticizing the authorization requirement.

Translated by TOM GATEHOUSE

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