Spanish magazine Hola! is suing Meta, the parent company of WhatsApp, over the unauthorised distribution of its latest issue, which features coverage of the wedding of Spanish socialites Tamara Preysler and Inigo Onieva in Madrid this month.
The magazine claims that the pirated issue has been circulating on WhatsApp groups, causing significant financial losses to the magazine as it was something everybody wanted to read, and they were not paying for it when they were seeing it on the App.
Tamara Isabel Falco Preysler, aged 41, is the 6th Marchioness of Grinon, a Spanish aristocrat, socialite and television personality who was made famous from shows like MasterChef.
The pirated issue of Hello! featuring her wedding was first shared on WhatsApp on Monday, 11th July. The issue includes exclusive photos and interviews from the marriage, which took place on Saturday, 9th July with a lavish ceremony at the Ritz in central Madrid.
The leak of the latest edition of the popular magazine through WhatsApp groups was via a document in PDF format that went viral at high speed. The magazine claims that the pirated issue has caused a significant drop in sales of the physical issue.
Teresa, owner of a newsstand in the Chueca neighbourhood of Madrid, said: “This Monday, everyone wanted to buy a copy of Hello! Everyone wanted to be the first to have Tamara Falco’s wedding edition. They all sold right away. Today, Tuesday, however, we had already sold less. It is because of that PDF version that was circulating online”
The newspaper, which has exclusive communication rights for the event, not only brought forward its release to Monday, but also increased its print run, and the hack through the instant messaging application caused them serious financial damage.
Hello! is suing Meta for copyright infringement. The magazine is seeking damages for the lost sales and for the damage to its reputation.
Rafael Juristo, lawyer for the magazine Hello! said “We know that it is difficult to trace the origin of the hack. What is serious is the medium through which these illegal copies are being distributed and their scope. In this case, that medium is WhatsApp”
According to Juristo, Hello! is going to file a claim with WhatsApp —and also with Telegram— for copyright infringement by its users.
The lawyer explained: “Either they cancel accounts or stop users who misuse the platform. And if they do nothing, or what they do is insufficient, the claim would be directly against them.”
“We are taking legal action against Meta because they have failed to take adequate steps to prevent the illegal distribution of our content. Meta has the tools to stop this from happening, but they have chosen not to use them.”
Meta, which also owns Facebook and Instagram, has not yet commented on the lawsuit.
The lawsuit by Hello! is a significant development in the fight against copyright infringement on WhatsApp. The outcome of the case could have implications for other media companies that are facing similar problems.