Sexy super MILF. Fairfax has been ordered to pay $10,001 in compensatory damages to private eye Frank Monte, after publishing a photo of his partner, Sharon Sargeant, “posed on a bed and semi naked from the waist up”.

The photo was published as part of a highly critical July 2013 article on Monte by investigative journalist Kate McClymont about how the “liar, cheat and unlicensed private investigator … is again using aliases to scam unsuspecting clients”. Monte wasn’t suing for defamation but for breach of copyright, as the photo The Sydney Morning Herald used to illustrate the article was taken by him for Sargeant’s professional escort service.

As the photo had been widely published online and was a promotional picture rather than one sold for direct profit, Fairfax argued it shouldn’t have to pay large damages. Monte on the other hand argued the photos were for private use only — a claim Judge Rolf Driver of the Federal Circuit Court disputed. However, he did accept that Sargeant had a right to control how the photos were used. “A person wishing to use her services can no doubt find information about them by searching on the internet. It is quite another thing to have a promotional photograph relating to an escort service published in the mass media,” he said in the judgment. For Fairfax, the use of the photo was intended to increase readership, and for Monte and Sargeant would have been highly embarrassing. Thus, the judge was inclined to award additional damages.

He settled on $10,001, not including costs, which will be decided at a later date.

Meanwhile, Driver’s judgement notes that Sargeant describes herself on Twitter as a “sexy super MILF”. Readers unaware of the acronym can read its meaning here. It appears to have come up in court, with Driver writing that while the meaning of the acronym was known to him, “somewhat surprisingly, I had to explain to counsel for Mr Monte”. — Myriam Robin. 

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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