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'Sunday Times' is sued over diaries copyright

THE Sunday Times is to be sued for damages for alleged breach of copyright over its serialisation of the diaries of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda chief. A writ was issued in the High Court yesterday, taken out by solicitors acting for Francois Genoud, the Swiss businessman and Nazi sympathiser, who holds the copyright on behalf of the Goebbels family.

Guy Martin, a solicitor with the firm Peter Carter-Ruck, which represents Mr Genoud, said yesterday: 'Proceedings have been issued . . . for copyright infringement against Times Newspapers Limited over the serialisation of the diaries of the late Dr Goebbels. M Genoud is seeking an injunction and damages, to include additional statutory damages.'

The solicitors sent a letter to the Sunday Times lawyers at the end of last week, reminding them that Mr Genoud held the copyright and the newspaper could not publish anything from the diaries without his authorisation.

Mr Genoud is seeking not just damages for the alleged copyright breach, but additional damages on the grounds that the paper published knowing it was unlawful because they had been warned prior to publication.

Andrew Neil, editor of the Sunday Times, previously told the Independent on Sunday that the newspaper would not pay Mr Genoud anything because of his alleged Nazi sympathies. However, if Mr Genoud had been paid money by David Irving, the Hitler sympathiser who took the Goebbels diaries to the Sunday Times, that was his affair.

Mr Irving told the Independent he had been negotiating with Mr Genoud and recently increased his offer to pounds 25,000 but this was apparently not enough. However, he insisted the offer was not a copyright fee but because 'I wanted Genoud to have something as he is an old friend and I didn't want him to feel deprived'.

Mr Genoud's claim to the copyright has been established in courts in other countries including Germany, but not in England.

However, last week the Daily Mail paid a copyright fee of about pounds 17,230 to Mr Genoud to serialise extracts from other copies of Goebbels' diaries from the archives at the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich.

Mr Genoud said other foreign publications which have bought the serialisation rights from the Sunday Times would also have to pay. He said the German newspaper Der Spiegel had agreed to pay a copyright fee and he expected others including Japanese, French and Italian publications to agree.