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Judge Dismisses Spears Libel Suit

LOS ANGELES – A judge has dismissed a libel suit brought by Britney Spears accusing Us Weekly magazine of fabricating a story about a sexually explicit video the pop star and her husband made together.

In a decision made public on Monday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lisa Hart Cole found no basis for Spears to prevail on her claim that the magazine article about her was defamatory.

The suit, filed last year by Spears and her spouse, dancer Kevin Federline, sought $10 million in damages against Us Weekly over the article, which appeared in the publication’s “HOTstuff” column in October 2005, about a month after Spears gave birth to her first child.

Us Weekly said it stood by its account, which ran with the headline: “Brit & Kev: Secret Sex Tape? New parents have a new worry: racy footage from 2004.”

According to the article, the celebrity couple had told their lawyers that “a member of their entourage had threatened to release raunchy footage” of them and that Spears feared that “an X-rated tape starring the two may go public.” The magazine also reported that Spears and Federline gave a copy of the tape to lawyers and watched it with them.

“The article is libelous on its face, since it maliciously and recklessly portrays (Spears) as acting ‘goofy’ while watching” the video with their attorneys, the suit said.

The judge disagreed.

“It is clear that plaintiff did not bring this lawsuit because she was falsely accused of acting goofy,” Hart Cole wrote. “The issue is whether it is defamatory to state that a husband and wife taped themselves engaging in consensual sex.”

The judge went on to conclude that Spears has “put her modern sexuality squarely, and profitably, before the public eye” in a way that would make it unlikely for the magazine article to be found defamatory.

The judge cited Spears’ 2005 television reality show “Britney & Kevin: Chaotic,” which chronicled her courtship and marriage to Federline based largely on home videos shot by the pop star.

The judge noted that the series included scenes of Spears filming Federline naked in a shower, Spears interviewing Federline during a night-time bus ride while she was naked, and “otherwise catching plaintiff talking uninhibitedly about her sex life.”

Both Spears’ publicist and her lawyer, Gary Stiffelman, declined comment on the judge’s ruling.

Spears, 24, has sold more than 60 million albums since she shot to fame with her 1999 debut, “… Baby One More Time.”

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