Invasion of Privacy

Invasion of Privacy
Has American roots, unlike common law of libel Guaranteed by state constitutions, but not federal
Supreme Court fashioned a protection of privacy
Griswold v. Connecticut (1965): voided Conn. ban on contraceptives Roe v. Wade (1973):
states can’t prohibit all abortions
Five privacy torts (not same in all states)
Intrusion upon seclusion: snooping, eavesdropping
Disclosure of embarrassing private facts
False light: “highly offensive”
Intentional infliction of emotional distress
Appropriation (celebrities)
Disclosure of embarrassing private facts
Facts correct but “highly offensive to a reasonable person”
False Light
False portrayal “highly offensive
to a reasonable person”
Intentional infliction of emotional distress
Caused by extreme or outrageous conduct
Cases often involve cameras
Hustler Magazine and Larry C. Flint v. Jerry Falwell (1988)
Hustler parodied an advertisement where Reverend Jerry Falwell said his “first time” was with his mother in an outhouse, and small print at the bottom said it was an “ad parody.” Falwell sued, but Supreme Court said this was similar to political cartoons and imposed actual malice requirement.
Spahn vs. Messner (1967)
False light case. Warren Spahn was a baseball player, and Julian Messner, Inc. published a book about him with a lot of inaccuracies. New York Court of Appeals ruled for Spahn.
celebrities’ right of publicity
Newsworthiness is no defense
Guidelines from 9th Circ. Court of Appeals on appropriation
Don’t say your interview is exclusive if it’s not (Clint Eastwood)
Don’t imply celebrity’s endorsement of your publication (Cher)
Zacchini v. Scripps-Howard (1977)
Cannonball TV news story. Hugo Zacchini sued for appropriation of his act. Supreme Court said the act was broadcasted without his consent and he wants to be paid for it.
Privacy Defenses
newsworthiness, fair report, consent
Smith v. Daily Mail Publishing Co.
A 14-year-old classmate was identified as the shooter by seven eyewitnesses and was arrested. Newspapers learned the name by questioning witnesses, the police and an assistant prosecutor. One newspaper did not publish the name because of a statute that prohibits publishing a juvenile suspect without court permission, and the other newspaper printed the name. Soon other local stations and the first newspaper used it. Court of Appeals said the information was truthful and lawfully obtained and was a matter of public significance.
Galella v. Onassis (1973)
Donald Galella photographed Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and her children. Onassis’ Secret Service agents arrested Galella, and then Galella sued her for false arrest. Onassis claimed harassment and invasion of privacy. Court said Galella is prohibited from approaching Onassis within 25 ft and children within 30 ft, entering children’s schools or play areas, blocking movement in public places, taking any action that could reasonably be foreseen to harass or frighten any of them.
Florida Star v. B.J.F. (1989)
BJF was raped and robbed. Sheriff’s personnel prepared a report stating the victim’s full name and posted it in the pressroom. Florida Star reporter wrote a story based on the police report, including the victim’s name. BJF sued the newspaper, saying they violated a Florida statute that prohibits the publication or broadcast of a victim of a sexual offense. Supreme Court ruled for BJF, saying that the newspaper’s report was accurate and lawfully attained.
Time Inc. v. Hill (1967)
James Hill’s family was held under hostage, and a play was written based on this. Life magazine took pictures of actors in the house and reenacted the scenes. Hill sued Time Inc. under the privacy statute, saying that Life sought to capitalize commercially on his family’s misforunte. Supreme Court decided Hill was a public figure and imposed actual malice requirement again.
Desnick v. ABC (2000)
Key words: intrusion upon seclusion, newsworthiness. An eye clinic sued ABC for intrusion, invasion of privacy, trespass, defamation after ABC produced a program about Medicare fraud and unnecessary cataract surgeries. Circuit Court of Appeals said no personal facts were revealed and defended investigative journalism, said it was newsworthy.
Medical Laboratory Management Consultants v. ABC (2002)
Key words: intrusion upon seclusion, newsworthiness. Prime Time live broadcast was about hurried analysis and inaccurate results from women’s pap smears. A producer claimed to be a cytotechnologist who wanted to learn how to start her own lab. The visit was secretly videotaped. The broadcast didn’t name the lab, but ABC was sued for intrusion upon seclusion. Court of Appeals said personal life was not revealed, only the lab’s business operations and pap smear testing industry. It was newsworthy.
Veilleux v. NBC (2000)
NBC filmed a truck driver, and the driver’s drug test was positive. NBC was sued for defamation and invasion of privacy, but Circuit Court of Appeals said it was newsworthy and related to their highway safety program. It was newsworthy.
Bartnicki v. Vopper (2001)
Key words: wiretapping, newsworthiness. Secretly recorded conversations between teachers’ chief negotiator and union president were broadcasted and published. Frederick Vopper’s station was sued for violating anti-wiretapping statutes. Supreme Court said that if one is involved in public affairs, then that person loses privacy, and the teachers’ negotiations were a matter of public concern. It was newsworthy.
Landmark Communications, Inc. v. Virginia (1978)
Virginian Pilot published the name of a judge facing possible disciplinary action in a confidential proceeding. Supreme Court said that the information was factual and served interests in public scrutiny and discussion of governmental affairs. It was newsworthy.
Cox Broadcasting Corp. v. Cohn (1975)
A girl was raped and murdered, and her name was not disclosed pending trial. But in court, a reporter saw the indictment documents available for public inspection and found the victim’s name. The report was broadcasted. The girl’s father sued and said his right to privacy was violated. Supreme Court ruled that while the First Amendment protects this publication, there’s still an ethical call to be made by journalists about whether to publish private facts.
Stewart v. NYT Broadcast Holdings, LLC and Griffin Communications, LLC (2010)
The police were seeking public help in identifying a thief who stole a wallet, and the video was believed to show the culprit. Linda Stewart sued two local TV stations that referred to her as a thief for false light and defamation. Court ruled that it was fair report.
Jennings v. Telegram-Tribune Company (1985)
Telegram-Tribune ran an accurate story with the heading “Prominent SLO artchitect convicted of tax fraud.” Jennings sued for libel, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Appellate court said publication had “literary license” and it was fair report. Good against error
Yeakey vs. Hearst Communications, Inc. (2010)
Newspaper published that crane wreck operator Yeakey had drug abuse and child abuse history. Later Yeakey’s drug test came back from negative, and the collapse was caused by a flawed engineering design. Yeakey sued for defamation, false light invasion of privacy, negligent infliction of emotional distress and outrage. However, the statements newspaper made were true, and Washington appellate court said that a plaintiff cannot base a defamation claim on the negative implication of true statements.
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