I have studied three invasion of privacy cases in recent years. I will summarize the teachings of each in an attempt to understand the current state of the law.
1. Oliver Sipple (1984). Sipple was a gay man who saved the life of President Ford in 1975. His invasion of privacy suit was unsuccessful for two reasons: one, the subject-matter of the publicity complained of was of legitimate public concern; and two, knowledge of his sexual orientation was already in the public domain due to Sipple's frequent gay rights activism.
2. Hulk Hogan (2016). Hogan was successful, putting Gawker out of business for publishing a video of Hogan having sex. The case stands for the principle that, in the Internet era, courts are no longer going to defer to the media to determine what is considered "newsworthy"
3. Olivia de Haviland (2018). Principle here is, don't sue the movie industry in California.
The Hogan case was such an oddball case, relying as it did on the idea that Hulk Hogan and his creator, Terry Bollea, were two separate entities, that I don't see much precedential value here. I think, therefore, that the right of free speech in this country is still alive and well, though under attack, and would-be plaintiffs still should think long and hard before pursuing a dubious privacy claim.
This week at the court
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