Court throws out Streisand's invasion of privacy lawsuit

Privacy | Feature | December 4, 2003

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Court throws out Streisand's invasion of privacy lawsuit

  • A superior court judge ruled that environmentalist's photo of Streisand estate does not invade her privacy, and that the photo is protected speech concerning a matter of public interest.

Dec. 4, 2003 -- A California judge offered a tentative ruling yesterday, dismissing singer Barbara Streisand's $10 million lawsuit against an environmental activist for posting a photograph of her Malibu estate on his Web site.

Superior Court Judge Allan J. Goodman wrote that Streisand's complaint constitutes an effort to silence Kenneth Adelman's speech about a matter of public concern -- protection of California's coastline -- in violation of the state anti-SLAPP statute (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). Streisand was also ordered to pay Adelman's legal fees.

The decision is expected to be finalized within a few days, although Goodman has 30 days to make corrections to his ruling.

Streisand brought suit in May for three counts of invasion of privacy, violation of misappropriation of the right to publicity code and violation of the Anti-Paparazzi Act, a California law targeted at tabloid photographers who use eavesdropping devices and telephoto lenses of a certain length.

Adelman, a retired software engineer, publishes a Web site called californiacoastline.org as part of his California Coastal Records Project. Adelman monitors and documents the environmental degradation of the California coast. His photos document "almost the entire California coastline," according to the ruling.

The picture of the coastline containing Streisand's estate is one of 12,000 photos published on the Web site and was taken by Adelman from his helicopter, 2,700 feet from the coast and with a digital camera. No people are visible in the photograph.

"Occasional overflights are among those ordinary incidents of community life of which [Barbara Streisand] is a part," wrote Goodman, concluding that no serious invasion of privacy had occurred. Furthermore, Goodman noted, Streisand has opened her home to reporters and photographers in the past.

Richard Kendall, Adelman's attorney, said his client is very pleased with the decision.

"It's a complete victory," Kendall said, noting that the judge's 46-page ruling is "thoroughly reasoned."

(Streisand v. Adelman, et al.; Media Counsel: Richard Kendall, Irell & Manella LLP, Los Angeles) -- KM

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