Privacy

This section covers the right of privacy under state law. Most state laws attempt to strike a balance between the individual’s right to privacy and the public interest in freedom of the press. The two primary types of invasion of privacy actions are intrusion upon seclusion and publication of private facts. You can also be liable for portraying someone in a false light, misappropriating their image or likeness, violating their right of publicity, or even for fraud or trespass over gathering the news. This section also covers recording of phone calls and conversations, and videotaping in public places.

Reporters Committee and 28 journalism groups oppose French global delisting order

Ariel B. Glickman | Privacy | Feature | November 8, 2016
Feature
November 8, 2016

As France continues to push the envelope in terms of enforcing a worldwide “right to be forgotten,” free press advocates in the U.S. have stepped in to help Google defend itself from an order to delist content across the global Internet. 

Reflecting concern for newsgathering protections, as well as access to information for readers, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and a media coalition of 28 news and journalism organizations today urged the Conseil d’Etat, France’s highest administrative court, to strike down an order requiring Google to cleanse search results across all domains worldwide.

Google v. CNIL (French version)

November 4, 2016

The Reporters Committee led a coalition of 29 media organizations in intervening in a French high court case between Google and the CNIL, the French privacy authority that enforces the data privacy directive. Google had been ordered to delist certain articles from its search results when searches are conducted by name. Google had complied with the demains within Europe, but the CNIL had ordered that the delisting command apply to Google domains worldwide.  The media coalition argued that French authorities had no right to force their interests on Internet users in other countries, and allowing such worldwide restrictions in the interest of enforcing domestic law would lead many other countries to try to restrict Internet access. The coalition brief was written with attorneys from WilmerHale.

Google v. CNIL

November 4, 2016

The Reporters Committee led a coalition of 29 media organizations in intervening in a French high court case between Google and the CNIL, the French privacy authority that enforces the data privacy directive. Google had been ordered to delist certain articles from its search results when searches are conducted by name. Google had complied with the demains within Europe, but the CNIL had ordered that the delisting command apply to Google domains worldwide.  The media coalition argued that French authorities had no right to force their interests on Internet users in other countries, and allowing such worldwide restrictions in the interest of enforcing domestic law would lead many other countries to try to restrict Internet access. The coalition brief was written with attorneys from WilmerHale.

Porco v. Lifetime Entertainment Services, LLC

October 6, 2016

Christopher Porco filed a right of publicity claim under New York Civil Rights Law Section 51, arguing that Lifetime's broadcast of a film about his crime was "substantially fictionalized" and for commercial purposes. The Reporters Committee focused on the fact that under the statute, Lifetime could only be held liable if it broadcast the film “for advertising or for purposes of trade.” Having such a narrow scope, Section 51 did not apply to the docudrama, which did not use the plaintiff’s likeness for either of these reasons but rather to describe an actual event of public interest.

The finger and the football star

Football player challenges ESPN, reporter in medical privacy claim
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Kevin Delaney

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Jason Pierre-Paul talks to reporters for the first time since injuring his hand in 2015.

Medical privacy and the right to publish took opposite ends of the legal field when New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul squared off against ESPN and reporter Adam Schefter after Schefter tweeted photos of a medical report about injuries to the football player's hand.

Pierre-Paul sued ESPN and Schefter in February after Schefter tweeted images of a portion of Pierre-Paul’s medical records showing that doctors amputated Pierre-Paul's right index finger four days after a July 4th fireworks injury last year. In the suit, Pierre-Paul asserts privacy claims under a Florida medical privacy law and the common law.

News organizations must unite with tech world on "right to be forgotten"

Bruce D. Brown | Privacy | Analysis | May 19, 2016
Analysis
May 19, 2016

At the Reporters Committee gala in New York this week, honorees Alberto Ibargüen, President and CEO of the Knight Foundation, and Eve Burton, General Counsel of Hearst, were in perfect sync as they spoke about the convergence between the news media and technology companies. With many key legal questions unresolved as journalism continues its historic transformation to the digital world, the future of the First Amendment depends upon these two industries aligning their interests to confront the next generation of free press/free speech challenges.

Letter to Minnesota legislature on PRINCE Act

May 11, 2016

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press asked Minnesota lawmakers to amend right-of-publicity legislation, called the PRINCE Act, to provide safeguards for constitutional rights. In its letter, the Reporters Committee urged Minnesota legislature to explicitly avoid regulating any form of political, artistic or other socially relevant expression by limiting themselves to commercial products that imply an endorsement or other connection to the individual.

Comments to the Canadian Privacy Commissioner

April 28, 2016

The Reporters Committee and other news organizations submitted comments to the Canadian Office of the Privacy Commissioner, urging it not to consider adopting a "right to be forgotten" as part of its privacy program.

Maloney v. T3Media

February 26, 2016

Two college basketball players assert that T3Media violated their rights of publicity after T3Media operated, with the approval of the NCAA, Paya.com, a website that allowed members of the public to view and purchase non-exclusive licenses to photographs copyrighted by the NCAA. In the amicus brief, which 22 organizations joined, the Reporters Committee argued that T3Media’s use of the photographs constituted speech fully protected by the First Amendment. Accordingly, we asserted that the Plaintiffs could not restrict the dissemination of the photographs without showing a narrowly tailored compelling state interest — a standard they could not satisfy by asserting publicity rights. The brief further argued that the right of publicity is best viewed as a doctrine designed to prevent the unauthorized use of an individual’s name or likeness in connection with the advertisement of a product, and is not designed to restrict the dissemination of noncommercial speech.

Courts wrestle with defining newsworthiness in privacy cases

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Michael Lambert

AP Photo

The privacy suit brought by wrestler Hulk Hogan against Gawker will examine whether a videotape was newsworthy.

What is newsworthy?

When deciding whether to publish certain content, members of the news media answer this question on a daily basis.

But when courts attempt to define newsworthiness, the inquiry can be more complicated and could dictate the outcome of many high-stakes trials.

This March, a St. Petersburg, Florida court is set to consider the news value of a video clip featuring 62-year-old former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan having sex with Heather Cole Clem, the then-wife of Hogan’s friend and radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge Clem.