This is the right to be left alone.

It is the ability of people to shield themselves from public view.

It is also the right of people to control information about them.

Privacy-related issues gained new significance with the rise of mass media.

Privacy laws also vary from state to state.


The Privacy Torts


Private facts

False light


NOTE: See case law here



This is the commercial use of someone's likeness (name, appearance, attire, voice, etc.) without consent.

Important issues include:

Commercial use: Direct exploitation or enrichment from someone's likeness.

Likeness: Plaintiff must be identifiable in the promotion by name of other likeness.

Consent: Did the plaintiff use someone's likeness without their consent?

Deceased people: Some states allow heirs to sue for appropriation violations.


Private Facts

Refers to the publicity of someone's private life leading to shame and humiliation:

Important issues include:

Public places: Events that occur in public are not private.

Public records: Information retrieved from public records is not private.

Humiliation: Occurs when private facts are used to cause shock or embarrass someone.

Lapse of time: Some defendants have used the lapse of time as a defense and lost.


False Light

This is the representation of someone in a false and highly offensive manner.

The plaintiff does not have to prove that his/her reputation was injured, just falsely represented.

Important issues include:

Distortion: Occurs when someone is portrayed out of context in editorial material.

Embellishment: Occurs when false information is added to editorial content.

Fictionalization: Use of fictional characters in works about people who are easily identifiable in       real life.



This is the intentional invasion of someone's physical seclusion.

It might occur during the news gathering process, for example during a police ride along. This makes it a news gathering tort – read more about it under the reporter's privilege.

People are entitled to maximum privacy in the following places:

Private residences.

Private offices.

Hospital rooms.

Dressing/fitting rooms.

Ambulances and other medivac transportation means.

Public toilet stalls.

Hotel rooms.


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