In 1890 Louis Brandeis and Samuel Warren wrote a Harvard Law Review article titled “The Right to Privacy.” As initially envisioned by Brandeis and Warren, the right of privacy was the “right to be let alone.” Brandeis went on to become a Supreme Court Justice and the article’s premise that we should have the “right to be let alone” led to the creation of four distinct privacy rights.
The first breach of privacy claim is for intrusion. An intrusion claim is available when we are in a location where we have a reasonable expectation of privacy but someone else invades our privacy by physical or electronic means. Think trespass or telephoto lens.
The second type of privacy claim is for private facts. A private fact claim arises when facts are communicated about us that are not of legitimate public concern and are highly offensive to a reasonable person. Think medical conditions or sex tapes.
The third type of privacy claim is for false light. A false light privacy action involves the right of an individual to be free from publicity that places him in a false light in the public eye. Think innocent photos with misleading captions.
The last type of privacy claim involves the right of publicity. Endorsements can be the most lucrative reward for celebrity status and this claim protects against the unauthorized use of a person’s name or likeness for commercial purposes.
I’ll give specific examples of each of the four privacy claims and discuss specific court decisions in future posts.
Jon Pfeiffer is an experienced entertainment and copyright trial attorney practicing in Santa Monica. Jon is also an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California where he teaches Media Law. COM 570 covers First Amendment issues as well as copyright, defamation and privacy.