1. Should wrongful intent or news-gathering methods by defendants have any
bearing on the outcome of privacy lawsuits? For example, suppose a trespassing
news reporter slipped unnoticed into a physicianâ€™s office, stole an individualâ€™s
medical file, and then published information from the fileâ€”including
the fact that the individual was infected with HIV. If the medical information
was legitimately newsworthy, would the reporterâ€™s wrongful methods be the
slightest bit relevant in a lawsuit brought by the individual subject of the
story? Has the Supreme Court answered this question, or has it left the door
open to such a lawsuit?
2. For purposes of the appropriation tort, the trick sometimes is determining
whether the individualâ€™s name or likeness was used for a commercial purpose.
How would you categorize the following unauthorized uses: (a) Putting
an employeeâ€™s picture on the front of the companyâ€™s monthly employee newsletter?
(b) Using a business customerâ€™s picture on the cover of the companyâ€™s
shareholder magazine? (c) Using a campaign contributorâ€™s name in a political
ad urging support for a senatorial candidate? (d) Using an individual doctorâ€™s
picture on a flyer for a cancer society fundraising event? (e) Using a college
professorâ€™s picture in a calendar being sold on campus to raise funds for a
3. It has been rare for plaintiffs actually to win lawsuits against mass communicators
for invasion of privacy or infliction of emotional distress. Yet it appears
these kinds of lawsuits are being filed with increasing frequency. How would
you explain this? Have these lawsuits become more frequent because of
changing tactics by the media? A changing mood among media consumers?
An increasingly litigious society?