Thursday, May 10, 2012

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Law

Protecting Privacy in a World of Publicity ~

These days, it's easy to feel like you have no privacy at all.  Social media allows us to share our lives with one another, but can also be a floodgate when it comes to the amount of detail available over the web.  At one time, it was tough to get information on people applying for jobs or meeting for potential dates.  Now, millions of people are likely members of at least 1 social network, so doing a quick cyber check on them is easy.

Although most people have the control in their own hands regarding what is open for the taking about them, there are some legal considerations worth keeping in mind.  Here's a few facts on the rights of privacy and publicity...for the movie star and domestic ones, too.

Where do these rights come from?
Publicity rights arise from tort law's right of privacy.  This source includes intrusion, disclosure of embarrassing facts, and false light, i.e. using ones likeness or image in a way which compromises their character--without permission, of course.  

Privacy and publicity are linked, but distinct.
The distinction between the 2 is essential, especially in today's global media setting.  A violation of privacy is a tort, or infliction of harm onto someone.  It is not descendable and can only be enforced during one's life.  The right of publicity is contractual.  It deals with agreements and the right to control one's own value in commerce.  This right can be enforced in life or death.

Rights of publicity are independent in each state.
Depending on where you are, publicity rights can be handled differently.  There is no general federal legislation, but most states have similar laws for the sake of consistency.  Publicity rights can be enforced during life as well as in death through one's estate.

Because information is so readily available, claims of privacy violation have soared over the last 5 years.  To be sure a claim is valid, it must contain 3 elements when the use of a name or likeness is causing harm:

  • Use in an identifiable manner
  • Without consent
  • In situations where the invasion benefits the wrongdoer
Clearly these cases can vary in scope over the internet and in print.  They have become something common beyond celebrities in major tabloids.

It is important to be careful these days when posting pictures and information about ourselves.  Tech savvy individuals are crafty in finding ways to violate privacy, and ill-business dealers often abuse the rights given to them for publicity.  

Post with caution!

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