The right to privacy is an integral and highly valued aspect of American life. It establishes the legal right to be left alone and to be free of interference in matters that are not the business of outsiders. In order for an invasion of privacy to warrant legal action, the individual whose private affairs have been imposed upon needs to prove that their private affairs have been intruded upon, disclosed, publicized in a false light, or that their name has been used for personal gain such as in advertising. Notably, if your name or picture is used for the purpose of trade without consent, it may not only constitute an invasion of privacy but also may represent a copyright infringement. Protecting your name or likeness from being used without your permission is the most common reason to sue for invasion of privacy.
Filing a lawsuit for invasion of privacy through the use of a name or likeness is based on protecting the value of the individual’s reputation or talent. The rules surrounding this type of use of a likeness or name are highly specific. There have been several lawsuits filed regarding the use of an individual’s characteristics where the defendants did not mention the plaintiff’s name or use an actual photo or drawing of them. These cases are generally not successful. Only the meaningful use of a name or likeness is considered actionable by the courts. The same is true of the mere mention of a name or photograph. If their use is considered incidental it is not considered an invasion of privacy.
An invasion of privacy not only needs to include a specific name or likeness, but the plaintiff also needs to be able to show that its use was purposeful, that is was intended to appropriate or leverage the value that the name or likeness bestows, that the injured party did not provide permission for their name or likeness to be used. They also need to be able to show the damages that they suffered as a result of the use of their name or likeness. It is important to note that the ability to sue for invasion of privacy dies with the individual whose privacy has been invaded.
If you believe that you have been the victim of invasion of privacy, your first step should be speaking with an experienced attorney. To set up a time to meet, contact us today.