Privacy Torts and the Media in the US (2023)


This course is about legal remedies for gathering and disseminating personal information by media entities. (3-month access)


To learn about the four privacy torts, to understand the First Amendment limitations on the privacy torts, to learn about other torts that regulate the collection and dissemination of personal data.


Length: Approximately 1 hour

Written by: Professors Daniel J. Solove and Paul M. Schwartz

Instructor: Professor Daniel J. Solove




Preview this Course

This course is about the legal remedies when media entities gather and disseminate personal information.  It discusses the landmark 1890 article on “The Right to Privacy” by Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis and Dean William Prosser’s pathbreaking development of the four privacy torts.  The course covers how the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution applies to each of the privacy torts.  The course also discusses other torts beyond the privacy torts that address privacy issues, such as confidentiality and control of personal data.  Additionally, the main defenses to tort lawsuits (CDA § 230 and Anti-SLAPP laws) are covered, as well as how courts handle cases where litigants seek to identify anonymous speakers.


To obtain a broad overview of privacy law, to understand the key issues involved, to learn how privacy law works, and to understand the differences and similarities between various privacy laws.




About this Course
The Privacy Torts and the Warren and Brandeis Article
Appropriation of Name or Likeness

The Right to Publicity
Free Speech Protection: The Real Relationship Test

Intrusion Upon Seclusion

What Is Private?

Public Disclosure of Private Facts

When Is Something Private?
The Widespread Disclosure Requirement
The Newsworthiness Test

Public Figures: The Sidis Case
Connection to Current Events: The Sipple Case
Connection to Informative Chronicles: The Shulman Case

Making Sense of the Newsworthiness Test

False Light  
First Amendment Limits on Liability for Privacy Violations

Levels of First Amendment Scrutiny
The First Amendment and the Privacy Torts

Intrusion Upon Seclusion
False Light
Appropriation of Name or Likeness
Public Disclosure of Private Facts

The First Amendment and Confidentiality Agreements

Other Torts Beyond the Privacy Torts

Breach of Confidentiality
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Background and Types of Defamation
Elements of Defamation
Secondary Liability
First Amendment Limitations on Defamation

Defenses to Tort Lawsuits

The CDA § 230

Non-Consensual Pornography Statutes





Required Readings

Handout: Privacy Torts
Handout: Defamation Law: First Amendment Limitations

Recommended Readings

Book: Daniel J. Solove & Paul M. Schwartz, Privacy and the Media (Aspen 3rd edition 2018)