Friday, March 20, 2009

When will it end?

Yesterday a friend and I were discussing the "Octo-mom" and the subject of privacy and the stalkerazzi came up. It steams me to no end that the stalkerazzi get away with hounding, chasing, and basically stalking everyone they want, and all for the sake of "news".

Several questions came to mind. Is it really news that woman took two children home from the hospital? Should we care? Does someone cross the line from private citizen to public figure by having a litter of children? Is there a line any longer?

So I did a little research and this is what I found...

The right of privacy is restricted to individuals who are in a place that a person would reasonably expect to be private (e.g., home, hotel room, telephone booth). There is no protection for information that either is a matter of public record or the victim voluntarily disclosed in a public place. People should be protected by privacy when they "believe that the conversation is private and can not be heard by others who are acting in an lawful manner." Am.Jur.2d Telecommunications § 209 (1974).

and then there's this. ....

  • unreasonable intrusion upon the seclusion of another, for example, physical invasion of a person's home (e.g., unwanted entry, looking into windows with binoculars or camera, tapping telephone), searching wallet or purse, repeated and persistent telephone calls, obtaining financial data (e.g., bank balance) without person's consent, etc.
  • appropriation of a person's name or likeness; successful assertions of this right commonly involve defendant's use of a person's name or likeness on a product label or in advertising a product or service. A similar concept is the "right of publicity" in Restatement (Third) Unfair Competition §§46-47 (1995). The distinction is that privacy protects against "injury to personal feelings", while the right of publicity protects against unauthorized commercial exploitation of a person's name or face. As a practical matter, celebrities generally sue under the right of publicity, while ordinary citizens sue under privacy.
  • publication of private facts, for example, income tax data, sexual relations, personal letters, family quarrels, medical treatment, photographs of person in his/her home.
  • publication that places a person in a false light, which is similar to defamation. A successful defamation action requires that the information be false. In a privacy action the information is generally true, but the information created a false impression about the plaintiff.

So if I'm reading that correctly, how DOES the stalkerazzi get away with all that they do?? Why don't people sue more often?

Yes, I understand that there are differences between how “public figures” and private citizens are treated, or there are supposed to be. Is the Octo-Mom public because she went on tv to talk about her life and children? She was being vilified in the press by even her own mother, so wasn’t it really in her best interests to tell the world her side? Plus, well since she was broke, the money she’s making from interviews and her website can really come in handy raising those poor children.

That said, did Octo-Mom give up her right to privacy by going on TV? I’m not so sure. And even if she did, does that excuse the behavior of the stalkerazzi when they followed her home and INTO HER GARAGE when she brought those children home ???? Shouldn’t those people have been arrested for at the very least trespassing? I don’t understand why no one seems to feel this is a problem. If it happened to you, wouldn’t you want those people arrested?

Everything I’ve read leads me to conclude that even though Ms. Octo-Mom has been thrust into the public eye, and even placed herself there, she has not given up her right to privacy.
I just pray that someday people start taking all of this type of behavior seriously.

Sooner or later someone is going to be killed again, just like Princess Diana, by the stalkerazzi. I wonder how many bodies its going to take for people to wake up and protect the right we all have to be left alone.