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Chapter 5 Privacy
True/False Questions
1) The founders stipulated in the Constitution that the Bill of Rights protects a "right of
privacy."
Answer: False
Rationale:
This statement is false. The Constitution does not explicitly mention a right to privacy.
However, the right to privacy has been interpreted by the courts, particularly through the
Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, and through
various Supreme Court rulings.
2) In Florida Star v. BJF, the Supreme Court ruled that the media can rarely be punished for
publishing truthful, lawfully acquired information about an matter of public importance.
Answer: True
Rationale:
This statement is true. In Florida Star v. BJF, the Supreme Court ruled that punishing the
media for publishing truthful information obtained legally about a matter of public concern is
a violation of the First Amendment. However, there may be exceptions if the publication of
such information causes harm, but these exceptions are very narrow.
3) The Supreme Court has ruled a citizen has NO privacy claim if private information is
revealed in a public court record.
Answer: True
Rationale:
This statement is true. The Supreme Court has held that there is generally no expectation of
privacy regarding information contained in public court records. Once information enters the
public domain through court proceedings, individuals have limited privacy protections over
that information.
4) Businessman Bob is on a trip with a lover his wife does not know about. Photographer
Paul shoots a picture of Bob and his lover on a public beach. Bob should be able to sue
successfully for intrusion.
Answer: False
Rationale:
This statement is false. In situations where individuals are in public spaces where there is no
expectation of privacy, such as a public beach, they generally have limited recourse for

invasion of privacy claims, especially if the photograph was taken without trespassing or
other illegal means.
5) Once private information becomes newsworthy, it may remain newsworthy for years.
Answer: True
Rationale:
This statement is true. Once private information becomes newsworthy, its relevance to the
public interest may extend over a significant period. Newsworthiness is determined by
various factors, and if the information remains pertinent to public discourse or interest, it can
continue to be considered newsworthy over time.
6) In Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, the Supreme Court ruled a public figure may successfully
sue the media for intentional infliction of emotional distress if the publication is
"outrageous."
Answer: False
Rationale:
This statement is false. In the case of Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, the Supreme Court held
that public figures cannot recover for intentional infliction of emotional distress without
showing that the publication in question contains false statements of fact made with actual
malice.
7) It is legal in a majority of states for a participant to secretly record a conversation.
Answer: True
Rationale:
This statement is true. In many states, only one party needs to consent to the recording of a
conversation for it to be legal. Therefore, if one party to the conversation (usually the person
doing the recording) consents to the recording, it is generally considered legal, even if done
secretly.
8) It is unlawful for journalists to tap telephones.
Answer: True
Rationale:
This statement is true. Tapping telephones without proper authorization is illegal and
constitutes a violation of privacy laws. Journalists, like any other individuals, are subject to
these laws and may face legal consequences if they engage in unauthorized telephone
tapping.

9) Zacchini v. Scripps-Howard Broadcasting Co., the human cannonball case, teaches that
broadcasters are at risk of commercial appropriation if they broadcast an entertainer's entire
act on a news show.
Answer: True
Rationale:
This statement is true. In Zacchini v. Scripps-Howard Broadcasting Co., the Supreme Court
ruled that broadcasting an entertainer's entire act, such as a human cannonball performance,
without permission could constitute commercial appropriation and infringe upon the
entertainer's right to control the commercial value of their act.
10) The Supreme Court has ruled that publication of the name of a rape victim violates a
woman's privacy if authorities mistakenly release the name to the public.
Answer: False
Rationale:
This statement is false. The Supreme Court has generally held that the publication of truthful
information, even if it pertains to sensitive matters such as sexual assault, may be protected
under the First Amendment. However, many states have laws protecting the identity of sexual
assault victims, and media organizations often voluntarily refrain from publishing such
information out of ethical considerations.
11) Unauthorized commercial appropriation of someone's identity can occur in print
advertisements but usually not in news stories?
Answer: True
Rationale:
This statement is true. While unauthorized commercial appropriation of someone's identity,
such as using their likeness for commercial purposes without consent, can occur in print
advertisements and other commercial contexts, it is less likely to occur in news stories where
the use of a person's identity is typically for informational or newsworthy purposes rather
than commercial gain.
12) The Supreme Court has ruled that journalists have a privilege to accompany public
officials onto private property if the officials have a search warrant.
Answer: False
Rationale:
This statement is false. Journalists generally do not have a special privilege to accompany
public officials onto private property, even if those officials possess a search warrant. While
journalists may have rights under the First Amendment to gather news and report on matters

of public interest, those rights do not override private property rights or the execution of
lawful search warrants.
13) A photographer for the campus newspaper, the Blowtorch, took an award-winning photo
of Olympic diver Lotta Wett. The Blowtorch can lawfully publish the photo without Wett's
permission to promote itself, to advertise the great photography readers will find regularly in
the Blowtorch.
Answer: True
Rationale:
This statement is true. In general, photographs taken in public places where there is no
reasonable expectation of privacy can be published without the subject's permission,
especially for purposes such as news reporting or promoting the publication's content. As
long as the photo was taken in a public place and does not depict Wett in a false light or
invade her privacy, the publication of the photo by the Blowtorch would likely be lawful.
14) Some states recognize a right of publicity for the estates of dead celebrities.
Answer: True
Rationale:
This statement is true. Many states have laws recognizing a post-mortem right of publicity,
which allows the estates of deceased individuals, including celebrities, to control the
commercial use of their likeness, image, or persona. These laws aim to protect the economic
interests and reputation of deceased individuals and may provide legal recourse for
unauthorized commercial exploitation of their identity.
15) Plaintiffs claiming they were cast in a false light in an issue of public interest must prove
the publication was made with actual malice.
Answer: True
Rationale:
This statement is true. In cases of false light invasion of privacy, plaintiffs typically must
prove that the publication was made with actual malice, meaning that the defendant published
the false information with knowledge of its falsity or with reckless disregard for the truth.
This standard is similar to the one used in defamation cases involving public figures.
16) Employees who smile for the camera have given consent for their photos to be printed in
company brochures and advertisements.
Answer: False
Rationale:

This statement is false. Merely smiling for a camera does not necessarily constitute explicit
consent for the use of one's image in company brochures or advertisements. Consent should
be obtained explicitly, preferably in writing, to ensure that individuals understand and agree
to the use of their likeness for promotional purposes.
17) Journalists and public relations practitioners hoping to avoid private facts suits should be
especially careful to get permission when publishing personal medical information,
particularly information about children.
Answer: True
Rationale:
This statement is true. When publishing personal medical information, especially concerning
sensitive matters or involving children, journalists and public relations practitioners should
obtain explicit consent from the individuals involved or their legal guardians. Failure to do so
may expose them to potential liability for invasion of privacy or other legal claims.
18) Broadcasters must cut the most violent or dangerous conduct because they have a duty to
foresee the harm that may result when viewers copy violent and dangerous programming.
Answer: False
Rationale:
This statement is false. While broadcasters may have some ethical considerations regarding
the content they air, they generally do not have a legal duty to censor violent or dangerous
conduct solely based on the potential for viewers to mimic such behavior. However,
broadcasters may face regulatory scrutiny if their content violates specific standards set by
broadcasting regulations or if it incites imminent lawless action.
Multiple Choice Questions
1) If a viewer copies a violent act he sees on television, the victim can probably successfully
sue the broadcaster for
A) emotional distress.
B) copycat harm.
C) outrage.
D) negligence.
E) None of the above.
Answer: E
Rationale:
The scenario described relates to the concept of causation and liability. While the broadcaster
may have some ethical responsibility for the content aired, legal liability typically does not

extend to situations where a viewer imitates actions seen on television. The responsibility for
such actions would primarily lie with the individual who committed them.
2) To win a private facts suit, a plaintiff must prove the publication
A) is disgusting to the average person.
B) is highly offensive to a reasonable person.
C) injures the plaintiff's reputation.
D) All of the above.
E) None of the above.
Answer: B
Rationale:
In a private facts lawsuit, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the publication of private
information was highly offensive to a reasonable person. The focus is on the offensiveness of
the publication rather than its impact on the plaintiff's reputation.
3) Mary Cassandra is walking down a public sidewalk holding hands with her boyfriend,
Ralph. Tommy Snapper, a newspaper photographer, shoots a picture from across the street
and publishes it in the Banner-Guardian with a story about downtown redevelopment. After
seeing the photo, Ralph's wife divorces him. Ralph will likely recover damages from the
newspaper for which tort?
A) Commercial appropriation
B) Intrusion
C) Emotional distress
D) Ralph could probably successfully sue for all of the above.
E) None of the above.
Answer: E
Rationale:
In this scenario, since Mary and Ralph were in a public place, there is no expectation of
privacy, and therefore, no viable tort action against the newspaper for any of the listed
options.
4) The constitutional right of privacy is
A) explicitly stated in the First Amendment.
B) explicitly stated in the Fourth Amendment.
C) explicitly stated nowhere in the constitution.
D) There is no constitutional right of privacy.
E) None of the above.

Answer: C
Rationale:
While the right to privacy is recognized by the Supreme Court as emanating from various
constitutional provisions, including the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments, it is
not explicitly stated in the Constitution.
5) To successfully sue over revelation of private facts, a plaintiff must establish among other
things
A) the publication was highly offensive.
B) the publication was intentionally misleading.
C) the defendant acted with actual malice.
D) the publication was commercial.
E) None of the above.
Answer: A
Rationale:
In a private facts lawsuit, the plaintiff must primarily establish that the publication of private
information was highly offensive to a reasonable person, among other elements. The other
options are not necessarily required elements for a successful lawsuit of this nature.
6) The Supreme Court ruled in Florida Star v. BJF that
A) the government has no interest in protecting the privacy of rape victims.
B) rape is not a matter of public importance.
C) information is "lawfully acquired" if obtained from a report issued by the sheriff's office.
D) All of the above.
E) None of the above.
Answer: C
Rationale:
In Florida Star v. BJF, the Supreme Court ruled that information obtained from a public
record, such as a report issued by the sheriff's office, is considered "lawfully acquired" for
First Amendment purposes, even if its publication may cause harm.
7) Sidis v. F-R Publishing Corp., the case involving the former child prodigy, illustrates
A) that newsworthiness includes information that may be merely interesting.
B) newsworthiness can last longer than 10 years.
C) that collecting subway tokens is of no public interest.
D) All of the above.
E) A & B only.

Answer: E
Rationale:
Sidis v. F-R Publishing Corp. established that newsworthiness can extend beyond immediate
events and that information may remain of public interest even after a significant period of
time has passed.
8) Tommy Snapper climbs a ladder to get a photo with his telephoto lens of Ima Starr, a
popular local singer, as she watches television, dressed in a nightgown, in her den. Snapper
never publishes the picture. Starr might successfully sue for
A) exposure of private facts.
B) intrusion.
C) commercial appropriation.
D) intentional infliction of emotional distress.
E) None of the above.
Answer: B
Rationale:
In this scenario, Snapper's act of climbing a ladder to take a photograph of Ima Starr in her
private space constitutes intrusion into her privacy, even though the photo was not published.
Intrusion upon seclusion is a viable cause of action in such cases.
9) Broadcasters may
A) NOT tape-record telephone conversations for broadcast.
B) tape-record a telephone conversation for broadcast if they tell the person being recorded at
the beginning of the recording.
C) may tape-record for broadcast only if they are collecting information "in the public
interest, convenience and necessity."
D) B and C only.
E) None of the above.
Answer: B
Rationale:
Broadcasters may generally tape-record telephone conversations for broadcast if they inform
the person being recorded at the beginning of the conversation. This requirement is often
mandated by state laws governing wiretapping and electronic surveillance.
10) Courts have ruled that citizens have a legitimate expectation of privacy everywhere
EXCEPT a
A) medical helicopter.

B) doctor's office.
C) hospital room.
D) street corner.
E) B and D only.
Answer: D
Rationale:
Courts have recognized that individuals have a legitimate expectation of privacy in various
settings, including medical facilities like doctor's offices and hospital rooms, as well as in
private spaces such as homes. However, individuals generally do not have a reasonable
expectation of privacy in public spaces like street corners where they are exposed to public
view.
Essay Questions
1) Ace is a reporter for WGET-TV, preparing a series of reports on professors at Go
University. Ace hears that art professor Michael Montage is suspected of selling drugs to
students. While searching police and court files to see if Montage has a criminal record, Ace
runs across an unsealed, two-year-old divorce file. In the file, Ace learns that Montage was
divorced two yeas ago. Ace also learns in the divorce file that Montage was sexually
molested by a neighbor when he was a child.
By coincidence, police with a search warrant raid Professor Montage's house in the evening,
just as Ace is walking to his own nearby apartment. When Ace shows police his reporter's
credentials, police invite him on the raid. As the raid begins, Montage stands at the door to
his house, shielding his eyes from the lights of Ace's camera, and yells: "Keep Out."
Nevertheless, Ace follows police through the house. No drugs are found, but police seize
several DVDs that appear to be pornographic.
Later that night, WGET runs several promos: "A Drug Raid at Professor's House; Details at
11," says one promo. A two-second clip of the raid is included in the promo. At 11 p.m.,
WGET runs a two-minute story about the raid, including ACE's footage from inside the
house.
Ace reports that police found no drugs, but police think they confiscated obscene material.
With great solemnity, Ace adds, "Sadly, Montage himself was sexually molested when he
was a boy, court records reveal."
Montage sues Ace and WGET for several torts and a violation of his Fourth Amendment
rights. Tell whether you think Montage might recover damages for any of the following
claims. Cite cases where appropriate.

(1) Disclosure of private facts for revelation of the childhood molestation.
(2) Trespass and intrusion for entry with police during the raid.
(3) Violation of Fourth Amendment for participating in illegal search and seizure.
(4) Commercial appropriation of Montage's identity in the news program and the
broadcastpromotion before the 11 p.m. news.
Answer: (1) Private facts. Montage would have a weak claim for tortious revelation of private
facts. The Supreme Court ruled in Florida Star v. B.J.F. that the press has First Amendment
protection to publish lawfully acquired, truthful information about an issue of public
importance. Ace acquired the information about Montage's molestation lawfully from an
open court document. A student might argue convincingly that disclosure of the molestation
is not a matter of public importance, indeed that disclosure of the molestation is gratuitous.
Nevertheless, the information has been lawfully acquired from a public office and, arguably,
has at least minimal news value in connection with the drug raid at a professor's house where
pornography may have been found. The search of a professor's house is a matter of public
importance.
Even though the record of the molestation is two years old, it would still be newsworthy or of
public interest. A federal court in Briscoe v. Readers Digest ruled that a man could not sue
for invasion of privacy because information in 12-year-old court records were still
newsworthy.
(2) Trespass and intrusion. Montage may have a successful trespass and intrusionclaim. The
Supreme Court has ruled that officials do not have the authority to invite journalists and
others into private property during a lawful search. (Wilson v. Layne, Hanlon v. Berger)
Montage denied permission for Ace to enter when he shouted from his door way to "Keep
Out." Montage might also have an intrusion case, as Ms. Schulman did, for entry of cameras
into a private placeπthe homeπwhere a person has a legitimate expectation of privacy.
(3) Fourth Amendment. Ace did not violate the Fourth Amendment because he didnot act
under color of law. The Supreme Court has ruled that officials violate a householder's Fourth
Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures when officials invite
private citizensπincluding journalistsπonto private property when the officials are not
authorized to do so. In rare circumstances journalists, too, might violate the Fourth
Amendment if their activity on private property is so tightly integrated with officials that the
journalists become arms of the law. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found CNN reporters
to be acting under color of law when CNN signed an agreement with a government agency
detailing CNN's role in a raid and use of resulting tapes and secret recordings. There would

not appear to be sufficient planning or "collusion" for Ace to be acting under color of law.
Ace found out about the raid by chance.
(4) Appropriation. Ace and WGET did not appropriate Montage's identity forcommercial
purposes. News media do not engage in commercial appropriation when they air or publish a
news story. The media also have a privilege to employ photos and news clips to promote their
own programs and news offerings.
Short Answer and Key Terms
1) Distinguish between the torts of disclosure of private facts and intrusion. Cite key cases.
Answer: Private facts is a tort in which private, intimate information is published that is
highly offensive to an average person and not of legitimate public interest, i.e., not
newsworthy. The plaintiff must establish that the private information was disseminated to the
public. Plaintiffs are seldom successful bringing private facts cases because the media have
broad First Amendment rights recognized in Florida Star v. B.J.F. to publish lawfully
acquired truthful information and because newsworthiness, generally, is defined very
broadly.
Intrusion is the highly offensive invasion of someone's solitude or seclusion through physical,
mechanical or electronic means. Intrusion is accomplished through the use of recorders,
telephoto lenses or other means of sensory enhancement. Intrusion is a newsgathering tort
that does not require publication, while private facts is a tort of publicity.
2) Describe the right of publicity.
Answer: The right of publicity is the right of celebrities and public figures to control the
commercial use of their identities, their names, faces, voices and distinctive characteristics.
Celebrities can authorize or halt the use of their identities in advertisements, posters,
endorsements and other commercial activities. Not all states recognize a right of publicity.
Where it is recognized, some states hold that the right of publicity dies with the celebrity;
other states, including California, allow a celebrity's heirs or estate to control and profit from
the celebrity's identity. Bette Midler and Tom Waits have successfully sued advertisers who
imitated the singers' distinctive voices in unauthorized commercials.
3) What is the significance of the Florida Star v. BJF case?
Answer: In Florida Star the Supreme Court accorded the media a very broad constitutional
protection to disseminate lawfully acquired, truthful information about matters of public
importance, even if that information is private or embarrassing. The Court said a government
must demonstrate an interest of "the highest order" to overcome the constitutional right of the
media to publish lawfully acquired, truthful information. The Florida Star newspaper

acquired the name of a rape victim lawfully from a government office when the sheriff
included the name in a press release the office was not supposed to distribute. The Court has
not defined when the media might be punished for publishing truthful private information
about an issue of public importance. Also, the definition of lawfully acquired is not clear.
4) Incitement-Can the media be held liable for "inciting" dangerous or violent acts when
readers and viewers copy or take inspiration from violent or dangerous acts they read or
view?
Answer: Almost never. Courts generally rule that the media are not responsible for the
foolish and dangerous acts of readers and viewers who copy or are inspired by what they read
or view. The media are not responsible if a violent viewer rapes a woman after viewing a
simulated rape in a television drama. The media lack the close relationship and duty of care
to readers and viewers that licensed doctors have toward their patients or lawyers toward their
clients. However, a federal appeals court did rule in Rice v. Palladin that a book incited crime
by providing a very detailed manual on how to commit murder. The book was a manual for
murder that intentionally provided detailed directions for readers intent on murder.
5) Consent Advise a corporate PR practitioner on the type of consent she should acquire from
employees who will be pictured in company promotional brochures.
Answer: The PR practitioner should get written consent specifying how the picture will be
used. Courts have ruled that employees have not given consent for commercial use of their
identities when they fail to object when their pictures are taken. Silence does not constitute
implied consent.

Test Bank for The Law of Public Communication
Kent R. Middleton, William E. Lee
9780205484683

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