Defamation, Privacy, & Publicity



This course examines tort causes of action for defamation and invasion of privacy. It covers both the common law of defamation, including the actions of libel and slander, and the constitutional limits placed on such actions.

In addressing defamation, the course will explore the dramatic tension between reputational interests and interests in freedom of speech and expression. Although this conflict may arise in any defamation action, it is particularly acute when media outlets critique public officials and figures. Thus, special emphasis will be given to such cases.

Beyond defamation, the course will review privacy actions for intrusion upon seclusion, false light, appropriation of likeness or identity for commercial gain, and public disclosure of private facts. In addition to considering the nature of privacy, and the law's need to coordinate this interest with committing rights to free speech and publicity, the course will compare these privacy torts to the ostensibly similar actions of defamation.