Invasion of privacy laws protect people from the intrusion into the personal life of another without just cause, which causes the person whose life has been intruded upon some harm. There are four types of invasion of privacy laws defined in common law: appropriation of the plaintiff’s picture or name, intrusion upon the plaintiff’s affairs or seclusion, publication of facts placing the plaintiff in a false light, and public disclosure of private facts about the plaintiff. Though the privacy laws may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, the basic idea generally remains the same.
Invasion of privacy involving appropriation of the plaintiff’s picture or name generally requires that the plaintiff show an unauthorized use of the plaintiff’s picture or name for a commercial advantage. Typically, the plaintiff will have to show that his or her picture or name was used in an advertisement or promotion of a product or service. Just showing that the defendant received an economic benefit is not enough to prove this claim.
A plaintiff must generally show that there was an act of prying or intruding in a manner that would be objectionable to a reasonable person in order to make a claim for intrusion upon the plaintiff’s affairs or seclusion. This invasion of privacy must be committed in a private place, such as one’s home. There is no claim for intrusion upon the plaintiff’s seclusion in a public location.
False light invasion of privacy occurs when the defendant attributes to the plaintiff untrue opinions or actions taken by the plaintiff. Furthermore, the view or action must be something that would be objectionable to a reasonable person. The false light must also be made in a manner that is accessible to the general public to violate the false light invasion of privacy laws. In other words, the violation must have occurred in such a way as to make it publicly noticeable — not hidden from view.
Invasion of privacy involving public disclosure of private facts about the plaintiff generally requires that there is an unauthorized public dissemination of information about the plaintiff that was previously private. The public dissemination must also be objectionable to a reasonable person. The truth of the statement is irrelevant in the analysis as well — if it is a private fact that was unreasonably communicated to the public, it is a violation of public disclosure invasion of privacy laws.