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32 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 449 (1997)
Celebrity Privacy Rights and Free Speech: Recalibrating Tort Remedies for Outed Celebrities

handle is hein.journals/hcrcl32 and id is 457 raw text is: CELEBRITY PRIVACY RIGHTS AND FREE SPEECH:
One of the most complicated intersections of free speech and indi-
vidual rights occurs in the context of privacy law. The First Amendment
is designed to protect the press and thus promote free discourse of ideas;
these goals are often in tension with the privacy interests of individuals.
While a private individual often has legal recourse for revelation of pri-
vate information,' with rare exceptions public figures do not.2 A celeb-
rity's3 sexual life has never been more open to public scrutiny. Outing
gay or lesbian celebrities is one aspect of this phenomenon, and is, in
many ways, the most controversial. Outing raises fundamental questions
about free speech, about societal attitudes towards homosexuality, and
about what responsibilities (if any) the legal system has to respond to
these attitudes.
This Note will focus on celebrity privacy rights and tort remedies for
violations of those rights in the context of outing gay or lesbian celebri-
ties. Currently, celebrities have essentially no legal rights to privacy in
their personal lives.4 Although the Supreme Court has indicated that pub-
lic figures may not abandon their privacy rights entirely,5 in reality the
legal doctrine makes it virtually impossible for a celebrity to claim a
sphere of private life and conduct.6 Outing is an especially appropriate
context in which to examine celebrity privacy rights because it is difficult
' See, e.g., Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 U.S. 323, 345 (1974) ([P]rivate individuals
are not only more vulnerable to injury than public officials and public figures; they are
also more deserving of recovery.); see also Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. v. Greenmoss Builders,
Inc., 472 U.S. 749, 763 (1985) (permitting recovery of presumed and punitive damages in
defamation cases despite the absence of actual malice when the matter is not of public
2See New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964) (establishing actual
malice standard for defamation of public officials); see also Curtis Publishing Co. v.
Butts, 388 U.S. 130 (1967) (extending actual malice standard to public figures).
3Public figures are defined as those individuals who are intimately involved in the
resolution of important public questions or, by reason of their fame, shape events in areas
of concern to society at large. Curtis 'Publishing Co., 388 U.S. at 164. This Note will
use celebrity and public figure interchangeably.
4 In other areas of the law it is possible to conceive of some doctrines as protecting
the privacy of a celebrity, such as publicity rights in intellectual property law. However,
in the context of personal privacy, there is no Supreme Court case law affirmatively
establishing such a right. See supra notes 1-2.
5 See Time, Inc. v. Firestone, 424 U.S. 448 (1976) (holding that, despite an individual's
public figure status, not all judicial proceedings regarding that individual are necessarily
of legitimate public interest).
6 See New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964).

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