Page:Right to Privacy.djvu/22

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214.
HARVARD LAW REVIEW.

ments in a letter, if handiwork, however inartistic and valueless, if possessions of all sorts are protected not only against reproduction, but against description and enumeration, how much more should the acts and sayings of a man in his social and domestic relations be guarded from ruthless publicity. If you may not reproduce a woman's face photographically without her consent, how much less should be tolerated the reproduction of her face, her form, and her actions, by graphic descriptions colored to suit a gross and depraved imagination.

The right to privacy, limited as such right must necessarily be, has already found expression in the law of France.[1]

It remains to consider what are the limitations of this right to privacy, and what remedies may be granted for the enforcement of the right. To determine in advance of experience the exact line at which the dignity and convenience of the individual must yield to the demands of the public welfare or of private justice would be a difficult task; but the more general rules are furnished by the legal analogies already developed in the law of slander and libel, and in the law of literary and artistic property.

  1. The right to privacy does not prohibit any publication of matter which is of public or general interest.

    In determining the scope of this rule, aid would be afforded by the analogy, in the law of libel and slander, of cases which deal with the qualified privilege of comment and criticism on matters of public and general interest.[2] There are of course difficulties in applying such a rule; but they are inherent in the subject matter, and are certainly no greater than those which exist in many other branches of the law,— for instance, in that large class of cases in which the reasonableness or unreasonableness of an act is made the test of liability. The design of the law must be to protect those persons with whose affairs the community has no legitimate concern, from being dragged into an undesirable and undesired publicity and to protect all persons, whatsoever; their position or station, from having matters which they may


  1. Loi Relative à la Presse. 11 Mai 1868.

    "11. Toute Publication dans un écrit periodique relative à un fait de la vie priveé constitue une contravention punie d'un amende de cinq cent francs.

    "La poursuite ne pour être exercée que sur la plainte de la partie interessée."

    Riviére, Codes Francais et Lois Usuelles. App. Code Pen., p. 20.

  2. See Campbell v. Spottiswoode, 3 B. & S. 769, 776; Henwood v. Harrison, L. R. 7 C. P. 606; Gott v. Pulsifer, 122 Mass. 235.