Invasion of Privacy
Photographing someone in a public place is not an invasion of privacy. In most states
you can even photograph them with a hidden camera. The exceptions are Georgia, Maine,
Michigan, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Utah. But if you photograph a person in a
place that is deemed to be private, such as through a window covered by curtains, that
would be invasion of privacy.
It's illegal to record a person's voice without their permission in California,
Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Oregon, New Hampshire,
Pennsylvania, and Washington.
If you publish something that damages someone's reputation, you could end up as the
subject of a libel lawsuit. The law basically divides people into two categories in
regard to libel, public figures and private persons.
If someone takes you to court with a libel suit they must prove the following:
There must be a defamatory statement. Unfortunately, there are infinite possibilities
of what might injure someone's reputation. You might say a golfer is "good" and be
sued because the golfer is actually a "master", and to say that he's just good damages
his reputation as a "master". There are four statements which are always defamatory:
imputing criminal conduct; a loathsome disease; being incompetent; or unchaste behavior.
• The person being attacked must be identifiable. But your statement
does not need to specifically name the person, if the average person should reasonably
be expected to be able to identify the person from your description, you lose in court.
Even if you call your work "fiction", you can be sued if one of your characters is
identifiable as a real-life person to readers.
• The statement was made with malicious intent. In other words,
you wrote a statement with the knowledge that it was false and your statement was meant
to damage that personís reputation.
• If your statement is true, it's not libel. The problem is being
able to prove it's true.
• The statement must be expected to be believable by the average
person. For example if you state that someone "walks around with his head up his ass",
the court would hold that the act you portrayed the person as performing are physically
impossible and couldn't be reasonably believed.
• The statement must cause damage. Actual economic loss or damaged
to reputation isn't necessary. Injury can include holding someone up to hatred, ridicule
or contempt, or cause them to be shunned or ostracized or suffer mental anguish or humiliation.
Private persons are afforded far greater protection than public figures. The private
person does not have to prove malicious intent. He only needs to prove negligence,
that you did not double-check your facts.