April 09, 2009
Intellectual Property, Internet & E-Commerce Alerts

No Privacy Claim for Republication of MySpace Posting

A young college student in Berkeley recently posted a story on her personal online journal at myspace.com, writing about her home town that "the older I get, the more I realize how much I despise Coalinga" (a cattle-feedlot town in California's Central Valley), and then explaining why.  Six days later, she removed the posting from her myspace.com page, but not in time to prevent the high school principal back home from sending it to the local newspaper, which took the initiative to publish it as a Letter to the Editor.  As a result, the student's family received death threats, and were ultimately forced to close the 20-year-old family business and move away from their town.  When the student's family members brought suit against the principal and the newspaper for invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress, the state trial court ruled, and the California Court of Appeal has now upheld, that no invasion of privacy can be found.  Once the student posted her comments on myspace.com, they were "available to anyone with internet access", and "not private".  (Moreno v. Hanford Sentinel, Inc., California Court of Appeal No. F054138, April 2, 2009 (certified for partial publication).)
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