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The Face That Launched a Thousand LawsuitsThe American Women Who Forged a Right to Privacy$
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Jessica Lake

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300214222

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300214222.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
The Face That Launched a Thousand Lawsuits

Jessica Lake

Yale University Press

In 2015 Lastonia Leviston successfully sued rapper ’50 Cent for breach of privacy after he uploaded a sex tape of her without consent. She relied upon statutory laws forged in 1903 in the wake of a case brought by young Abigail Roberson to prevent the use of her pretty face in advertisements. This chapter introduces a new interdisciplinary history of the evolution of privacy law that places the legal activism of individual women front and center. The invention of a legal ‘right to privacy’ in the United States did not begin nor end with Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis’ famous Harvard Law Review article in 1890. The advent of photography and cinema in the mid to late 19th century caused new harms to individuals, particularly women. A right to privacy became the discourse for protesting the unauthorised circulation and publication of women’s images, as contemporary debates concerning the 1888 Bill to Protect Ladies demonstrate. This chapter also connects the gendered history of ‘a right to privacy’ to current issues concerning the regulation of the unauthorised circulation of women’s nude or otherwise explicit images online, known as revenge pornography or non-consensual pornography.

Keywords:   Privacy, History, Law, Women, Gender, Photography, Revenge pornography

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