Just before a recent election, U. senator Peter B. Crockett became a strong supporter of environmental causes. Perhaps it was a publicity stunt.
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Just before a recent election, U.S. senator Peter B. Crockett became a strong supporter of environmental causes.

Perhaps it was a publicity stunt. Many reporters were invited along for photo opportunities. Perhaps he really cared. In any event, the senator decided to take a river rafting trip down the South Fork of the Rio Jarmo thundering waterway composed of dozens of rapids throbbing within a powerful current. Crockett's opponent, Mason Grant, has called for the Rio Jarmo to be dammed. Few people attempt to ride the Rio Jarmo alone because of the danger and the high level of skill needed to navigate it safely. But Maggie Daniels makes her living guiding people through the tumbling rapids ... or she did. Until recently, Daniels was one of twelve guides working for White Water River Trips Company. On the trip in question, Daniels was guiding Crockett and a number of newspersons. At a spot aptly called Devil's Rapid, the raft flipped high into the air and although it did not turn over, Crockett was catapulted outward. Things looked bad. He wore a life jacket and helmet but began to swallow the rushing water that slapped him in the face. Coughing and flailing, he saw there was nothing ahead but more water, house-sized boulders, thundering current, and a waterfall. Maggie Daniels dove into the swirling currents and risked her life to save the senator. The press, sensing headlines, snapped scores of pictures and spoke in excited voices into portable tape machines. With quiet skill and strong confidence, Daniels pulled the shaken and shivering Senator Crockett to shore and then completed the trip without incident. In a newspaper story about the incident, a reporter for The Morning Star profiled Daniels and included a great deal of personal information about her that he gathered by talking to her friends and to other guides. The published story included the fact that Daniels lost her husband and young son to Devil's Rapid just three years ago in a similar river mishap. The paper persuaded the coroner to hold up for the camera the tattered clothes the boy had worn that day and ran the picture, next to the small boy's school picture, on page one. Because of the circumstances of her loss, Maggie Daniels has spent scores of hours at Devil's Rapid, both in the water and out, so that she knows the water dynamics there better than any person alive. The Morning Star gave all of this background and concluded that it was this tragedy and the river guides reaction to it that would later enable her to save the senator's life. Daniels had refused to talk to the reporter who wrote the story. She said she just wanted to be left alone and she in no case wanted her name used. Nonetheless, the story ran with facts about Maggie and her work on the river, the loss of her family, and how the river had become almost a religion to her. COM 4410, Mass Media Law 4 A second paper, The Social Scene (sold at supermarket checkout stands everywhere), also wrote a story about the senator's rescue, but this story included an old file photo of a W.W.R.T. staff party in which Maggie Daniels and other guides are holding beer cans and looking somewhat the worse for wear. The caption for the picture read, "the guides who almost lost a Senator." It turns out that while Daniels was making the rescue, she wore PEDS tennis shoes, which have an identifiable trademarka circle with a star inside it--on the sides of the shoes. She also wore a PEDS tee shirt with a large PEDS logo. When the advertising director for PEDS saw Daniels's picture in the newspaper and realized his company's name was all over her clothing, he purchased a copy of the picture from The Morning Star and used it in an advertisement for PEDS that then ran in The Morning Star and elsewhere. The ad consisted only of the picture of Daniels (she could be identified) wearing the PEDS clothing and the headline, "HEROES WEAR PEDS- SHOULDN'T YOU?" A few weeks after rescuing Crockett, Maggie Daniels got so tired of all the publicity she was getting that she quit the raft company and decided to return to college and become a communication major. When she showed up on campus to register, however, she saw a bright blue poster on the Student Union wall. It was an ad for her former rafting company and had a picture of her saving Crockett. The text said, "Dangerous? Exciting is a better word! There may be danger around every bend, but our experienced guides will bring you through safe and sound. Sign up today with White Water River Trips for the time of your life." Questions about Appropriation and Intrusion: 1. What is The Morning Star's liability for the appropriation, right of publicity, and intrusion privacy torts? Analyze the case for each tort and explain the likely outcome. 2. What is The Social Scene tabloid's liability for appropriation and intrusion? 3. Can Daniels sue White Water River Trips for appropriation? Would her suit fall under the right to publicity or right to privacy? 4. Is there falsity? In this case, is the burden on the plaintiff to prove falsity or on the defendant to prove truth? Questions about Private Information and False Light: 1. Consider The Morning Star's liability for the publication of private facts and false light privacy torts. Analyze the case for each tort and explain the likely outcome. 2. Has The Social Scene placed itself in line for any type of privacy tort action? Explain. The poster at the university inviting students to sign up for white water rafting trips is a common sight in many student sections. Does this one raise any additional privacy issues? Is there a need for an opinion or fair comment defense?

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