Dirty Pictures: Defamation, Reputation and Nudity

Law Text Culture, No. 10, pp. 101-134, 2006

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 07/78

25 Pages Posted: 27 Nov 2007  

David Rolph

The University of Sydney Law School

Abstract

The concept of reputation in defamation law has not been the subject of detailed academic analysis. The most comprehensive account of reputation in defamation law remains Robert C. Post's seminal article, 'The Social Foundations of Defamation Law: Reputation and the Constitution' (1986) 74 California Law Review 691. Post identifies at least three concepts of reputation in defamation law: reputation as property; reputation as honor; and reputation as dignity. This article seeks to apply Post's concepts of reputation to Australian defamation law. Through a case-study of two recent defamation cases, the high-profile litigation of Ettingshausen v Australian Consolidated Press and the comparatively little known case of Shepherd v. Walsh [2001] QSC 358, this article explores the concept of reputation in Australian defamation law. Although these two cases bear important similarities - both involve plaintiffs suing in respect of the publication of naked photographs they claimed exposed them to ridicule - the differences are more striking. This article argues that reputation can be understood as an economic and a social construct but should also be recognized as a media construct - reputation as celebrity.

Keywords: Tort, Defamation, Reputation, Celebrity, Nudity, Photography, Ridicule, Australia

JEL Classification: K10, K30, L82, K13

Suggested Citation

Rolph, David, Dirty Pictures: Defamation, Reputation and Nudity. Law Text Culture, No. 10, pp. 101-134, 2006; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 07/78. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1032487

David Rolph (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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