Dirty Pictures: Defamation, Reputation and Nudity
Law Text Culture, No. 10, pp. 101-134, 2006
25 Pages Posted: 27 Nov 2007
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  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: Suggested Citation