Gawking Legally

9 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2018 Last revised: 8 May 2018

See all articles by Irina D. Manta

Irina D. Manta

Hofstra University - Maurice A. Deane School of Law; St. John's University School of Law

Date Written: January 30, 2018


This symposium contribution applies an institutional choice analysis, looking at whether legislatively-driven regulation or judicially-derived common law is better suited at addressing possible privacy violations that result from the disclosure of sensitive information by websites engaged in publishing or aggregating news. The piece proposes using as a measure of effectiveness the level of individual choice that different legal frameworks provide. Taking the litigation in Bollea v. Gawker as a focal point--where Hulk Hogan sued a news site that disclosed an excerpt of a sex tape of which he was unwittingly the subject--the paper shows that the law must balance the loss of choice via reductions of privacy with increases in choice that result for third parties as a result of these reductions. The choices of third parties include the ability to obtain and act on (sometimes unsavory) information about an individual who did not wish to have that information disclosed. The symposium piece concludes that the common law is generally better suited at addressing the heavily context-specific legal issues that arise from the behavior of news sites in this arena.

Keywords: privacy, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, sex tape, free speech, freedom of the press, Bollea v. Gawker, Internet freedom

JEL Classification: K13, O34

Suggested Citation

Manta, Irina D., Gawking Legally (January 30, 2018). Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 40, No. 117, 2018; Hofstra Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2018-04. Available at SSRN:

Irina D. Manta (Contact Author)

Hofstra University - Maurice A. Deane School of Law ( email )

121 Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549
United States

St. John's University School of Law ( email )

8000 Utopia Parkway
Jamaica, NY 11439
United States

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