11th Circuit rejects Fla. woman’s suit against Fox’s ‘Cops’

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A federal appeals court ruled this week that the Fox reality show “Cops” didn’t violate the privacy rights of Arlene Spilfogel when her interactions with police during a traffic stop were recorded without her knowledge. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s order dismissing the case.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press reported that Spilfogel sued Fox Broadcasting Co., Langley Productions Inc. and Turner Broadcasting System Inc. after she was recorded on a public street and the incident was later broadcast. She claimed the “defendants invaded her privacy through the public disclosure of private facts and intrusion upon her seclusion.”

According to the Reporters Committee article, “the courts agreed that recording interactions with police during a traffic stop on a public street cannot give rise to either cause of action.”

The 11th Circuit wrote: “The broadcast of ‘eccentric reactions and behavior in stressful situations’ does not amount to the publication of private facts that are offensive and not of public concern.”

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