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Privacy-the right to be let alone-is one of the newest of legal concepts in this country. England, on whose laws our own are based, has yet to enact legislation comparable to that in the United States.
In this day of mass communications and mass media, the demand for information about our fellowman is insatiable, and the supply is correspondingly generous. Has the victim of unsolicited exploitation any recourse in law? Not so long ago he had none-or very little.
This book traces the story of a peculiarly modern legal dilemma: the right of the individual to be let alone versus the right of the public to be informed and, conceivably, enlightened.
The cases comprising the evolution of the idea of privacy as a legal right are in themselves fas cinating, and bristle with implications important to overv private citizen. Famous people and obscure nobodies are involved. Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, Queen Victoria and Prince Al bert, Edna Ferber, Serge Koussevitzky, and Ben Hogan all playa part in the unfolding drama of man's invasion of another man's sacrosanct preserves: his name, his face, his private activities and personal proclivities.
So. too. do lesser mortals: a druggist named Yovatt: a struggling actor named Marks; a widow who was stunned and indignant to find her dearly beloved's face on a cigar wrapper; a pretty girl whose likeness adorned a sack of flour without her permission; a businessman whose place of business was featured in a film about white slavery; an animal trainer caught in the toils of TV commercials without his (or his animals') knowledge, consent, or remuneration.
All these people and more were part and parcel of a gradually developing phenomenon in law known as the Right of Privacy-perhaps the most nebulous, controversial, and significant legal concept of the twentieth century.
This is a casebook on the democratic principle in action. As Judge Curtis Bok says in an appreciative foreword, "Now the layman can think with the lawyer and see what he is up against. ... "