Gill v. Curtis Publishing Co

In Gill v. Curtis Publishing Co. (1952) 38 Cal. 2d 273, 276 239 P.2d 630, a case involving the unauthorized use of a photograph, the California Supreme Court upheld a claim for invasion of privacy. The famous French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson had snapped a photograph of the plaintiffs, a husband and wife, without their consent as they "spooned" on counter stools in an ice cream shop. The magazine Ladies Home Journal then published the photograph to illustrate an article about love at first sight, described as the "wrong kind" of love based solely on sexual attraction. In their complaint, the plaintiffs alleged that the article portrayed them as immoral and dissolute persons. The court agreed, holding that "the public interest did not require the use of any particular person's likeness nor that of plaintiffs without their consent." (Gill v. Curtis Publishing Co., supra, 38 Cal. 2d at page 279.) The discussion in Gill v. Curtis Publishing Co. of the general common law right of privacy demonstrates that invasion of privacy may be actionable if materials such as an article about "bad" love or sexual molestation are juxtaposed with an illustrative photograph that makes a negative association between the subject matter and the subjects of the photograph.