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Dietemann v. Time, Inc.

Citation. 449 F.2d 245 (4th DCA 1971)
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Brief Fact Summary.

Dietemann sued Time, Inc. for invasion of privacy when two reporters posed as patients in the illegal medial services he ran out of his home.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Freedom of the press does not protect the media from invasion of privacy claims.


Although Dietemann was not a licensed doctor, he used herbs and minerals to heal people out of his home. Reporters for Time, Inc. (Time), posed as patients and used a hidden camera without Dietemann’s consent to take pictures of Dietemann while he was examining the other reporter. The reporters also recorded their conversation with a hidden tape recorder. When an article was published regarding Deitemann, Dietemann sued for invasion of privacy. The district court found for Dietemann, and Time appealed.


Whether freedom of the press protects the media from invasion of privacy claims?


No. The judgment of the district court is affirmed. Dietemann’s house is an area that an ordinary person would expect to be protected from undercover media. The First Amendment does not protect against crimes committed during newsgathering.


Freedom of the press does not protect the media from invasion of privacy claims. A plaintiff can succeed in an invasion of privacy claim by proving that: (1) the defendant, without the consent of the plaintiff, (2) secretly recorded the plaintiff, (3) and caused emotional distress.

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