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California Court Rules that Republication of MySpace Comments Isn't Invasion of Privacy

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By Kevin Fayle on April 07, 2009 3:35 PM

A student can't sue a high school principal for submitting disparaging comments she wrote on her MySpace page to a local newspaper, but the portion of her suit alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress can go ahead, a California state appellate court has ruled.

The suit alleges that the principal of Coalinga High School downloaded the student's diatribe against her hometown before she removed it from the site and gave it to his friend at the Coalinga Record.  The newspaper published the statements as a letter to the editor, and the student's family was subjected to harassment and forced to move, according to the suit.
The Fifth District Court of Appeal in Fresno ruled that the student and her family could not sue the principal and the editor for invasion of privacy, since she had already published the note, even though she eventually removed it from the site.  Since they had been available on MySpace for a time, her comments were not private, according to the court.

The principal's conduct may have been extreme and outrageous, however, the court wrote.  Since the student alleged that the principal submitted her statements in order to punish her, she deserved to have a jury decide whether the principal's actions amounted to intentional infliction of emotional distress, the opinion states.

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