There are four different branches of the invasion of privacy tort that are recognized in various jurisdictions throughout the country. These branches are:
- appropriation, for the defendant's advantage, of someone's name or likeness;
- intrusion upon someone's seclusion or solitude or into his private affairs;
- public disclosure of private facts about a person; and
- publicity that places a person in a false light in the public eye.
Appropriation of Plaintiff's Name or Likeness
North Carolina has for a significant period recognized an invasion of privacy tort for conduct that involves the unauthorized appropriation, for advantage, of someone's name or likeness.
The unauthorized appropriation action for invasion of privacy will lie if one appropriates to his own use and benefit the name or likeness of another. Generally this concerns the advertisement of someone's business or products or a similar commercial purpose, but is not limited to such invasions.
The harm consists of the ''appropriation,'' to one's own use and benefit, of a person's reputation, prestige, social or commercial standing, public interest, or other values of the person's name or likeness.
Intrusion Upon Seclusion
North Carolina recognizes an action for intrusion upon the seclusion or private affairs of another. The intrusion must be one that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person.
In a landmark case, a wife hired a private investigator to install a surveillance camera in her estranged husband's bedroom, knowing of his paranoiac tendencies. The husband, upon discovery of the camera, became fearful for his life, moved out of his house and carried a loaded gun with him.
In addition, the wife went to the post office to hold the mail for her husband's address. She then picked up her husband's mail at the post office, sorted through it, threw some away and put what was left in her husband's mailbox.
The husband filed suit against his wife, the private investigator, and two people who assisted the private investigator in installing the surveillance camera. The husband sought to recover for invasion of privacy, trespass, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.