The Supreme Court Monday let stand a New York...

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court Monday let stand a New York court ruling barring a man from claiming his privacy was invaded when The New York Times used his photograph without permission on its Sunday magazine.

The justices refused to hear an appeal by Clarence Arrington, a black, who sought damages for invasion of privacy when his picture was used to illustrate an article not connected with him.


The New York Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, held Arrington, 31, could sue others -- but not the Times -- for loss of privacy.

On Dec. 3, 1978, a friend awakened Arrington to tell him his full-page picture was on Sunday Times Magazine. The picture of the well-dressed Arrington walking on the street accompanied an article whose theme was that the black middle class was unconcerned about less fortunate blacks.

Arrington, a Columbia University Business School graduate and Ford Foundation employee, was angry his photo was used to illustrate an article with which he differed.

He said he suffered scorn and ridicule because friends and colleagues assumed his picture indicated approval of the article's views, and that he had sold his picture commercially.


The Times had hired a photographer to take pictures of 'well-dressed blacks on the street' to be used with the article, 'The Black Middle Class: Making It.'

Since Arrington had not given permission for the picture's use, he sued -invoking privacy rights under state law and the Constitution.

When he lost in lower courts, he pursued his case to the state's top court. But the New York Court of Appeals held Arrington could not sue the paper because his photograph was used to illustrate an article of public interest.

The fact Arrington was a middle class black was sufficient 'real relationship' to the article to trigger the newspaper's protection from suit.

In denying him the right to recover from the Times, the court said it is 'part of the price every person must be prepared to pay for a society in which information and opinion flow freely.'

Also, the court held he could not sue and invoke the constitutional right to privacy because The New York Times was not a governmental body whose action could trigger such a suit.

Arrington appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing the only thing that makes him of public interest is the 'Times' decision that his appearance made him someone whose photograph they wished to publish with the ... article.'


His appearance on the magazine cover manipulated him 'in a way thatmakes him appear to be something he is not ... identifies him with views he does not share, and has brought him unsought and unwanted publicity by dragging him into a public controversy with which he has no connection,' he said.

Lawyers for The New York Times said the appeals court had not invoked First Amendment protection and Arrington's suit was denied because it did not meet New York law.

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