Gawker's Hulk Hogan Sex Tape Posting Brings Permanent Injunction

The judge says that a publishing of the sex tape is not protected speech.
John Pendygraft-Pool/Getty Images
Hulk Hogan

Before Gawker makes an appeal of its $140 million loss against Hulk Hogan, the news site has suffered one more defeat with Florida Circuit Court Judge Pamela Campbell on Wednesday issuing a permanent injunction that prohibits Gawker from posting the former wrestler's sex tape video.

The injunction follows a trial loss in March for Gawker when Nick Denton's news organization couldn't convince a jury that the First Amendment and its judgment on what's newsworthy trumped privacy claims made by Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea. 

Gawker has argued that it didn't get a fair trial, but Campbell has upheld the verdict and in a final judgment imposed a 4.78 percent interest rate per year on the $140 million due to Hogan from Gawker, Denton, and writer A.J. Daulerio. An appeal could take some time.

In the meantime, the judge also has issued her findings of fact and conclusions of law to support a permanent injunction on the posting of the sex tape.

"Regardless of Mr. Bollea’s status as a celebrity, the nature of the character he portrays, and any public statements he made about his personal and sex life, the facts and circumstances of this case do not legally justify or authorize Gawker Defendants’ posting explicit video footage of Mr. Bollea without his consent, derived from an illegally recorded video of Mr. Bollea naked and engaged in sexual activity in a private bedroom," she writes. "Consequently, based upon the findings set forth herein, and as a matter of law, Gawker Defendants’ publication of the Gawker Video does not constitute protected speech."

In October 2012, Gawker originally published less than two minutes of the 30-minute tape it got it hands on. After Hogan sued, the judge issued a preliminary injunction, which was overturned by an appeals court on First Amendment grounds. Nevertheless, Gawker didn't repost the sex tape itself. It did, however, keep the Daulerio essay about the wonders of watching celebrity sex tapes, which included a play-by-play of the tape that led to the landmark lawsuit.

Now, over Gawker's objections, Campbell has entered a new permanent injunction with a message that seems to double as warning for others in the media.

"The fact that people, even celebrities, talk about their sex lives or make private recordings of themselves naked or having sex in the privacy of a bedroom does not give the public the right to watch that person naked or having sex without that person’s consent," she writes. "These are materials that a reasonable member of the public, with decent standards, is not supposed to see and has no legitimate justification or right to see."

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