TAMPA, Fla. from www.courthousenews.com – – The media gossip blog Gawker does not have to remove the excerpts of a sex tape featuring the wrestler Hulk Hogan, a federal judge ruled.
Terry Gene Bollea, professionally known as Hulk Hogan, sued Gawker Media in the Middle District of Florida, demanding that it remove clips from a video in which he is recorded having sex with his friend’s wife.
The former professional wrestler admits that he engaged in “consensual sexual relations with a woman who was not his wife” six years ago, but he insists that he did not know he was being videotaped and would have objected to the recording had he known.
Early last month, Gawker Media posted parts of the video to its website without Hogan’s permission and has refused to take the clips down.
Hogan said this is an invasion of privacy and that if the video remains on the site, it would damage his personal and professional lives.
While Gawker Media agreed it may be an invasion of privacy, it claimed that its First Amendment rights outweigh Hogan’s privacy interests.
It also said that Hogan’s former reality show and book describe his personal life as well as an affair he had while married, making the sex tape of general interest to the community.
U.S. District Judge James Whittemore found Wednesday that the blog has editorial discretion to post excerpts of the video online that it deems newsworthy. Such decisions are outside of a court’s purview, he said.
He added that Gawker Media did not try to sell the video but rather posted it on its site as part of a news story.
Hogan also could not prove he would suffer irreparable harm if the video remained online, according to the ruling. While the tape may embarrass Hogan, that does not justify an injunction, Whittemore said.