Reality television doesn’t use a sound stage and most of what’s shown on a reality TV show occurs in the “real world.” When reality television began, arguably with MTV’s reality show namesake “The Real World,” producers built or rented out a house, thus safeguarding their rights to film in the property. It generally is legal to film on private property, though permits and permission by the owner of the property generally are required before filming starts. Can such procedures be forgone when a show’s subject matter becomes a matter of public interest? In a lawsuit against NBC Universal over use of his property on Bethenny Ever After, a property owner claimed that tenants went behind his back to allow reality TV cameras inside his place, violating landlord privacy rights. The judge in the case has ruled that the plaintiff’s privacy was less key than the media defendants’ free speech rights, as producers of Bethenny Ever After argued successfully in this recent case. The case did not go to trial and was dismissed after producers filed a SLAPP motion.

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