abstract here - Columbia Law School

Monica Huerta
“What’s Mine: Involuntary Expressions and the Right to Privacy” explores the relationship
between the right to privacy and efforts to protect our expressions, even those we convey without
knowing. It begins by looking closely at the first legal treatise arguing for a right to privacy, Samuel
Warren and Louis Brandeis’ “The Right to Privacy,” published in the Harvard Law Review in 1890,
to discover the nature of personhood it aimed to shelter by understanding how the argument deemed
“casual and involuntary expressions” - gestures, facial expressions, and attitudes we might
unknowingly communicate - as those most in need of protection. The article signaled these
involuntary expressions as both analogous to works of “personal expression” that qualified under
copyright and works of “effort” in their own right. I show that instantaneous photography
transformed involuntary expressions into “efforts” that could be newly seen, thereby making them
available for adjudication.