Sports Illustrated magazine, owned by Time Inc. published an article on February 22, 1971, ‘The closest thing to Being Born’ which concerned body surfing, very popular at the Wedge, a beach in California (Oyez 2012). Virgil was a body surfer in the beach, a sport that is seen as very risky and reckless. The magazine staff went to the beach after an approval by the senior management and met Virgil at the Wedge and had an interview with him. Virgil was well known as the most daring body surfer at the beach. Most of the information that Virgil gave was used in the Sports Illustrated later. Though Virgil gave information freely, the magazine reporter called his wife later to obtain more information regarding the husband and many photos of him were taken during the interview and later. The magazine staff then called him to request for his consent to allow for the information he had given to be used for an article which he refused. To make it even worse, the article gave information that he described as bizarre about his personal life that was not even related to surfing. He at first thought that the information he gave would be restrained to the Wedge.
Despite his protests against the 11 page article (about 7000 words), it was published after a series of approval by the magazine editorial staff. Though it mentioned many people from the Wedge, its last two pages concluded how daring Virgil was and several other anecdotes about him that attempts to explain why he was that reckless. Added to this were his photographs that he stated as beyond his surfing sport, which he complains that are invasion into his privacy.
The ruling to the case agreed that there was no compensation to anyone of the parties involved. It gave the ruling based on the fact that Virgil had given information freely and that he knew from the beginning that the information was to be used in writing an article. However, the United States district court had earlier stated that the magazine staff had actually intruded into the life of the complainant by intruding into the life of the complainant solitude or seclusion or into their private affairs.
Though the privacy of the complainant had been invaded, it had not been in a manner to lead to a suit. The information had been given out freely with ample knowledge of the intentions. The magazine later sued the complainant for filing a suit against them to cater for costs and other case expenses.