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Judge leaves Hulk Hogan sex-tape excerpts online – for now

From staff reports
Published:   |   Updated: March 14, 2013 at 01:08 AM

A federal judge has denied a motion from Hulk Hogan to require that Gawker Media immediately remove from its website the excerpts of a sex tape featuring the wrestler.

U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore said that granting Hogan's request for a preliminary injunction would amount to prior restraint, generally prohibited under the freedom of the press afforded by the First Amendment.

The motion was filed as part of Hogan's lawsuit seeking damages from Gawker Media.

In the video, Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, went to the home of radio host Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, who is said to have Hogan to have sex with Heather Cole, Clem's wife at the time.

Hogan, 59, also sued Clem, and the two recently settled the lawsuit. The conditions of the settlement weren't made public, but Clem wrote a statement of apology in which he said Hogan wasn't aware he was being recorded.

Whittemore said in his ruling Tuesday that in alleging invasion of privacy and economic damages, Hogan failed to overcome the presumption against prior restraint.

The judge indicated that freedom of the press was an important consideration in his ruling, in part because Hogan has helped make himself newsworthy.

"Plaintiff's public persona," the judge wrote, "including the publicity he and his family derived from a television reality show detailing their personal life, his own book describing an affair he had during his marriage, prior reports by other parties of the existence and content of the Video, and Plaintiff s own public discussion of issues relating to his marriage, sex life, and the Video all demonstrate that the Video is a subject of general interest and concern to the community."

Stay with TBO.com for updates.

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