From: Neil Foster <>
To: Jason Neyers <>
Date: 03/11/2015 23:11:16 UTC
Subject: Re: ODG: Is projecting a message onto the side of another's building a trespass?

Dear Jason;
Back in the day before privacy law was developed, there was a nuisance case decided by Young J in the SC of NSW, Raciti v Hughes (1995) 7 BPR 14,837; BC9501706 where his Honour reviewed a number of cases about strong lights and held they could amount to a nuisance. (This bizarre case involved the defendants having apparently set up a system of floodlights and video cameras angled into the plaintiff’s property, so that whenever their neighbours entered their back yard, the bright light and cameras came on to record what happened in the back yard!)
I have sometimes wondered whether the reason that the lights cases succeed, whereas we know that “view” cases fail in nuisance, is that in lights cases “something” (physicists can tell me if it is photons or waves or whatever) crosses the boundary into the plaintiff’s land (just as it is a nuisance to cause smoke or smells or noise to “cross the boundary”.) That rationale was not given in Raciti but it does provide an interesting review of light cases.
I guess the interesting issue is the nature of the harm caused by the projection. If it is a protest and you object to your building being used as a poster for a message you disagree with, then there is “annoyance” and “upset”, which it seems is regularly protected in “amenity” nuisance cases. There may even be some argument about “autonomy” and the right to use one’s land as one chooses? All in all nuisance may sound like a more plausible action in the Commonwealth sphere than trespass.

neil foster 
Associate Professor
Newcastle Law School
Faculty of Business and Law

T: +61 2 49217430

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From: "" <>
Date: Wednesday, 4 November 2015 5:16 am
To: "" <>
Subject: ODG: Is projecting a message onto the side of another's building a trespass?

Dear Colleagues:

A poster on the American Torts Prof listserve asked the question of
whether projecting a message onto the side of another's building is a
trespass (or nuisance).  Apparently this is becoming a popular protest
technique in the US.  Does anyone know of any Commonwealth authority
dealing with this issue?  I can think of nuisances case where the
reflecting or throwing of light has been at issue but nothing directly
on point.


Jason Neyers
Professor of Law
Faculty of Law
Western University
N6A 3K7
(519) 661-2111 x. 88435