In 2003, Barbra Streisand made a grave miscalculation.
She attempted to sue photographer Kenneth Adelman for invasion of privacy. In the process of documenting the California coastline, he photographed her Malibu mansion. Adelman then included the photo as part of the California Coastal Records Project.
Adelman created the publicly available 12,000 photo collection in order to document coastal erosion. His aim was to influence government policymakers. No matter the intent, Streisand didn’t take kindly to the inclusion of an image of her home. She launched a $50 million lawsuit.
Before the lawsuit, “Image 3850” had only been downloaded from Adelman’s site six times, two of which were by Streisand’s attorneys. Afterward? Over 420,000 people visited the site in a month due to the resulting publicity.
As for the lawsuit, things didn’t go well for Barbra Streisand. The case was dismissed and Streisand subsequently had to pay Adelman’s legal fees totaling $155,567.