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ABC cleared in privacy suit

Alphabet not long in hot water

A federal jury has cleared ABC in a suit accusing the net’s “20/20” newsmagazine of violating privacy laws by using hidden cameras to videotape acting workshops.

The suit, filed in May 2003 by workshop operators and actors, alleged the taping via miniature cameras was an illegal and unnecessary intrusion.

The story involved a “20/20” producer going undercover and paying to perform in front of a working casting director or casting associate.

“We are pleased with the jury’s verdict in this case,” the net said in a statement. “The jury’s verdict in favor of ABC News confirms our belief that the news report in question is in all respects a solid story filed by chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross, a veteran ABC News journalist, about an important public controversy in California.”

When the story aired in late 2002, the California labor commissioner was moving to clamp down on “pay to audition” workshops by citing the state law making it illegal to pay to apply for a job. Operators of casting workshops that demand payment have insisted the workshops are legal as long as they contain an educational component.

Neville Johnson, attorney for the plaintiffs, told Daily Variety he had no comment.

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