Jessica Lake

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Melbourne Law School

Senior Lecturer

Dr. Jessica Lake focuses on media law, legal history, and feminist legal theory. She researches the regulation of expression, reputation and creativity — privacy, defamation, copyright — in the common law world from the early nineteenth century to the present, with a focus on gender. Her first book, "The Face that Launched a Thousand Lawsuits: the American Women Who Forged a Right to Privacy," was published with Yale University Press in 2016. It argued that women first forged a "right to privacy" in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by bringing cases to prevent and prohibit the unsanctioned use of their photographic and cinematic images. Her book was shortlisted for the W.K. Hancock Prize by the Australian Historical Association. She has published widely in academic journals, and has edited books, newspapers and magazines on topics including the regulation of non-consensual and deep fake pornography, the history of privacy law, gender and technology, and defamation law and the #metoo movement. Her next book, on the gendered history of defamation law in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, "Special Damage: Slandered Women and Stained Whiteness 1790-1890," is contracted with Stanford University Press. In 2016-2017, Jessica was the Karl Loewenstein postdoctoral research fellow in jurisprudence and political science at Amherst College, Massachusetts. In 2022, she received a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award from the Australian Research Council for her project titled "The Colour of Sexual Slander." Jessica is currently co-editor of "History Australia." Prior to academia, she worked for several years as a media and intellectual property lawyer.