After accounts of the video and images from it surfaced online — but several months before Mr. Daulerio's 2012 post — Mr. Bollea addressed it in an appearance on a television show run by the website TMZ and in other interviews. "The public discussion was already going on," Mr. Sullivan said.
The verdict is a blow for Gawker, which has rebranded itself as a politics site since it published the tape and has sought to clean up its image in the wake of a series of scandals.
The company is technically required to post a bond, which is capped at $50 million, before appealing. But it will almost certainly appeal that bond.
The potential effect on the business, which employs about 250 people across seven websites, was not immediately clear. The company recently took significant outside investment for the first time, specifically to prepare for the case, and has been confident it can meet any financial demands the case places on it.
In the statement on Friday, Gawker said its team was "disappointed the jury was unable to see key evidence and hear testimony from the most important witness."
That was an apparent reference to Mr. Clem. According to documents unsealed on Friday, the radio host initially told federal investigators that Mr. Bollea was aware that his tryst with Mrs. Clem was being recorded. But he later changed that account after Mr. Bollea sued him, saying the former wrestler did not know a camera was present.
Apparently fearing that if he testified in the trial he could be subject to prosecution for giving differing accounts of the events, Mr. Clem invoked his right to not incriminate himself and was not called as a witness.
The plaintiff's legal team issued its own statement, saying that during the three and a half years since the lawsuit was filed, Mr. Clem had testified only once under oath and had "confirmed that Terry Bollea had no knowledge of being filmed or anything to do with it."
Samantha Barbas, a law professor at the University at Buffalo whose research focuses on the intersection of the First Amendment, media and privacy, said the verdict "could have a profound impact on privacy rights and also free press rights" in the United States.
"For a jury to say that a celebrity has a right to privacy that outweighs the public's 'right to know,' and that a celebrity sex tape is not newsworthy, represents a real shift in American free press law," Professor Barbas said.
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