If, like so many millions of people in the US, you or your child have or have had a Facebook account and a Facebook Sponsored Story featured your or your child’s name or profile picture, you or your child may be a “Class Member” in a class action lawsuit which recently settled. IPmetrics’ Chief Economist was Plaintiffs’ expert testifying with regards to the rights of publicity damages.
As you may, or may not, know, Facebook’s “Sponsored Stories” are a form of paid advertising that typically re-posts members’ likes and updates connecting members’ profile image and name with an advertiser’s message to promote to the member’s network of “Facebook friends.” Facebook and its advertisers do this with the understanding that these advertisements have a better chance that the posts will be seen and clicked-on by targeted users. While Facebook and the advertisers likely benefit from the incremental impact of the ads, the use if members’ images and names would violate statutes that require consent from the member. In intellectual property terms, Facebook is allegedly infringing some of its members’ rights of publicity under California law.
The case has not been heard by the federal courts and liability has not been determined but, while Facebook denies any wrongdoing and any liability whatsoever, a settlement has been reached with the plaintiffs.
The Court issued its Order Granting Motion for Final Approval of Settlement Agreement on August 26, 2013, and the Final Judgment on September 19, 2013. However, appeals have been filed. Before any settlement payments can be made, all appeals filed must be resolved. If you are interested in learning more about the settlement and your rights, you should consult the settlement website.