The ads typically display the friend’s name, photo, and a caption asserting that the person likes a certain advertiser.
The ads are generated when a Facebook member clicks on the “Like” button for a particular page, product, or company.
The plaintiffs claimed that sponsored stories violate California’s Right of Publicity Statute, which prevents the use of a person’s name or photo in a paid advertisement without that person’s consent.
They also allege that they were unaware that the act of clicking on a “Like” button would be considered an endorsement or an “expression of consumer opinion.”
Facebook claimed the like button was a newsworthy event rather than advertising since the plaintiffs are considered public figures to their friends.
The judge rejected the argument finding that “newsworthy actions may be subjects of liability when published for commercial rather than journalistic purposes.”
Here are some of the facts and findings of the Court:
“”At issue here is one of Facebook’s advertising practices in particular, “Sponsored Stories,” which appear on a member’s Facebook page, and which typicallyconsist of another member’s name, profile picture, and an assertion that the person “likes” theadvertiser, coupled with the advertiser’s logo. Sponsored Stories are generated when a member interacts with the Facebook website or affiliated sites in certain ways, such as by clicking on the“Like” button on a company’s Facebook page
“”In this putative class action, Plaintiffs on behalf of themselves and all other similarly situated, allege that Facebook’s Sponsored Stories violate California’s Right of PublicityStatute, Civil Code § 3344; California’s Unfair Competition Law, Business and Professions Code §17200, and the common law doctrine of unjust enrichment.
“Plaintiffs allege thatFacebook unlawfully misappropriated Plaintiffs’ names, photographs, likenesses, and identities for use in paid advertisements without obtaining Plaintiffs’ consent”
“The Ninth Circuit has squarely held thatthe commercial use of a person’s newsworthy acts may nonetheless still result in liability under §3344.