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Advertising Law

Sued Over ‘Like’ Ads, Facebook Calls Users Public Figures to Whom Right of Publicity Doesn’t Apply

Posted Dec 19, 2011 1:54 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A new Facebook feature this year that allows an advertiser to broadcast a user's "like" of its product to others in that individual's circle is being challenged in California.

A federal judge in San Jose on Friday nixed a motion to dismiss the suit, which contends that such Facebook ads violate the user's right of publicity by using their names and photographs without authorization, the Los Angeles Times reports.

However, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh did agree to dismiss an unjust enrichment count.

A spokesman for the Internet social networking Goliath called the suit "without merit."

Facebook contends user permission is not required to promote his or her likes to those in that person's circle, in a category it terms "sponsored stories," according to Bloomberg.

The company says such information is newsworthy and hence exempted under California's right-of-publicity statute. It also contends the plaintiffs are public figures as far as their Facebook friends are concerned.

Additional and related coverage:

Ad Age: "Facebook Turns the 'Like' Into Its Newest Ad"

Forbes: "Did a California Judge Just Destroy Facebook's Ad Model?"

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