Ancestry.com Use of People’s Images Without Permission California Class Action

In general, companies aren’t allowed to use people’s likenesses without permission to promote their own products or services. The complaint for this class action alleges that Ancestry.com companies (including Ancestry.com, Inc, Ancestry.com, LLC, and Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.) permit access to its “US School Yearbooks, 1900 to 1999” database and the images and information in it to entice people to sign up for Ancestry.com subscriptions.

The class for this action is all California residents who (1) are not at this time subscribers of any Ancestry services, (2) have not donated a yearbook to Ancestry, and (3) those names, photos, or likenesses were put by Ancestry into its Ancestry yearbook database and offered for sale as a part of a paid subscription plan or used to advertise its paid subscription plans, without their consent.

The complaint says, “Ancestry’s business model relies on amassing huge databases of personal information, …then selling access to that information for subscription fees.” The subscriptions range in price from $24.99 to $49.99 per month.

Ancestry also uses the information to advertise its products and services. For example, “Ancestry advertises and promotes its product and services to new subscribers by offering a 14-day promotional ‘free trial’ that provides temporary access to search, view, and download records from Ancestry’s databases.” The only purpose of this free trial, the complaint says, is “to induce users to subscribe to its paid product and service.”

The complaint thus claims that Ancestry uses people’s images both for its core services and for the promotion of them, without the knowledge or consent of those people.

The complaint displays sample images and information of each of the two plaintiffs in this case, including yearbook photos, estimated ages, names and locations of their schools, and so on. compensated. The information available includes three records for one of the plaintiffs, and twenty-six for the other. The complaint says the plaintiffs were not asked for their permission for the use of their photos and other information, nor were they compensated for the use of it.

About one of the plaintiffs, Meredith Callahan, the complaint says, “Ms. Callahan is a published author and runs a coaching and consulting business. The image she presents online contributes to her book sales and forms a significant part of the brand and value of her business. She has a professional interest in maintaining her image and exerting control over how her name and image [are] used.”

The complaint alleges violations of California’s Right to Publicity and privacy laws, among other things.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Privacy

Most Recent Case Event

Ancestry.com Use of People’s Images Without Permission California Complaint

November 30, 2020

In general, companies aren’t allowed to use people’s likenesses without permission to promote their own products or services. The complaint for this class action alleges that Ancestry.com companies (including Ancestry.com, Inc, Ancestry.com, LLC, and Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.) permit access to its “US School Yearbooks, 1900 to 1999” database and the images and information in it to entice people to sign up for Ancestry.com subscriptions.

Ancestry.com Use of People’s Images Without Permission California Complaint

Case Event History

Ancestry.com Use of People’s Images Without Permission California Complaint

November 30, 2020

In general, companies aren’t allowed to use people’s likenesses without permission to promote their own products or services. The complaint for this class action alleges that Ancestry.com companies (including Ancestry.com, Inc, Ancestry.com, LLC, and Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.) permit access to its “US School Yearbooks, 1900 to 1999” database and the images and information in it to entice people to sign up for Ancestry.com subscriptions.

Ancestry.com Use of People’s Images Without Permission California Complaint
Tags: Using Your Picture For Commercial Gain, Using Your Private Information Without Consent, Your Privacy