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Classmates.com Use of Names and Photos for Promotion Illinois Class Action

The company PeopleConnect, Inc. operates the website www.classmates.com, which allows people to search for information on former acquaintances. The website offers limited free samples of the kinds of photos and information they may obtain if they buy a subscription. The complaint for this class action alleges that the company thus uses photos and information belonging to other people to promote its website subscriptions, in violation of the Illinois Right of Publicity Act.

The class for this action is current and former Illinois residents who are not subscribers of Classmates.com and whose names, photos, and personal information PeopleConnect took from yearbooks and incorporated into the yearbook database it uses to promote Classmates.com subscriptions.

The plaintiff in this case, Scott Mackey, is a resident of Illinois. According to the complaint, he “has no relationship with PeopleConnect. He has never visited, used, or subscribed to Classmates.com.” It also claims, “Mr. Mackey did not give consent to PeopleConnect to use his name, photograph, likeness, or persona in any way. Had PeopleConnect requested his consent, Mr. Mackey would not have provided it.”

Even so, the complaint alleges, “On information and belief, People Connect uses Mr. Mackey’s photographs as a child in advertisements promoting subscriptions to its website.”

In what way is the company using the photos and information for promotion? The complaint alleges that the company offers a public landing page that allows the public to search for people by name and location. Then, the complaint alleges, it displays the “names and photographs in low-resolution and volume-limited formats for free. Users who click to see high-resolution versions, or who attempt to view more than two low-resolution photographs, receive a message saying they must purchase a paid subscription.”

According to the complaint, “PeopleConnect also displayed messages adjacent to the Plaintiff’s and Class Members’ photographs soliciting the purchase of a Classmates subscription for ‘as low as $1.23 a month.’”

The complaint claims that this leads the public into believing that the people whose names and photos are displayed willingly provided the information and endorse the Classmates subscription product. In fact, it asserts, PeopleConnect has not obtained consent to display the photos and information, does not hold copyright to the yearbooks from which it gets material, and did not get consent to use the photos and information for promotion. It also does not offer any way for people to opt out of these uses.

“Consent is not all or nothing[,]” the complaint alleges, claiming that yearbooks are intended only for limited distribution. “Plaintiff and the Class did not consent to the commercial use of their photographs to promote a website through worldwide distribution of their photographs on the Internet.”

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Privacy

Most Recent Case Event

Classmates.com Use of Names and Photos for Promotion Illinois Complaint

January 20, 2022

The company PeopleConnect, Inc. operates the website www.classmates.com, which allows people to search for information on former acquaintances. The website offers limited free samples of the kinds of photos and information they may obtain if they buy a subscription. The complaint for this class action alleges that the company thus uses photos and information belonging to other people to promote its website subscriptions, in violation of the Illinois Right of Publicity Act.

Classmates.com Use of Names and Photos for Promotion Illinois Complaint

Case Event History

Classmates.com Use of Names and Photos for Promotion Illinois Complaint

January 20, 2022

The company PeopleConnect, Inc. operates the website www.classmates.com, which allows people to search for information on former acquaintances. The website offers limited free samples of the kinds of photos and information they may obtain if they buy a subscription. The complaint for this class action alleges that the company thus uses photos and information belonging to other people to promote its website subscriptions, in violation of the Illinois Right of Publicity Act.

Classmates.com Use of Names and Photos for Promotion Illinois Complaint
Tags: Using Your Private Information Without Consent, Your Privacy