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Hearst Corporation Disclosure of Subscriber Information Alabama Class Action

Hearst Communications, Inc. sells subscriptions to its many popular magazines, including Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, and Esquire. But the complaint for this class action alleges that it makes money in another way: by renting, exchanging, or otherwise disclosing information about the subscribers to its magazines. The compliant brings suit under the Alabama Right of Publicity Act (ARPA).

The class for this action is all Alabama residents whose identities were contained on or in any of Hearst’s data brokerage products.

Hearst, the complaint claims, keeps “a vast digital database” with its customers’ subscriptions and preferences, and makes money by disclosing this information about its subscribers to data aggregators, data cooperatives, list recipients, and the like.

But Hearst doesn’t simply sell this information. The complaint claims, “By renting, exchanging, or otherwise disclosing—rather than outright selling—its magazine subscribers’ identities, Hearst is able to misappropriate (and profit from) their identities time and time again to countless third parties.”

The complaint alleges, “Hearst discloses its magazine subscribers’ names and identities to data aggregators and appenders, which then provide Hearst with supplemental [information] about each Hearst subscriber that they have separately collected.” The complaint claims it also provides the information to data cooperatives, “which in turn give Hearst access to their own subscription list databases.”

The complaint quotes ARPA as saying that “any person or entity who uses or causes the use of the indic[i]a of identity of a person, on or in products, goods, merchandise, or services entered into commerce in this state, or for purposes of advertising or selling, or soliciting purchases of, products, goods, merchandise or services … without consent shall be liable under this article to that person, or to a holder of that person’s rights.” The liability exists whether the use is for profit or not.

The complaint alleges, “Selling the names and subscriber information as detailed above clearly constitutes using a person’s name on and/or in connection with a product, good, merchandise, or service.”

According to the complaint, Hearst does not ask its subscribers for their consent for its disclosure of their information to others. Most of its customers are not even aware that their data is being sold.

The complaint says, “Hearst never requires the individual to read or agree to any terms of service or privacy policy, let alone one that would allow it to misappropriate their property rights with impunity. Consequently, Hearst uniformly fails to obtain any form of consent from—or even provide effective notice to—its customers before misappropriating their identities.”

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Privacy

Most Recent Case Event

Hearst Corporation Disclosure of Subscriber Information Alabama Complaint

October 29, 2021

Hearst Communications, Inc. sells subscriptions to its many popular magazines, including Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, and Esquire. But the complaint for this class action alleges that it makes money in another way: by renting, exchanging, or otherwise disclosing information about the subscribers to its magazines. The compliant brings suit under the Alabama Right of Publicity Act (ARPA).

Hearst Corporation Disclosure of Subscriber Information Alabama Complaint

Case Event History

Hearst Corporation Disclosure of Subscriber Information Alabama Complaint

October 29, 2021

Hearst Communications, Inc. sells subscriptions to its many popular magazines, including Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, and Esquire. But the complaint for this class action alleges that it makes money in another way: by renting, exchanging, or otherwise disclosing information about the subscribers to its magazines. The compliant brings suit under the Alabama Right of Publicity Act (ARPA).

Hearst Corporation Disclosure of Subscriber Information Alabama Complaint
Tags: Use of Identity for Advertising, Your Privacy