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Your Friends On FaceBook Ads - Will You Buy Because Your Friends Say So?

Interim Ruling: Case Can Proceed

If you're a Facebook user, you may have seen advertisements on your page featuring your friends advertising stuff they "like."   Under copyright law, your name and likeness can't be used without your permission, but be sure that somewhere in the EULA (End User License Agreement) that you signed when you joined Facebook (or when they updated the EULA) - I don't know, I don't read them either - you agreed to let Facebook use your name and likeness.

Typically, a company can't advertise using your name or likeness unless you agree to allow it.  There is an element of the relevant law that requires celebrity status to invoke this protection, but there have been cases where regular people like you and me (who are not celebrities) to block the unauthorized use of our photos and names. 

But, given the army of lawyers that Facebook undoubtedly hired to make sure they didn't violate the law, the lawsuit trying to prevent the ads from hitting your Facebook page has an uphill battle.  So, Facebook attacked a lawsuit filed against it designed to stop such practices.  Facebook filed a motion to dismiss the case, claiming that the plaintiffs could not show any damages from the company's practice.  In a recent ruling, the Court disagreed, saying, ""plaintiffs have articulated a coherent theory of how they were economically injured by the misappropriation of their names, photographs and likeness."

According to BusinessWeek, 90% of Facebook's expected $6.9 billion in revenue (yes, that's a "B") is derived from ads, so it's likely that Facebook will continue its attack against this case of Fraley v. Facebook, filed in San Jose.

Stay tuned for more.

Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, December 19, 2011

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