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Judge Rejects Settlement In Facebook Sponsored Stories Case 47

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-deal dept.
angry tapir writes "A U.S. District Court judge has rejected a proposed settlement in a lawsuit that alleges Facebook violated users' rights by using their names and recommendations of advertisers to be publicized through a Sponsored Stories program. The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, was filed in the Northern District of California by five Facebook members on behalf of as many as 100 million users of the social networking site."
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Judge Rejects Settlement In Facebook Sponsored Stories Case

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  • by ka9dgx (72702) on Monday August 20, 2012 @08:52AM (#41053397) Homepage Journal

    Why should Facebook get to use my picture to promote things I've never heard of? They get to display ads, isn't that enough?

    • by gr8_phk (621180) on Monday August 20, 2012 @08:54AM (#41053411)

      Why should Facebook get to use my picture to promote things I've never heard of? They get to display ads, isn't that enough?

      Hence the lawsuit.

    • by lookatmyhorse (2566527) on Monday August 20, 2012 @08:57AM (#41053445)
      once you upload the photo, doesn't it become FB property?
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 20, 2012 @09:03AM (#41053507)

        Then change your photo to a can of coke, but keep liking and posting stories about pepsi. Once the marketing droids at pepsi keep seeing a can of coke sponsoring their product, they'll soon stop doing it. Of course substitute mcdonalds/ford/verizon or whatever evil corp has a similar competitor you choose, and you might have to get more creative with the photos too (turds for microsoft phones for example - oh, wait...), but you get the idea.

        • by mug funky (910186)

          if my friends and family can handle it, i might change my pic to goatse.

          but then, what i say has little clout :(

      • by realityimpaired (1668397) on Monday August 20, 2012 @09:05AM (#41053535)

        Facebook operates in different jurisdictions, however... and in some of those jurisdicitons, you can't give away copyright like that. In other areas (some of which overlap the first group), they can't use your image or your name without your permission.

        The US has some seriously fucked up laws, when it comes to privacy, and I'm glad that the judge is calling them to task on it. Sadly, I'm not certain that the lawsuit will be as successful as it would be if it were filed in Canada, Germany, or any of the other areas where this kind of thing is *really* illegal.

      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        I don't know about US law, but in Dutch law there are certain inalienable with regards to portrait photographs. I.e. rights that cannot be transferred in any legal way, not even by release to public domain. One of these is that a portrait photograph cannot be used outside it's intended purpose withour explicit consent of both the photographer and the photographed person. In practice this means most advertisers can use pictures without problem as long as they don't claim the photographed individual endorses

      • No. Also, property is often not enough, here in Europe we have image rights, which are independent of copyright.

      • by Calydor (739835)

        Which becomes a very big issue when you upload a photo you do not hold copyright for in the first place.

      • by gmhowell (26755)

        once you upload the photo, doesn't it become FB property?

        I haven't checked in quite a while, but I don't think so. What they do get in exchange for you being allowed to post a photo, is the non-exclusive and universal publishing rights to the photo. They can use your photo for damn near anything they want. The only they can't do is give or sell the rights to someone else.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Because you agreed to it in exchange for the valuable consideration of access to their services.

      Although they really should have sent you a dollar, because at the rate the stock is falling, you won't really be able to call that "valuable consideration" much longer.

      • by vlm (69642) on Monday August 20, 2012 @09:46AM (#41053995)

        Because you agreed to it in exchange for the valuable consideration of access to their services.

        The phrase usually used is "sufficient consideration" which is a whole nother kettle of fish.

        Here's a typical Canadian release form:

        http://www.capic.org/download_pdfs/Form-en-2--Model-Agreement.pdf [capic.org]

        From talking to photographers its a widespread belief that you need to pay a Canadian model "a hundred dollars" more or less, otherwise historically judges have voided contracts for $1 or whatever. Pr0n is more expensive, I'm just talking about random glamour shots for marketing purposes, etc.

    • by oldredlion (1663421) on Monday August 20, 2012 @09:08AM (#41053557)
    • Off course that is not enough. It's facebook. All your data are belong to them.
    • by Baloroth (2370816)

      Obviously, what they are doing wasn't legal, not in the way they were doing it. Facebook wouldn't have proposed a ~$20 million settlement deal if they thought what they were doing was legal.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Why should Facebook get to use my picture to promote things I've never heard of?

      Because you agreed that it was alright for them to do.

      I don't know why you'd agree to something like that. It seems foolish to me, but you get to make your own choices.

    • The bigger question is how people still see ads at all. Is their ad blocker malfunctioning?
    • If you've never heard of something, why did you say you Like it on Facebook?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 20, 2012 @09:01AM (#41053483)

    So, let me get this straight... with Facebook, we are the product since they have no tangible property other than what we feed it. The proposed class-action involves an estimated 10 x10^7 people. To make everyone happy, Facebook proposes that they pay $10 x 10^6 to third-party organizations that promote privacy. Not only are they not compensating the people, they are paying roughly a dime a head to a third party organization that has no bearing on Facebooks policies and practices.

    Us:"I don't like they way you're treating my data and my posted stories of my life"
    Facebook:"Would it make you feel better if I gave this guy you've never met 10 cents?"

    • That's essentially what Google has been trying to do with books... so it should be OK for Facebook to do it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The difference is that what Google's trying to do is beneficial to society - create a giant collection of knowledge, free. Many groups have hailed it as an essential step in accessibility of previously unavailable texts.

        Facebook is selling your face as ads.

    • This is exactly the reason why I think class actions are for the most part scams. Unless you're one of the named plaintiffs who initiated the class action or their lawyer, those involved will rarely ever see something out of it. I remember getting an email over some class action related to Netflix regarding privacy issues. The proposed settlement by the 3-4 named plaintiffs was some $30k for them, their lawyer was $2 million or more, and some amount I don't recall for a charity. No one else got anything at

  • Reason for rejection (Score:5, Informative)

    by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Monday August 20, 2012 @09:02AM (#41053499) Homepage Journal
    TFS doesn't mention any details at all, so here's what the proposed settlement is (agreed to, I think, by both sides):

    The judge feels that Facebook's 100 million affected users may not be getting adequate compensation from this arrangement—and is pondering whether it's even possible to provide so many people with compensation.

    • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Monday August 20, 2012 @09:12AM (#41053595) Journal

      It's not about privacy. This isn't like Facebook lied about a product which was killing people. It's smarmy lawyers seeing a company making a mistake and getting erections at the fabulous wealth it will bring them by using a system built by lawyers for lawyers to enrich themselves acting as the functional equivalent of parasites on a host body.

      • And I think that's why the judge is raising such a fuss. It's like Facebook is withholding a feature update, pending a $20 million dollar payout to various friends (and enemies?) in the legal industry. Kinda hard to ignore!
      • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@h a c k i sh.org> on Monday August 20, 2012 @09:28AM (#41053751)

        While that's generally true, in the U.S. it's also really the only way to actually enforce a wide range of things. The European approach is to make it hard to bring class-action suits, and instead to regulate businesses' conduct directly. So for example there is an EU directive on data privacy, and there are national regulators who will go after violations.

        The American approach instead is to use the adversarial court system as the primary means of regulation. If there were a suspected auto defect, for example, a European government would investigate it, and then based on the results of their investigation would issue orders to fix the problem (if real) and/or fines. In the American system, instead, it is up to people who allege they have been harmed to bring a lawsuit and prove their case in court.

        • The American approach instead is to use the adversarial court system as the primary means of regulation. If there were a suspected auto defect, for example, a European government would investigate it, and then based on the results of their investigation would issue orders to fix the problem (if real) and/or fines. In the American system, instead, it is up to people who allege they have been harmed to bring a lawsuit and prove their case in court.

          You should have picked a better example - because product reca

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I noticed this practice a few years ago, when I had an active facebook account. I noticed that Facebook said "Hey, your friends used ____ app, you should too!" and given the friends that it showed, it seemed highly unlikely that those particular friends would have used this particular app; so I took a screenshot and inquired with those individuals -- they said they had NOT in fact, used that app.

      This really makes me mad, and I think it's wrong and it's one of the many reasons I LEFT facebook -- however I do

    • The judge feels that Facebook's 100 million affected users may not be getting adequate compensation from this arrangement—and is pondering whether it's even possible to provide so many people with compensation.

      Of course it is... shut down Facebook. I'd consider that a fair deal.

    • Why is the judge worried about user compensation? The way a class action usually works (We all know it, sing along!) is the lawyers get 300 million dollars and the users get a $10 gift certificate to Hot Topic.
      • Once in a while, a judge comes along who either hasn't been informed of how such things work, or hasn't been cut into the deal and happens to not like the lawyers who stand to profit from the arrangement. I imagine the usual tactic goes something like "but think of the children!" followed by the suit mysteriously being dropped... possibly to be refiled elsewhere.
  • by crow (16139) on Monday August 20, 2012 @09:15AM (#41053611) Homepage Journal

    Clearly, this is a case where the lawyers are out to get their fees, with no regard for their clients' interests. The judge should make it clear that if the lawyers propose or accept a settlement that is not clearly within their clients' interests, then legal fees will not be included.

  • when they were not the ones aggrieved by this heinous theft of personal property? the lion's share of a class action should go to members of the class.

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)

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