Last week, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg dismissed a putative class action against Facebook alleging that the company violated users’ rights of publicity by using their names and pictures for its Friend Finder service. The Judge concluded that the class failed to demonstrate that they suffered any injury as a result of the service. The Judge emphasized that Facebook did not publicize the plaintiffs’ names or profile pictures to any audience or in any context where they did not already appear. Rather, the names and profile pictures were merely displayed on the pages of other users who were the plaintiff’s Facebook friends.
The decision is welcome news not only to Facebook, but also Facebook app developers, some of whom have created innovative ways to allow users to interact with the developers’ products or services using friends’ names and likenesses.