Facebook Loses Bid To Recover Legal Fees From Users Who Sued Over Friend Finder

    May 15, 2012

    A group of consumers who unsuccessfully sued Facebook for using their names and photos in ads will not have to pay the social networking service’s legal bills, according to Media Post.

    U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg rejected Facebook’s attempt to recoup $700,000 in attorneys’ fees following its successful dismissal of a lawsuit about whether its Friend Finder featured violated California’s publicity law. That law says that people have the right to control the commercial use of their names and images and provides for damages of $750 per violation. The lawsuit alleged that Facebook’s Friend Finder tool unlawfully used their names and photos in ads without their consent.

    Seeborg wrote that even though he dismissed the potential class-action lawsuit, he had not decided whether Facebook violated the California law. Instead, he tossed the case because the consumers could not show that they had the right to bring a case in federal court. Therefore, he said, Facebook did not prevail in a way that would entitle it to recover its legal bills.

    A more detailed analysis of the Court decision to dismiss the Friend Finder lawsuit is detailed in my August 2011 post which can be found here.  While Facebook was unsuccessful in recouping their attorneys fees following dismissal of this suit, the overall resolution of this lawsuit is a “victory” for the social media site in the sense that it may deter future lawsuits over its Friend Finder feature under California’s publicity law (and possibly similar laws in other states). 

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