Friday, October 11, 2013
Courts - More on "Mugged by a Mug Shot Online"
Updating this ILB entry from Oct. 6th, John Caniglia of the Cleveland Plain Dealer had a long story yesterday headed "Lawsuit over mug-shot web sites captures a public records dilemma." From the long story:
A class-action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Toledo claims that companies that post the mug shots and charge money to take them down are nothing more than extortionists.
The suit says the companies are using people like Lashaway in a commercial way to benefit their business, a violation of Ohio's Right of Publicity Law. The suit contends that more than 250,000 people in Ohio have been harmed by web sites such as JustMugshots.com, BustedMugshots.com and mugshots.com.
"What they're doing with these web sites is akin to someone setting your house on fire and then charging you to put it out," said Scott Ciolek, an attorney representing Lashaway and others in the suit. "That's what these companies are doing. In my opinion, it is tantamount to extortion. That's also an infringement on publicity rights." * * *
The federal lawsuit is in its early stages. Ciolek, the attorney for Lashaway and Kaplan, says the web sites' actions have nothing to do with the First Amendment. He said the companies use public documents as a lever to force people to pay to take the photos down.
"When you consider the number of people affected by these web sites, I would consider it one of the largest extortion rings ever perpetrated," Ciolek said.
The lawsuit says that Citizens Information Associates charges customers a monthly membership fee ranging between $12.95 and $19.95 to view photos that are displayed on BustedMugshots.com. The suit says BustedMugshots.com charges an image and name removal fee of about $178 "for rush removal of the booking photos from its web site."
Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 11, 2013 01:09 PM
Posted to Courts in general