The Northern District of California dismissed a class action lawsuit against Ancestry.com on Tuesday with prejudice, ruling that the company’s use of yearbook photos did not cause harm to those who were depicted in the yearbook.
The court found that the plaintiffs did not have Article III standing because there were no “concrete” injuries or damage caused to them. The filing noted that Ancestry’s profiting from the use of these images does not lead to “injury.”
Judge Beeler dismissed the first amended complaint, noting that the amendments did not “change the analysis in the court’s earlier order.” This comes after Ancestry’s successful motion to dismiss the lawsuit and their reply seeking to dismiss the first amended complaint.
Furthermore, the court stated that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provided immunity for Ancestry since it was “publishing third-party content provided to it for publication” and clearly not the original content creator of the yearbooks that were the center of the case. Therefore, the complaint was dismissed as they failed to prove either of these two necessary components to reverse the Court’s earlier ruling.
The case stemmed from a complaint filed on December 1, 2020 when the plaintiffs found that their high school yearbooks were being used on Ancestry’s databases and for promotional material. The plaintiffs alleged that Ancestry “knowingly misappropriate(d) the photographs, likeness, names, and identities of Plaintiffs and the class.” The plaintiffs sued for violations of California’s right to publicity, the California Unfair Competition Law, California’s common law right protecting against Intrusion upon Seclusion, and the California Unjust Enrichment law, also claiming that Ancestry did not have immunity under the Communications Decency Act.
Ancestry.com is represented by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP.