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Jun 16, 2021

Ancestry.com Ducks Lawsuit Over Yearbook Database

A federal judge dismissed with prejudice claims that Ancestry.com used Californians’ yearbook pictures without permission.

The dismissal comes after a class of Californians sued the genealogy website in November 2020 claiming the site used their old yearbook photos and other information in ads without their permission. The class claimed the company maintains a massive database of yearbook pictures spanning from 1900 through 1999, but that consumers never got a say if they wanted to be included in Ancestry’s databanks.

“Ancestry did not ask the consent of the people whose personal information and photographs it profits from,” the plaintiffs said in their complaint. “Nor has it offered them any compensation for the ongoing use of their names, photographs, likenesses, and identities.”

On top of amassing the yearbook collection without people’s permission, the class said, Ancestry.com then used that database to solicit more users. The class said the company would use photos and other personal information in email and popup ads to potential customers to entice them to subscribe to its genealogy services, and even used photos of gravesites of deceased relatives to pull in more users.

The plaintiffs said this conduct was illegal and violated their privacy rights. They asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler to stop Ancestry from using the database without additional safeguards for users’ personal information.

But after dismissing the suit this past March and sending the class back to the drawing board with their complaint, Beeler dismissed the suit against Ancestry once more Tuesday — and this time for good.

Further details are available in an article by Carson Mccullough published in the Courthouse News web site at: https://www.courthousenews.com/ancestry-com-ducks-lawsuit-over-yearbook-database/.

Jun 16, 2021

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