Will LinkedIn luck out?
LinkedIn recently asked the judge presiding over its case to dismiss a lawsuit which accuses the social networking site of misappropriating member names and images in an effort to expand membership.
The lawsuit was filed a year ago as a potential class-action. The case centers on allegations that LinkedIn emails users’ friends, soliciting them to join up with the professionally-oriented site. The plaintiffs who are suing contend that “LinkedIn violated a California law about endorsements by using their names and images in emails to their friends,” according to a story on the matter at MediaPost.
LinkedIn isn’t the only site that has wrestled with this law and its ramifications. Facebook was also forced to defend itself against a class-action suit alleging that the site’s “sponsored stories” ads misappropriate users’ identities.
The law provides for damages of up to $750 per incident, the report notes, adding that Facebook ultimately agreed to settle the matter for a cool $20 million.
While the consumers at first asserted that the company violated the federal wiretap law by hacking into their accounts to seek out their friends’ email addresses, the U.S. District Judge in the case threw out that claim, but did grant that the LinkedIn members had agreed to an initial email solicitation but not the successive follow-up emails.
What the complainants see as unapproved marketing tactics LinkedIn now portrays as a free speech rights issue.
“LinkedIn now argues in court papers filed this week that it has a free-speech right to send follow-up emails, on the theory that the service helps people to communicate with each other,” according to MediaPost.
“As a platform for creating professional networks of people, LinkedIn promotes the rights of speech and association guaranteed by the First Amendment,” the social network for professionals argues in its latest motion requesting dismissal of the lawsuit. “Accordingly, reminder emails, which refer recipients to communications from LinkedIn members expressing their desire to connect … facilitate associations among people and therefore concern matters of public interest.”
So, do you think LinkedIn will prevail? More importantly, should it? Please weigh in with your thoughts or comments below.