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Court Rules Against Woman Who Didn't Like Search Results

samzenpus posted about 4 years ago | from the beverly-by-any-other-name dept.

The Courts 173

The Seventh Circuit Court has ruled that Beverly Stayart can't sue Yahoo! because she did not like what she saw on the results page after searching for her name. Stayart claimed that her "internet presence" was damaged by Yahoo! because results for a search of her name showed listings which included pharmaceuticals and adult oriented websites. The court disagreed. From the article: "Stayart had sued under Section 43(a) of the federal Lanham Act, which prohibits false advertising, false implications of endorsement, and so on. Her problem was that a Lanham Act claim requires a showing that the plaintiff has a 'commercial interest' to protect, and Stayart did not have a commercial interest in her own name."

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But.... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33785748)

Someone like Tiger Woods or Steve Jobbs could sue Yahoo!?

Re:But.... (2, Interesting)

Sylak (1611137) | about 4 years ago | (#33785772)

So could she but using a different part of the law.

Re:But.... (2, Funny)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | about 4 years ago | (#33785856)

Let the Streisand Effect begin. :S

Anti-Streisend effect....? (5, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | about 4 years ago | (#33786070)

The hundreds of news stories about this trial seem to have swamped the juicy links and made them vanish.

Is this an 'anti-Streisand' effect?

Re:Anti-Streisend effect....? (2, Funny)

alta (1263) | about 4 years ago | (#33786168)

Yes, I've noticed the same. overall, she won. Yahoo'ing for her (weird word) doesn't turn up anything juicy, just this lawsuit. Damn, the Seventh Circuit Court just got USED!

Re:Anti-Streisend effect....? (1)

cb88 (1410145) | about 4 years ago | (#33786474)

Yes and if I searched her name I would find that she is the sort of person I do not want to do any business with.

Re:Anti-Streisend effect....? (1)

alta (1263) | about 4 years ago | (#33786622)

she should consider suing herself.

Re:But.... (1)

ciggieposeur (715798) | about 4 years ago | (#33785860)

Also a "person" like BP, Exxon, Halliburton, IBM, Nike, etc.

Re:But.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33785864)

Court ruled that you must have a commercial interest to protect if you are going to pursue an action under law that says you must have a commercial interest to protect. No big surprise there

But I doubt Woods or Jobs could sue Yahoo! for their search results. Woods, at least, has a commercial interest in his name. But its the the indexed sites that would be damaging his interests. Search engine, not so much.

Re:But.... (2, Insightful)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | about 4 years ago | (#33785966)

Someone like Tiger Woods or Steve Jobbs could sue Yahoo!?

Perhaps they could, but hopefully it would depend on whether Yahoo itself was engaging in such practices, for otherwise it should be granted immunity (that is, it shouldn't be held responsible for what third-party websites do simply because they appear in Yahoo's search results). In any case, I don't think the court was implying the woman would have a valid case if not for her lack of commercial interest. Why bother exploring other issues when you've determined the plaintiff has no standing?

Re:But.... (5, Insightful)

mea37 (1201159) | about 4 years ago | (#33785984)

More likely the judge is just using the most open-and-shut logic applicable in order to put this to bed at minimal cost to all involved. My gut reaction was that this was a Bad Thing, as it left the door open for other litigious behaviors; but when I thought about it, that's the right thing for the court to do: address the case at hand, narrowly.

Probably we could have a grand old time arguing about who's responsible for keyword associations, and who owns what, and on and on... but when the law in question can be quickly shown as inapplicable by examining a single fact, what's the point letting her dump money into an effort that forces Yahoo and the taxpayers to spend additional money as well?

If she's really committed to wasting resources, perhaps she'll have her lawyer come up with another theory with which to bring a suit that cannot be so quickly set aside; if so, I guess the fun will start anew.

Re:But.... (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 4 years ago | (#33786304)

Well part of her problem is the system works on relevancy. There are scores of businesses which deal with optimizing web searches. If her brand or name was important to her as say Tiger Woods, she could spend less money on using the system to get search results that she wanted rather than sue. It does not appear she did that. Judges tend not to like it when your first reaction is to sue. Lawsuits should be the measure of last resort, not the first.

Re:But.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33786450)

But I hugely disagree with the reasoning. In this world, we *all* have a commercial interest in our own name. Whatever else we may sell, we have to sell ourselves every time we go looking for work.

That said, I wonder how this differs from libel or slander, and whether those portions of law can't be refactored.

Re:But.... (5, Interesting)

zeropointburn (975618) | about 4 years ago | (#33786488)

Just curious, but isn't it a commercial interest in the modern world when search results are used as part of employee screening? If my name brought up a bunch of scams and raunchy porn in a web search, it is quite possible that a prospective employer would decide not to hire me because of it (in whole or in part). This could be an impact in decisions that directly affect my income.

My guess is that the legal meaning of 'commercial' has little to do with the common meaning, thus leading to my irrelevant conjecture above.

but but butt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33786098)

Fogwet Tiger Woods, I have a vewy gweat fwiend in Wome called 'Biggus [censored - this is a family show]'

Re:but but butt (1)

mcneely.mike (927221) | about 4 years ago | (#33786286)

And then he watched 'Caligula' starring Malcolm McDowell and went... "this ain't no family show, is it Dickus.

Re:But.... (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 4 years ago | (#33786222)

Well, anybody can sue. She did herself.

The important part is winning. She didn't. Now, the part of the law that got her suit thrown out wouldn't necessarily be the same part that would get the same suit by a publicly recognizable figure, but that doesn't mean that their own suits wouldn't also be thrown out - just because of a different part of the law.

Re:But.... (1)

mcneely.mike (927221) | about 4 years ago | (#33786262)

Let me fix that for you....
Tigger Woods or Steve Jobs

Be Honest (4, Funny)

Ironhandx (1762146) | about 4 years ago | (#33785776)

How many of you just went to google images and turned safe search off and searched for this womans name?

I think the answer will illustrate just how bad an idea this was for her.

Re:Be Honest (1)

Ironhandx (1762146) | about 4 years ago | (#33785814)

Though apparently the search will not. Having posted that I actually went and did that myself and came up empty. Given what I did see there I'm wondering what she's complaining about...

Re:Be Honest (2, Informative)

satuon (1822492) | about 4 years ago | (#33785890)

I think her complaint is with Yahoo.

Re:Be Honest (4, Informative)

Ironhandx (1762146) | about 4 years ago | (#33786024)

If you RTFA(I know, I know) she sued both Yahoo and Google, but they haven't tossed the google case out of court yet.

Re:Be Honest (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 4 years ago | (#33786072)

    I did it and came up with what looked like avatar photos on a bunch of forums.

  It's pretty easy for any of us to figure out the rest. If her name and her picture are on a bunch of forums that are not well maintained (i.e., spammed heavily) then they have both been related to each other pretty well. That would make the search engines accurate to associate the two. Well, as accurate as those get. If you do the same search for me, you'll see on page 3, I died on August 21, 1939. Damn, I missed my own funeral.

Re:Be Honest (1)

Ironhandx (1762146) | about 4 years ago | (#33786206)

True, but all I saw were some avatar photos on sites that didn't look that bad.

Also, I share your pain. I died on March 9th, 1962.

Re:Be Honest (1)

hex0D (1890162) | about 4 years ago | (#33785878)

it getz meh seal of approval.

no, seriously, whatever she saw is now ruined by the Steisand effect.

Re:Be Honest (1)

grub (11606) | about 4 years ago | (#33785990)


How would it be the Streisand Effect? She isn't trying to bury something that is spreading across the net against her wishes.

Re:Be Honest (1)

hex0D (1890162) | about 4 years ago | (#33786346)

She was embarrassed by what was associated with her name. Now many, many, many more people are aware that there were embarrassing things associated with it, things that probably were nowhere near as bad as people are likely to imagine upon scanning a headline.

She will forever be that 'chick whose name search produced ciallis ads' to me and many others now.

Re:Be Honest (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | about 4 years ago | (#33785968)

I'm at work so I don't dare do such a thing, but based on natural assumptions alone... when are people going to learn how the Streissand Effect works?! If you don't want attention the best thing you can do is ignore somebody. Trying to silence them is about as effective as handing them a megaphone, because in addition to whatever 'interesting' thing they were saying about you before, they can now additionally talk about how you're suppressing them to a forum which above almost all other things despises suppression as antithetical to its essential nature.

I didn't see anything. (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | about 4 years ago | (#33786154)

I did the search with the "SafeSearch" off and saw nothing of any significance.

So all she has to do is start a business in her na (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33785786)

So all she has to do is start a business in her name and sue again?

Re:So all she has to do is start a business in her (1)

cryoman23 (1646557) | about 4 years ago | (#33785820)

from the sounds of it ya, if going to go about in the same direction to try and sue that is

Re:So all she has to do is start a business in her (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33785922)

That would get her farther than she got this time, but she still probably wouldn't win. Arguing that she's suing under the wrong law was just the easiest way to get the case thrown out.

Re:So all she has to do is start a business in her (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 4 years ago | (#33786094)

If she did that then the results might skew to her business and would unlikely be able to sue. The original cause was that some sites like adult websites use a variety of means to get more hits. For search items that don't really have an internet presence, they might skew towards these questionable results. Once a web presence is established then the results might be more related to her.

Thought EVERY search came up with pharm/adult site (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33785788)

Turns out it was just me. How did they know I like drugs and sex?

Sudden outbreak of common sense (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 4 years ago | (#33785790)

I don't care what sort of drivel or ads they put in with search results for my name. Anyone with an ounce of sense would mentally filter the results, disregarding all such irrelevancies.

I dunno about that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33785928)

I don't know about that. I, for one, am kind of worried about what this might mean. IANAL (and disclaimer: I do work in SEO) but this seems like a good decision for all the wrong reasons and in the wrong situation.

I'm all for you not being able to sue when you've made information public and search engines index that. But she doesn't have commericial interest in her own name? Really, now? Seeing how many employers, etc. google a candidate's name before the interview, I think that everyone has commercial interest in their own name (Hell, I've certainly spent quite a few hours in ensuring that the results list looks nice for my name, just because of my commercial interests. Then again, when you work in SEO/Internet advertising, search engine results for your name are pretty vital). Also, does this mean that a company or other such entity with commercial interest in their name could still sue for search engine result page?

Re:I dunno about that... (2, Insightful)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 4 years ago | (#33785994)

If her employers search for her name using a search engine and trust spam links and such, well, that's not a company she would want to work for anyway, I assume. They'd be fucking idiots (like people who judge others based on behavior online, which has nothing to do with their behavior offline in most cases). Yahoo is just a search engine anyway, they don't and shouldn't have any or little responsibility for websites they link to.

Re:I dunno about that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33786196)

GP here.

If her employers search for her name using a search engine and trust spam links and such, well, that's not a company she would want to work for anyway, I assume. They'd be fucking idiots (like people who judge others based on behavior online, which has nothing to do with their behavior offline in most cases).

I agree with you, but only partially. IE: I do agree that they would, in many cases, be idiots. But that doesn't mean that such idiots don't exist or even that they are rare. As such, I do think that people have commercial interest in search results for their name, whether that would be the case in utopia or not. And economy being what it is, we really can't make an assumption that a person wouldn't want a job anyways if someone in HR is an idiot!

Yahoo is just a search engine anyway, they don't and shouldn't have any or little responsibility for websites they link to.

Not disagreeing with you there. As I said, a good result but it seems to me that the reasoning behind it isn't as good (even if it is legally sound).

Re:I dunno about that... (2, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 4 years ago | (#33786138)

Well, I just typed "Anonymous Coward" into Google. Not a single page about SEO. Seems your SEO abilities are not that good. ;-)

Re:I dunno about that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33786166)

Re:I dunno about that... (1)

digitig (1056110) | about 4 years ago | (#33786452)

I'm all for you not being able to sue when you've made information public and search engines index that. But she doesn't have commericial interest in her own name? Really, now? Seeing how many employers, etc. google a candidate's name before the interview, I think that everyone has commercial interest in their own name

If you Google for my name you'll get a pile of results that are me and a pile of results for other people who have the same name. If I have a commercial interest in my own name, so do they. If they don't like what I'm posting because it happens to have their name on it, I don't see why they should be able to sue me for doing it in my own name, and vice versa. Have people really not learned yet that a name is not a unique identifier?

WHO? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33785796)

Yeah, because when I search for Beverly Stayart, what I'm looking for are pharmaceuticals and sexual escapades.

Re:WHO? (1)

suso (153703) | about 4 years ago | (#33785886)

Maybe her hope was that by starting a lawsuit, she would bury those sites with news articles about her own case.

Beverly Stayart free porn (4, Funny)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | about 4 years ago | (#33785798)

Beverly Stayart free porn sex sex anal Beverly Stayart free free porn sex sex anal sex midget teen teens sexy sex Beverly Stayart dirty sex orgy anal lube sex sex teens Beverly Stayart free porn sex sex anal Beverly Stayart free free porn sex sex anal sex midget teen teens sexy sex Beverly Stayart dirty sex orgy anal lube sex sex teens Beverly Stayart free porn sex sex anal Beverly Stayart

Python? (4, Funny)

snspdaarf (1314399) | about 4 years ago | (#33786476)

Beverly Stayart free porn sex sex anal Beverly Stayart free free porn sex sex anal sex midget teen teens sexy sex Beverly Stayart dirty sex orgy anal lube sex sex teens Beverly Stayart free porn sex sex anal Beverly Stayart free free porn sex sex anal sex midget teen teens sexy sex Beverly Stayart dirty sex orgy anal lube sex sex teens Beverly Stayart free porn sex sex anal Beverly Stayart

"Could I have that without so much Beverly Stayart in it?"

"You mean free porn sex sex anal free free porn sex sex anal sex midget teen teens sexy sex dirty sex orgy anal lube sex sex teens free porn sex sex anal free free porn sex sex anal sex midget teen teens sexy sex dirty sex orgy anal lube sex sex teens free porn sex sex anal? Eugh!"

"What do you mean, 'Eugh!'? I don't like Beverly Stayart!"

So what if she did? (4, Interesting)

KnownIssues (1612961) | about 4 years ago | (#33785804)

So what if she did have a "commercial interest" to protect? Could the court have ruled that Yahoo! could be sued for search results in that case? How would you prove that it's not just someone with the same name? It's almost too bad she didn't have a commercial interest to protect, because it would be interesting to see what the ruling would have been in that case. And it would be even more interesting to see how Yahoo! could comply.

Re:So what if she did? (2, Insightful)

ktappe (747125) | about 4 years ago | (#33785888)

So what if she did have a "commercial interest" to protect?

I don't understand how she could NOT have a commercial interest to protect. Each of us is an employable worker, which is a business contract for both employer and employee. If her ability to become employed is damaged by Yahoo search results on her name (and we should all assume prospective employers are Googling/Yahooing the names of applicants), then that budding business contract could be materially damaged.

Re:So what if she did? (1)

StuartLaJoie (648375) | about 4 years ago | (#33786006)

I wholeheartedly agree. Without looking at the merits of Ms. Quixote's case, I can't imagine the tortured process this court must have gone through in determining that a modern US citizen has no commercial interest in their own name. Googling new hires/clients is commonplace, as are surreptitious background checks, which means any negative information, even when demonstrably false, can hurt a person's commercial interests.

Re:So what if she did? (4, Insightful)

tool462 (677306) | about 4 years ago | (#33786054)

And in her case, she should be glad her search results are polluted with links that are obviously unrelated to her. It will cause any potential employer who might search her name to question the legitimacy of anything he finds.

Re:So what if she did? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33786064)

You must be confusing us for corporations. They're exactly like people except they have rights.

Re:So what if she did? (1)

jd (1658) | about 4 years ago | (#33786188)

And money. Rights and money. And soda machines.

Re:So what if she did? (1)

Late Adopter (1492849) | about 4 years ago | (#33786078)

If her name is trademarked for business purposes, like Donald Trump, then yes. But this is far more appropriate for a defamation suit, which (I can only guess) her lawyer thought would be harder to win.

Re:So what if she did? (3, Informative)

Loadmaster (720754) | about 4 years ago | (#33786128)

A "commercial interest" is not just whatever someone thinks it is. To maintain an action under the Lanham Act you must meet the definition of a "commercial interest" as used/implied by the Act. The court tells you what that means in the opinion.

Stayart’s argument hinges on the claim that by virtue
of her extensive activities, her name has commercial
value. These include: humanitarian efforts on behalf of
baby seals, wolves and wild horses; what she describes
as “scholarly posts” on a website; two poems that
appear on a Danish website; and genealogy research.
To determine whether a person or entity has standing
under 43(a), we look at whether they have “a reasonable
interest to protect” in a commercial activity. Dovenmuehle,
871 F.2d at 700; accord Stanfield v. Osborne Ind., Inc.,
52 F.3d 867, 873 (10th Cir. 1995). Indeed, standing to
assert a 43 claim is limited to a “purely commercial class
of plaintiffs.” Berni v. Int. Gourmet Rest. of Am., 838 F.2d
642, 648 (2d Cir. 1988) (quotation omitted). While
Stayart’s goals may be passionate and well-intentioned,
they are not commercial. And the good name that a person
garners in such altruistic feats is not what 43 of
the Lanham Act protects: it “is a private remedy for a
commercial plaintiff who meets the burden of proving
that its commercial interests have been harmed by a
competitor.” Made in the USA Found., 365 F. 3d at 281
(quotation and brackets omitted). We addressed a
similar scenario in Dovenmuehle where we held that,
under the Lanham Act, relatives who had no commercial
interest in their family name did not have a
reasonable interest to protect in the trade name
“Dovenmuehle, Inc.,” and thus lacked standing to sue.
Dovenmuehle, 871 F.3d at 700.

Court opinions are not black boxes. If you want to know why the Judge decided a certain way then read the opinion. It will tell you everything you need to know about that very specific case. If you want to know about "but what ifs" you'll have to look at other cases or look to dicta. Courts don't go on long tangents of hypotheticals.

Re:So what if she did? (1)

jd (1658) | about 4 years ago | (#33786282)

I would have thought that the key part of the Act was not the "commercial interest" but the fact that it requires that said interests be damaged by a competitor.

In this case, it is most unlikely Yahoo! is a competitor in the baby seal rescuing market. And to judge by past performance, it's hard to describe them as much of a competitor at all.

The advantage of that approach is that charities are quite significant businesses and those who are, in effect, charity celebrities have market value by right of being celebrities. That leaves the door open for an appeal and lawyers getting richer for no obvious benefit to anyone.

Re:So what if she did? (1)

bws111 (1216812) | about 4 years ago | (#33786220)

If you're going to file a claim under trademark law (Lanham Act), step one would be to own a trademark.

Re:So what if she did? (1)

Fnkmaster (89084) | about 4 years ago | (#33786332)

Based on the description of her claimed "commercial" interest in her name, I'd say it's because she's idle and rich, or a dabbling housewife. In either case, it seems true that she had no real commercial interest in her name. Would definitely have been more interesting had this been a professional actively seeking a job who had filed this lawsuit.

Re:So what if she did? (1)

hhw (683423) | about 4 years ago | (#33786376)

Well, any potential future employer can now see how litigious she is, which is going to be much worse than having unrelated spam links show up. I don't think too many employers want to hire a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Re:So what if she did? (2, Insightful)

catbutt (469582) | about 4 years ago | (#33785940)

Maybe, but this case didn't get that far. It didn't say anything on whether the case would have merit if things were different, it just pointed out the first reason why this one can't go further.

Application for hire - not a commercial interest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33785946)

Doesn't everyone have a commercial interest? Are employers prohibited from doing search on you when making decision to hire?

Re:So what if she did? (1)

jaredharbour (1915008) | about 4 years ago | (#33786108)

If she had a commercial interest I would hope she would have a website. Assuming the content on said website was higher quality than porn I'm not sure she would have a case. When it comes to search results content is still king.

sanity prevails (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33785806)

Sanity prevails

Re:sanity prevails (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | about 4 years ago | (#33785898)

Not really - it was rejected because she couldn't show damage to commercial interests, not because it was bat-crap insane. If this ruling is followed through to its logical conclusion, anyone who DOES run a small business (or a large business) will be able to bring a sucessful claim against a search engine because their algorithm leaves unsavoury results near legitimate information about that person. Now, that doesn't mean that any other court will accept this position (doesn't say it's a precedent-setting appeal decision), or that they will just flip the coin over and follow to the logical conclusion, but it's not a great victory for common sense either (as evidenced by the fact that the ruling harps on about why X obscure law doesn't apply, rather than applying some common sense).

Re:sanity prevails (2, Insightful)

canajin56 (660655) | about 4 years ago | (#33786130)

You have a bizarre version of logical conclusion. For example, let us say a crazy person brings a wrongful death suit against Google, on the grounds that their father had a heart attack after getting some porn in his search results. If the court rejects the claim because the father did not die from his heart attack (and thus it cannot be wrongful death without a death) the logical conclusion is NOT that Google would be automatically guilty any time anybody does die while using the internet.

In this instance, a woman was suing Yahoo! because somehow, if you search for a name, any search results are implicitly endorsed by the person whose name that is. Not just one of them, but somehow, all of them in the world all endorse all of those matches, even though the name doesn't appear in the matches. She sued under false endorsement laws. The court refused to hear the case, on the grounds that false endorsement laws require the person to have a commercial interest in making an endorsement. The court specifically didn't even consider whether or not Yahoo! was making any kind of endorsement whatsoever.

Anyways, if somebody sues under, as you put it "X Obscure Law" then of fucking course the court rules on whether or not "X Obscure Law" applies. That is its one and its only job.

Re:sanity prevails (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | about 4 years ago | (#33786264)

No, it means that she can't sue because of a lack of commercial interest. Nothing is said about other reasons for throwing the case out - one is enough.

Re:sanity prevails (1)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | about 4 years ago | (#33786396)

See, that doesn't make sense to me. If someone's argument is wrong at several points, you explain each & every single point where it is wrong. You break every point in the logical chain that you can.

She sued because her name came up with unsavoury results, that's insane and I'd rather it be thrown out because it's fundamentally insane than because this particular means of trying to establish liability doesn't apply. This way it just looks like an open door for (a) her to try and get in with a different law (b) anyone else with a commercial interest to protect to fire up a search engine and see if they have an unexpected payday waiting.

I understand that it's not how the courts usually work, but that doesn't mean I have to think the status quo is the right way for them to operate.

Re:sanity prevails (2, Insightful)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | about 4 years ago | (#33786562)

See, that doesn't make sense to me. If someone's argument is wrong at several points, you explain each & every single point where it is wrong. You break every point in the logical chain that you can.

Why? It's enough to dismiss the case. If they want to try again, they can refile.

I'd rather it be thrown out because it's fundamentally insane

Sure, but that's more work. This is cut and dried, so no need to examine and prove the insanity therein.

This way it just looks like an open door for (a) her to try and get in with a different law (b) anyone else with a commercial interest to protect to fire up a search engine and see if they have an unexpected payday waiting.

a) she's welcome to try and b) this isn't something that establishes precedent (IANAL), so nothing changes.

yahoo could classify pages (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 4 years ago | (#33786294)

baysian classifiers can do a good job on emails. Why not on web pages ? The index entry could be tagged with adult , pharmaceutical etc .

Re:sanity prevails (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | about 4 years ago | (#33786506)

Even if this insane lawsuit was defeated not by common sense but by narrow word of the law, keep in mind that insane lawsuits sue based specifically on the word of the law to begin with, using it to further insane agendas. This is just a stupid lawsuit dying by its own sword.

Business model (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 4 years ago | (#33785832)

Damn, the judge destroyed her business model in one stroke of his pen.

Online presence protection (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 4 years ago | (#33785840)

There are online presence management companies that actively fight this kind of negative publicity.

As long as you can make use of these services, it should not be possible to sue. It should be up to the individual to manage their own online presence.

Sounds like a protection racket to me (1)

Moraelin (679338) | about 4 years ago | (#33786242)

There are online presence management companies that actively fight this kind of negative publicity.

As long as you can make use of these services, it should not be possible to sue. It should be up to the individual to manage their own online presence.

Hmm? So basically I can smear your name with any crap I can think of, and it should be ok because you can then pay some other sleazeballs to link-spam and game google to bury the nasty bits?

Surely you can't be serious there.

For a start it's basically a DIY protection racket. If your "presence management" link-spammer business is slow, just buy adwords in some people's names and, hey, you can't be sued if they don't want to pay money to have that crap removed.

But, generally, that's not how justice or the law were supposed to work in any society. The idea that someone's only recourse if they're wronged is to pay some goons to do right it -- because that's essentially what you advocate there -- is wrong on several levels. Not the least being that basically it means you can be a bully as long as you can make it too expensive for the other guy to repair the damage done. And it's usually cheaper to damage than repair.

But generally, we don't rule that keying cars is ok because you can pay for a new door. We don't rule that throwing a brick through someone's window is ok because they can just pay for a new window. We don't rule that "boosting" someone's TV is ok because they can pay for a replacement TV. And we sure as heck don't rule a libel campaign ok because someone could just pay an agency to buy every copy of that newspaper to keep people from finding it.

I seriously don't see why here the victim should shut up or pay some spammers to cover something that isn't the victim's fault. Surely _if_ some malicious mis-representation has been done (which here doesn't actually seem to be the case), then it shouldn't be expected that the victim _also_ makes a financial loss to fix that.

Backwards thinking court (2, Insightful)

StuartLaJoie (648375) | about 4 years ago | (#33785854)

Googling a potential new hire or business associate for background information has become too widespread for anyone to have "no commercial interest" in their name. False information, even when obviously false, can and does adversely affect anyone looking for jobs or business opportunities beyond paper hats and drivethroughs. It goes to show how out of touch this court is from the mainstream of society.

Re:Backwards thinking court (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33785924)

That's the first thing I thought of. We all have a commercial interest in our name in that we want to be hired for a job when we apply for one and most certainly do not want bad search results to make an employer think twice.

Re:Backwards thinking court (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 4 years ago | (#33786010)

Again, that is just insane. What kind of fucking retarded employer would not only judge someone based on online behavior (which mostly has nothing to do with offline behavior, as people react differently offline than online in most cases), but trust spam results and such? Not one you'd want to work for, that's who.

Re:Backwards thinking court (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33786268)

You have a stack of 125 resumes for a position. You look up each name in google and within 15 seconds decide to toss or keep. This quickly (or not quickly because of sheer volume) eliminates a large percentage of the people, making your job easier... Or take the time to accurately see if they match or not. Now which one seems more probable?

Re:Backwards thinking court (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 4 years ago | (#33786522)

"You look up each name in google and within 15 seconds decide to toss or keep"

There's the first mistake! Instead of (tedious, but accurate) actually finding out their skills, they take the quick and inaccurate way out and judge people by online behavior (which might not even be them).

"Now which one seems more probable?"

Which one seems more fair and accurate? This is the error of lazy employers.

Re:Backwards thinking court (1)

StuartLaJoie (648375) | about 4 years ago | (#33786270)

Again, that is just insane. What kind of fucking retarded employer would not only judge someone based on online behavior (which mostly has nothing to do with offline behavior, as people react differently offline than online in most cases), but trust spam results and such? Not one you'd want to work for, that's who.

The kind of employer who happens to be a Fortune 100 company, for starters. The one I work for monitors internet postings (like the one I'm writing) on many social networking sites, search results, and public records for employee or potential employee activity which may damage the company's public image or leak sensitive/proprietary information. If the information that the company does so weren't considered public knowledge, I would never have considered posting here. While most companies, my employer included, use (at least) a "human" filter for the gathered data, many rely on simple algorithms or third-party search agents which may provide a number of false positives.

The unfortunate fact of business life inside the corporate suite is that your life outside does directly affect your earnings and advancement. For instance, tweeting about a hobby the boss doesn't like (dog fighting, poetry slams, line dancing, whatever) can easily take a job offer off the table or cause the HR department to start the death-spiral paper trail. Facebook photos from high school or college where the subject is involved in illicit, distasteful, or bacchanalian behavior can quickly erase a large portion of lifetime earning potential should they be found and individually identifiable.

Re:Backwards thinking court (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 4 years ago | (#33786542)

"can easily take a job offer off the table"

So in other words, be a mindless drone? Yes. I realize that, however, that doesn't make it any less idiotic.

Re:Backwards thinking court (1)

SomePoorSchmuck (183775) | about 4 years ago | (#33786420)

Quite the contrary -- it is your two comments on this same topic which are of questionable rationality. Unless maybe someone else is paying your bills? For most people, and particularly in the last 10 years, the list of "employers you'd want to work for" consists chiefly of those who are willing to, you know, employ you and send you a regular paycheck for the foreseeable future.

I have no idea why you are apparently working from the assumption that the job-hunting process involves sitting on the living room floor sorting the numerous large stacks of job offers into piles of "Employers I'd Want To Work For" and "Employers I Wouldn't Want To Work For".

That may be fine on the Neal Stephenson Snow Crash Libertarian Workers' Paradise of Slashdot, but real people have real families with real medical bills and real hunger, and when faced with a choice between selling their skills today for real money, food, and medication, versus the inedible and scant comfort of a moral victory at not choosing to work for "some kind of f-ing retard employer" while sitting at home scared to answer the phone because of the collection agencies... well, I don't know why you're so intent on excoriating the working folks who are trying to make ends meet in a tough economy that could sink even farther over the next ten years.

Re:Backwards thinking court (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 4 years ago | (#33786568)

"consists chiefly of those who are willing to, you know, employ you and send you a regular paycheck for the foreseeable future."

Now, now. I said "want to work for" not "need to work for." I was demonstrating that they are obviously idiots.

"I have no idea why you are apparently working from the assumption that the job-hunting process involves sitting on the living room floor sorting the numerous large stacks of job offers"

I didn't, you just misinterpreted what I said.

Re:Backwards thinking court (4, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 4 years ago | (#33786122)

Someone who is googling and not testing whether the results are false is probably someone you don't want to work for. Also someone who googles a lot would hopefully recognize that sort of thing happens a lot.

Re:Backwards thinking court (2, Insightful)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | about 4 years ago | (#33786178)

Someone who is googling and not testing whether the results are false is probably someone you don't want to work for.

That's not a luxury most people have.

Re:Backwards thinking court (1)

Loadmaster (720754) | about 4 years ago | (#33786334)

This court decided the case using the Lanham Act which is the law plaintiff chose. If a name is now a "commercial interest" it isn't defined that way by the Lanham Act. Use a different law if you want to sue. The court can only rule on the evidence presented and the law plaintiff invokes. The court does not state that there is no "commercial interest" in their name, just that plaintiff has no "commercial interest" in her name as defined by the Lanham Act. Again, plaintiff chose the Lanham Act. The court did not rule on this case after invoking the Lanham Act sua sponte.

Re:Backwards thinking court (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33786582)

I have often told clerks that they don't need my name for purchasing item X and furthermore: "My name is too high a price to pay for anything." Everyone's has an intrinsic value, even though they or someone else may have made it virtually *worthless*. I haven't read the law in question and thus can not speak as to how it defines "commercial interest" and I do agree that her lawsuit is silly and Yahoo has no obligation to defend her name other then not intentionally creating libelous content.

Re:Backwards thinking court (1)

Neil Watson (60859) | about 4 years ago | (#33786412)

False is rather relative in the case of search results. The results may be false for one person and accurate for another. Further I believe that search engines often rank results on popularity which has little to do with accuracy.

Homophones (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | about 4 years ago | (#33785862)

Was Yahoo's search engine not able discriminate between Stayart and "Stay Hard"?

eBay (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | about 4 years ago | (#33785894)

Where there any sponsored ads to buy her on eBay? Inquiring minds want to know.

What (1, Interesting)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 4 years ago | (#33785902)

Yahoo is just a search engine, as far as I know they don't have any responsibility for the websites that people find while using it (if they do, they shouldn't). Good thing she lost, because she's a fucking idiot.

perfect job for 4chan... (2, Funny)

hex0D (1890162) | about 4 years ago | (#33785918)

...posting images associated with her name that are truly offensive. It would actually be a good object lesson in why not to file stupid lawsuits like this.

I feel for her, sorta (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33785956)

I have to say I was pretty annoyed when I googled my preferred screen name and saw the 9th or 10th result was someone else using this combination of 7 seven letters for an account on a site for collecting images of a highly questionable nature, risque anime-style art of clearly immature girls. Strangely, the screen name is a "made up word" that is pronounceable but has no clear connection to any latin based language.

I am gonna sue Slashdot (1)

vawarayer (1035638) | about 4 years ago | (#33785974)

I don't like my /. Karma. Brace for impact.

Does that mean I can't sue? (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | about 4 years ago | (#33786018)

Because everytime I google myself, I get all those pictures of dumb-looking men, many of whom buy car insurance from small lizards.

Her initials sum up her case... (1)

hex0D (1890162) | about 4 years ago | (#33786030)

they're both BS

RTFA (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 4 years ago | (#33786106)

...baby seals, wolves, and wild horses;

Kinky.

...'scholarly posts' on a website

Of course. All of my posts are scholarly as well.

She got what she wanted (4, Interesting)

guyminuslife (1349809) | about 4 years ago | (#33786116)

She may have lost in court, but if you search for "Beverly Stayart" now, the first result is actually her.

Be careful what you wish for.

I totally agree with her! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33786156)

I am totally feeling Beverly here.

-- James P. Goatse

This isn't idle. (2, Insightful)

colmore (56499) | about 4 years ago | (#33786158)

This is a somewhat important story. It isn't idle.

The interesting thing here is that her suit worked. I just searched google and yahoo for Beverly Stayart, and none of the kind of websites she was talking about came up.

Bad ruling (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about 4 years ago | (#33786428)

The court shouldn't've ruled she had no commercial interest in her name. Down that path lies a situation where nobody can get redress for libel and slander because they had no interest in their good name. They should've ruled simply that nobody has a right to be the only subject of any particular search. She can hold the search engine liable if she can show the results weren't responsive to that particular search but the search engine put them in anyway. She can't hold the seach engine liable for results that are responsive to her search but merely refer to someone other than her. But she can hold someone liable if they're presenting material that isn't associated with her and isn't associated with what it's being presented as but they're associating it nonetheless. Ie. if a Web site's presenting images that aren't of you or about you, but they're tagging them with your name, you can sue the Web site (but not the search engine that led you to it).

Beverly Stayart? Pfffft. (4, Funny)

bobdotorg (598873) | about 4 years ago | (#33786480)

Let's just hope that Bobbie Goatse never googles herself.

Wouldn't it have made more sense to sue her folks? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 4 years ago | (#33786564)

[facetious remark]They were the ones who gave her that name, after all... [/facetious remark]
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