Supreme Court Shelters U.S. Federal Gov’t Violations of Credit Card Privacy Laws: Do As I Say, Not As I Do
In its first opinion of the new term, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against a class action brought against the federal government for violating privacy / identity theft protection laws by printing credit card numbers and expiration dates on receipts, determining that the federal government is not liable for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Continue reading
Despite the advances that have been made promoting diversity among people of different races, ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientation, there still exists an unfortunate stigma against those with HIV. One big issue that comes up often for those with HIV is the inadvertent disclosure of HIV status by health professionals, hospitals, doctors, nurses, and other practitioners who have access to this information. Continue reading
A Sears’ janitor has been arrested for installing up to 60 hidden cameras in womens’ restrooms and fitting rooms.
Three female employees who learned about the peeping-tom have hired lawyers and are attempting to sue Sears for allegedly “doing nothing” about the situation.
Obviously, videotaping others undressing and using the bathroom is illegal. But the question is whether Sears is on the hook for the illegal actions of its janitor. Usually, companies are not responsible for the criminal actions of their employees unless the criminal actions were taken as part of the employee’s job duties, or that the actions furthered the company’s business.
However, Sears could be sued for failing to supervise the janitor, negligently hiring the janitor, if the janitor had any kind of history of being a peeping-tom that a background-check would have revealed, or failing to fire him, if Sears knew about the filming but did nothing. Time will tell.
You would think that it would be clear by now – it is not permissible (nor legal) to use celebrities’ names, pictures or likenesses to sell your products or services, unless they consent. Last week, there were two fresh “Right of Publicity” allegations that surfaced:
In the first, Hollywood gossip website TMZ reported that a local Mexicali plastic surgeon, Victor Ramirez, decided to promote his services by putting up a billboard of Kim Kardashian wearing a bikini, without her knowledge or approval.
Earlier in the week, True Blood star (Sam Merlotte’s shape-shifter girlfriend) and “The L Word” actress Janina Gavankar sued a LA clothing company, claiming that the company used her image to promote its plus-sized clothing line, without her permission.
All of this is, of course, entirely unauthorized if the actresses did not agree to have their names and likenesses promoted in this manner. In California, individual privacy rights include the “right of publicity,” and makes it illegal for companies or individuals to use the names or likenesses of others, without their permission.
To be successful, claimants must generally demonstrate that there was a use, for profit, of the individual’s identity, without consent, that resulted in injury to the individual. There are several exceptions, such as the use of or likeness to report news-worthy events, or a use that is so “transformative” that its primary value is not derived from the celebrity’s fame.
The Plastic Surgery billboard does not appear to make the cut (no pun intended). Although TMZ reported that KK was considering whether to bring suit, the big issue is probably going to be whether it is worth the time to pursue Dr. Ramirez thorugh the Mexican court system.
For Gavankar, on the other hand, it may be too early to tell. Her lawsuit against Jasmine USA and its CEO, David Youshouafar, is underway LA Superior Court for now, and it will be seen whether the allegations are fact or fiction.