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Consumer

Judge Wants Info On Minors’ ‘Likes’ Before Facebook Immunity Ruling

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(Credit: AP)

(Credit: AP)

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A Los Angeles judge said Thursday she needs more information before ruling on Facebook’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging it commercially misappropriated the names and likenesses of minors without parental consent.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Debre K. Weintraub said she wants additional briefing regarding Facebook’s argument that it is immune from the allegations, including unfair competition, under federal law.

The suit was filed Aug. 26 by parents of minors David Cohen and Shelby Orland, whose lawyers maintain there have been more than one million instances where Facebook has misappropriated the names of minors like them for profit.

The plaintiffs want to add additional parties and make their suit a class-action.

The complaint concerns Facebook’s “Like” button and the social networking site’s ads that include photos and text descriptions of Facebook users who give their nod of approval to the company or the ad.

The plaintiffs believe that Facebook must get parental consent before using minors’ “Likes” for commercial gain.

Lawyers for the minors allege they and other underage users are being exploited by Facebook in order to charge higher rates for ads.

Facebook lawyers maintain the claims are barred by a provision of the federal Communications Decency Act that says no provider of an interactive computer service like their client can be found liable for information provided by others. They say Facebook users like the plaintiffs voluntarily disperse their information on Facebook pages.

Weintraub said she wants more briefing on whether Facebook should be treated as an information content provider insofar as the “disputed activities” alleged in the suit are concerned. She also said she wants to know
if the minors themselves can be deemed information content providers.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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