Bev Stayart Sues Yahoo Again For Violating Her Privacy Rights

from the why-levitra? dept

You may recall a woman named Bev or Beverly Stayart, who sued Yahoo a year ago, because she was upset with the fact that the results of a search on her name pointed to sites she did not wish to be associated with and she did not believe they accurately reflected what a search on her name should show. We pointed out that there seemed to be little chance that Yahoo would be even remotely liable under a Section 230 analysis. Sometime after the post, we were sent a legal threat letter from Ms. Stayart's lawyers demanding that we remove certain comments on that post or face a lawsuit. We responded and explained why we would not remove the comments and never heard back. However, soon after that, the court (as expected) dismissed the lawsuit against Yahoo, and also denied Stayart's request to refile.

Eric Goldman now alerts us to the news that Ms. Stayart has filed a new lawsuit against Yahoo over a slightly different issue. Apparently (and I checked, this is true), if you are using Yahoo's search engine, and you type in the search for Bev Stayart, Yahoo's "suggested search" feature, offers up "bev stayart levitra" as the option after just "bev stayart." Also, on the results page, Yahoo asks you if you want to try "bev stayart levitra" as a search instead.

Ms. Stayart is apparently offended by this connection between her name and the drug Levitra, and claims that Yahoo is responsible for the content. The lawsuit suggests that Yahoo has no safe harbor because this algorithmically generated content is created by Yahoo itself. In many ways, this reminds me of the recent lawsuits we've discussed in France where Google was sued for what its suggested searches put forth.

While I will refrain from commenting on my opinion of the new lawsuit, I will note that if you actually do click through on the search for "bev stayart levitra" on Yahoo, you do get a clue as to why Yahoo connected the terms. It's because at the top of the results is the court's dismissal of the original lawsuit, which includes the court summarizing the situation, with the following statement:
Stayart alleges that Yahoo! and Overture knowingly connected and continues to connect her name (Bev Stayart) with sexual dysfunction drugs Cialis, Viagra and Levitra on its search engine results for her.
In other words, it appears that a big part of the reason for these current results is because of the original lawsuit she filed. And, given that the new lawsuit makes regular use of these terms, you would have to figure that it will remain a commonly combined phrase online. Given all of that, I do wonder if things would have been better off if no complaint had been filed in the first place. All the original complaint did, apparently, was enhance the connection between her name and the drug Levitra in the eyes of Yahoo's algorithm. Now, you can say that Yahoo's suggestion algorithm is weak (it certainly appears that way), but does a bad algorithm violate someone's privacy rights?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    blah, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 4:39pm

    pie in your face

    im gonna make a site with her face and a pie moving at it.
    got something useful to tell us my dear , somehting to contribute to society instead of gaming the laegal system?

    these types do deserve a pie in the face.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 4:44pm

    A google search of bev stayart and the third link is techdirt.

     

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    Tom Landry (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 4:45pm

    perhaps its because the only way to successfully copulate with this person is the ingest vast quantities of ED drugs.....

     

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    RD, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 5:00pm

    yes!

    "All the original complaint did, apparently, was enhance the connection between her name and the drug Levitra in the eyes of Yahoo's algorithm. "

    AWSEOME own-goal! You have to wonder at people too stupid to live, who would create their own problem, then turn around and sue someone for noticing and pointing it out to everyone else.

     

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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 5:19pm

    Howso?

    Now, you can say that Yahoo's suggestion algorithm is weak (it certainly appears that way)...

    How? The only reason I know the name is because of these ill-advised lawsuits.

    Hey Bev, sue your current lawyers for malpractice. That'd drown some of this noise.

    (IANAL, this is not legal advice, piss off lawyers at your (and society's) risk.)

     

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    fogbugzd, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 5:45pm

    Steisand Effect squared

    This seems to be a case of the Streisand effect raised to another level. The first lawsuit attracted the Streisand Effect which in turn created another level of linkage between the terms which is now the basis for a second lawsuit.

     

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    GeneralEmergency (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 6:21pm

    Let's see what we have here:

    From http://www.saponitown.com/forum/member.php?u=1049

    * About Bev Stayart

    Biography
    I am interested in animal rights. We have three dogs and provide a sanctuary in our yard where we feed all wild creatures.
    Location
    Elkhorn, Wisconsin
    Interests
    antiques, reading, travel
    Occupation
    legal assistant

    * Signature
    Gussie

    Yup...There a picture of "Gussie" too:

    Behold the face that launched a thousand eye rubs!
    http://www.saponitown.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4091

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 6:48pm

      Re: Let's see what we have here:

      Oh god, Oh god!


      I am blind because of the picture of Bev Stayart. I think I am going to need ED meds to perform tonite ... ;)

       

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      Phillip Vector (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 9:30am

      Re: Let's see what we have here:

      "where we feed all wild creatures."

      Let's see a cougar or a bear wander into their sanctuary. See how fast she calls animal control. :)

       

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    gyffes, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 6:22pm

    So, can we start a Stayart Effect?

    Perhaps it'll replace the WAY tired "fail"


    "Dude, you so Stayart'd yourself..."

    "OOoooh, now THERE's a Stayart for the ages!"

    "Epic Stayart, asshole"


    We can do for Stayart what Savage did for Santorum!

     

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    IANAL, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 6:22pm

    LegalThin Ice ?

    What are the minimum requirements which define a frivolous lawsuit and does this meet those criteria?

     

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    transmaster (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 6:35pm

    Check out this link. I get idea this lady lives in a fantasy land unknown to all of us.

    http://www.popehat.com/2009/02/17/beverly-stayart-and-the-art-of-search-engine-optimization/

     

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    robin, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 6:48pm

    family ties

    anyone else notice that the papers referenced above:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/25492283/Stayart-v-Yahoo-Amended-Complaint-January-2010

    (whic h is the suit in question) all the way at the end is ms. stayart's lawyer before the court:

    [b]gregory a. stayart, esq.[/b]

    father? brother? husband? cousin? whatever, they are certainly well placed to verify, as per the complaint:

    [blockquote][i]23. Stayart has never engaged in a promiscuous lifestyle or other overt sexual activities.[/i][/blockquote]

    LOL

     

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    GeneralEmergency (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 7:22pm

    I am so proud of Bev.

    "23. Stayart has never engaged in a promiscuous lifestyle or other overt sexual activities."

    Wow! That's sure is great to know that Bev Stayart has never done the Angry Dragon, Arabian Goggles, The Bait N' Tackle, Bear Claw, Beef Curtain, Blumpy, The Bronco, Brown Bagging It, Brown Necktie, Brunski, The Bullwinkle, Butter Face, The Canine Special, The Carpet Cleaner, The Chili Dog, Chocolate Pizza, Cleveland Steamer, Cold Lunch, The Concoction, Cop's Delight, The Corkscrew, Daisy Chain, Davey Crockett, Dirty Sanchez, Dirty Swirly, Dog In A Bathtub, Donkey Punch, DVDA, The Electric Chair, The Fish Eye, Fish-Hook, The Fire Island, Flaming Amazon, Flooding The Cave, The Flying Camel, The Flying Dutchman, The Fountain Of You, Fur Ball, Gobstopper, Golden Shower, Greek, Ham And Cheese Sandwich, High Dive, The Hindenburg, Hogging, Hole In One, Hotdog In A Hallway, Hot Karl, Hot Karl Candy Cane, Hot Lunch, Hummer, The Indian Cock Burn, The Jedi Mind Trick, The Jelly Donut, The Juanita Special Bean Dip, Kennebunkport Surprise, The Landshark, The Lorena Bobbit, The Menthol, The Mellon Dive, Monkey Wrench, The Mork, Moses, The Motorboat, Mushy Biscuit, New Jersey Meat-Hook, New York Style Taco, The Nixon, Oyster, Pasadena Mudslide, Pattycake, Paying The Rent, Peanut Butter And Jelly Sandwich, Pearl Necklace, The Pig Roast, Pink Glove, The Pirate's Treasure, Plating, The Popcorn Trick, Purple Mushroom, The Ram, Rear Admiral, Red Wings, Resuscitation, The Roddy Piper, The Rodeo, The Rose Creeper, The Rusty Trombone, Sandbag, The Seatbelt, Shirley Temple, The Shocker, Shop Vac, Shrimping, Skiing, Slumpbuster, Snerd Nurgling, Snoodling, Snowball, The Snuff, Stingy Nut, Sud N' Fud, Surfing, Swimmer's Ear, 3-Eyed Turtle, The Tortoise, Tossing Salad, Tropical Wind, Tuna Melt, Twisted Sister, Vegetarian Hot Lunch, Wake Up Call, The Walrus, Western Grip, Westside Glaze, The Woody Woodpecker or even the The Zombie Mask!

    What a relief to know that Bev is above all of the above.

    (Gee...I hope Google or Yahoo won't index this page now. That could be a whole new problem. Ya think?)

     

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    bobdobelina, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 9:11pm

    R O F L

     

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    Silverwolf, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 9:44pm

    Search Engine Results

    If you dig further into the yahoo search engine results, it looks like the reason she was linked to levitra and other ed meds is that her name was used as part of the bogus text on a bunch of spam web sites hawking grey market ED meds.

    Here's a snippet from the search results page 2.
    ---------------
    Bev stayart on the share, and that she had just focused in a east ... 661 viagra levitra cialis 953: through short dysfunctions, pfizer recognizes to ...
    ---------------
    And another
    ---------------
    Order geninue Eli Lilly Cialis Tablets for best prices on the net US certified pharmacy ... Bev stayart on the attempt, and that she had always transmitted in a first reach, ...
    --------------

    They are dozens of them starting on the 2nd page of yahoo search results for "bev stayart levitra". It would seem that her complaint is with the owner's of the spam web sights and not with yahoo or any search engine that is only indexing web sights.

    that being said, yahoo could certainly do a better job of keeping spammy web sights out of their index but that's a pretty big job these days and hardly grounds for a lawsuit.

     

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    GeneralEmergency (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 10:43pm

    I again celebrate the demure and chaste Bev Stayart.

    Upon further reflection on the comforting assertion that:

    "23. Stayart has never engaged in a promiscuous lifestyle or other overt sexual activities."

    This makes complete sense really.

    That is why there is -NO SUCH THING- as the Bev Stayart Angry Dragon, the Bev Stayart Arabian Goggles, the Bev Stayart Bait N' Tackle, the Bev Stayart Bear Claw, the Bev Stayart Beef Curtain, the Bev Stayart Blumpy, the Bev Stayart Bronco, the Bev Stayart Brown Bagging It, the Bev Stayart Brown Necktie, the Bev Stayart Brunski, the Bev Stayart Bullwinkle, the Bev Stayart Butter Face, the Bev Stayart Canine Special, the Bev Stayart Carpet Cleaner, the Bev Stayart Chili Dog, the Bev Stayart Chocolate Pizza, the Bev Stayart Cleveland Steamer, the Bev Stayart Cold Lunch, the Bev Stayart Concoction, the Bev Stayart Cop's Delight, the Bev Stayart Corkscrew, the Bev Stayart Daisy Chain, the Bev Stayart Davey Crockett, the Bev Stayart Dirty Sanchez, the Bev Stayart Dirty Swirly, the Bev Stayart Dog In A Bathtub, the Bev Stayart Donkey Punch, the Bev Stayart DVDA, the Bev Stayart Electric Chair or the Bev Stayart Fish Eye.

    Nor is there any Bev Stayart Fish-Hook, the Bev Stayart Fire Island, the Bev Stayart Flaming Amazon, the Bev Stayart Flooding the Cave, the Bev Stayart Flying Camel, the Bev Stayart Flying Dutchman, the Bev Stayart Fountain Of You, the Bev Stayart Fur Ball, the Bev Stayart Gobstopper, the Bev Stayart Golden Shower, the Bev Stayart Greek, the Bev Stayart Ham And Cheese Sandwich, the Bev Stayart High Dive, the Bev Stayart Hindenburg, the Bev Stayart Hogging, the Bev Stayart Hole In One, the Bev Stayart Hotdog In A Hallway, the Bev Stayart Hot Karl, the Bev Stayart Hot Karl Candy Cane, the Bev Stayart Hot Lunch, the Bev Stayart Hummer, the Bev Stayart Indian Cock Burn, the Bev Stayart Jedi Mind Trick, the Bev Stayart Jelly Donut, the Bev Stayart Juanita Special Bean Dip, the Bev Stayart Kennebunkport Surprise, the Bev Stayart Landshark, the Bev Stayart Lorena Bobbit, the Bev Stayart Menthol, the Bev Stayart Mellon Dive, the Bev Stayart Monkey Wrench, the Bev Stayart Mork, the Bev Stayart Moses or Bev Stayart Motorboat that I know of.

    And I certainly have never heard of the Bev Stayart Mushy Biscuit, the Bev Stayart New Jersey Meat-Hook, the Bev Stayart New York Style Taco, the Bev Stayart Nixon, the Bev Stayart Oyster, the Bev Stayart Pasadena Mudslide, the Bev Stayart Pattycake, the Bev Stayart Paying the Rent, the Bev Stayart Peanut Butter And Jelly Sandwich, the Bev Stayart Pearl Necklace, the Bev Stayart Pig Roast, the Bev Stayart Pink Glove, the Bev Stayart Pirate's Treasure, the Bev Stayart Plating, the Bev Stayart Popcorn Trick, the Bev Stayart Purple Mushroom, the Bev Stayart Ram, the Bev Stayart Rear Admiral, the Bev Stayart Red Wings, the Bev Stayart Resuscitation, the Bev Stayart Roddy Piper, the Bev Stayart Rodeo, the Bev Stayart Rose Creeper, the Bev Stayart Rusty Trombone, the Bev Stayart Sandbag, the Bev Stayart Seatbelt, the Bev Stayart Shirley Temple, the Bev Stayart Shocker, the Bev Stayart Shop Vac or Bev Stayart Shrimping.

    But mostly it is refreshing and uplifting to know that the Bev Stayart Skiing, the Bev Stayart Slumpbuster, the Bev Stayart Snerd Nurgling, the Bev Stayart Snoodling, the Bev Stayart Snowball, the Bev Stayart Snuff, the Bev Stayart Stingy Nut, the Bev Stayart Sud N' Fud, the Bev Stayart Surfing, the Bev Stayart Swimmer's Ear, the Bev Stayart 3-Eyed Turtle, the Bev Stayart Tortoise, the Bev Stayart Tossing Salad, the Bev Stayart Tropical Wind, the Bev Stayart Tuna Melt, the Bev Stayart Twisted Sister, the Bev Stayart Vegetarian Hot Lunch, the Bev Stayart Wake Up Call, the Bev Stayart Walrus, the Bev Stayart Western Grip, the Bev Stayart Westside Glaze, the Bev Stayart Woody Woodpecker and the Bev Stayart Zombie Mask simply do not exist.

    Because if overt sexual activities like these did in fact exist, I'm sure a Google, Yahoo or perhaps even a Bing search would find references to such abominations.

    Whew! I'm sure glad that'll never happen. I would be very, very dissapointed in Bev.

    Wouldn't you?

    .

     

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      Mr RC (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 2:57am

      Re: I again celebrate the demure and chaste Bev Stayart.

      Dude .... WOW .. I'm lost for words at that display of awesome..

       

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      nasch (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 8:58am

      Re: I again celebrate the demure and chaste Bev Stayart.

      "23. Stayart has never engaged in a promiscuous lifestyle or other overt sexual activities."

      Only covert sexual activities?

       

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    identicon
    Devonavar, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 10:49pm

    Top result is now this post

    Congratulations. The top result for "Bev Stayart Levitra" is now this post. I think the speed at which this happened suggests that very little was associated with Bev Stayart until she filed a lawsuit ... and then Mike started writing about it.

     

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    mordred kaides, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 3:14am

    uh-oh

    and another lawsuit will be imminent, for if you see the sshortend hyper link on the previous artile wich links to this article it reads:

    "Bev Stayart sues yahoo for violating her..."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 4:49am

    Bev Stayart has made herself a public fiqure

    It looks like Bev Stayart has successfully elevated herself to the status of a public figure with not one but two lawsuits.

    Is this really Yahoo!'s fault? Don't they use Bing as the search engine now?

     

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    Richard (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 4:17pm

    Something similar

    Something similar happened to me the other week. At a committee meeting I attend someone objected to a particular phrase in the minutes of the previous meeting because it made his organisation look undignified, He asked for it to be removed from the minutes.

    The secretary replied. Sure - we can remove it from the minutes for that meeting - but then the minutes for this meeting will read "XXX requested that the phrase "YYY" be removed from the minutes....

    When you're in a little hole ..don't dig...

     

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