Bev Stayart Loses Yet Again In Her Quixotic Quest To Blame Search Engines For Search Results She Doesn't Like

from the stayartisms dept

We’ve covered Beverly “Bev” Stayart a few times — and even been legally threatened by Stayart and her lawyer (also named Stayart). As you may recall, Stayart sued Yahoo/Overture after doing a search on her name, and seeing a suggestion that included “levitra” and “cialis.” Stayart took offense to such terms being associated with her name. She tried a few different questionable legal theories including “privacy rights” and that because the search engine made the suggestions, the search engines have liability for impermissably selling her name. It had also kicked off with a trademark claim over her name, despite the lack of any trademark in her name. The threat against us was because she didn’t like some of our comments, which necessitated us having our lawyer explain Section 230 to her as well, after which we never heard from Stayart again. However, after losing in her lawsuit against Yahoo, she sued Google over the same “levitra” connection. Oh, and she appealed and lost her original loss against Yahoo.

Well, she’s now lost her case against Google as well. The court, after mentioning the earlier cases, basically notes that it could have just dismissed the case on Section 230 grounds, but goes beyond that to dismiss the case on the overall merits. It dumps the publicity rights claim by noting that (a) she failed to show her name has any commercial value (needed to get publicity rights) or (b) that Google ever actually made use of her name.

First, plaintiff alleges no facts which suggest that her name has any commercial value or that Google derives any pecuniary benefit as a result of the connection on the internet between her name and sexual dysfunction medications. Second, plaintiff alleges no facts which suggest that Google used her name for any purpose much less that of advertising or trade. Plaintiff?s allegations establish no more than that Google enables internet users to access publically available materials connected to plaintiff?s name. And it is not unlawful to use a person’s name “primarily for the purpose of communicating information. . .”

The court also rejects her claim that Google is selling ads on the phrase “bev stayart levitra” by noting that Google is clearly selling ads just on the term “levitra,” rather than on her name (though, it’s questionable if it’s in any way against the law to sell ads on someone’s name).

Eric Goldman, who wrote the analysis linked above, wonders if she’ll appeal this ruling too and give the Seventh Circuit appeals court “a second mocking opportunity.” Meanwhile, I feel compelled to point out — once again — that the further Stayart tilts out this particular windmill, the stronger and stronger the connections between her name and the terms she finds so objectionable becomes. This was pointed out all the way back when she began this campaign, and it appears she still hasn’t quite understood this concept.

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Comments on “Bev Stayart Loses Yet Again In Her Quixotic Quest To Blame Search Engines For Search Results She Doesn't Like”

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Anonymous Coward says:

I see no one has mentioned content farms yet. Google recently changed their algorithms to end the practice. Before it ended, content farms tended to reflect what ever your search terms were.

If Bev searched with the terms that so upset her, I can guess what she saw somewhere on the search page results. However that wasn’t Google’s doings but rather it was those content farms gaming the system to get higher page ranks to be seen.

While I have no way of knowing this is what happened, it is a strong possibility.

JustMe (profile) says:

Just trying to understand here

So she was concerned about results for “bev stayart levitra” appearing when someone used the words “bev stayart” but not levitra. Sure, I can understand why Bev Stayart would be concerned about people searching for “bev stayart levitra” because she is clearly a respected lawyer and not someone who sells levitra. However, in this case they were probably searching for “bev stayart” and levitra ads happened to show up in the search results page.

Similarly, if you search for “Bev Stayart Marblecake” you do not get any results, but there are two paid advertisements for unrelated products. This does not mean that Bev Stayart makes or sells marblecakes.

I wonder if anyone ever explicitly searched for “bev stayart levitra” when they actually meant to search for “bev stayart” and not levitra. In that case they should use the search term “bev stayart NOT levitra”

Additionally, I wonder if anyone ever searched for “bev stayart cialis”, or “bev stayart cialis levitra” in these search engines, because, as I said, Bev Stayart is a respected lawyer and not someone who sells cialis or levitra for discount prices with guaranteed delivery offered at no cost and a 100% money back guarantee.

Bob says:

Bev Stayart has won a legal victory in Walworth County Circuit Court, Wisconsin, against Various, d/b/a AdultFriendFinder and On May 16, 2012, Judge James L. Carlson ruled that Stayart stated a cause of action for violation of her right of privacy and publicity under Wisconsin law. Judge Carlson denied Various’ motion to dismiss. The case is Stayart v. Various, d/b/a AdultFriendFinder and, Case No. 2011-CV-1115. Stayart alleged that Various used her name on its website, as well as on websites of its affiliates to drive traffic to its online dating service and increase membership. Bev Stayart is represented by John M. Murphy of Murphy, Volbrecht & Kuehn, S.C. in Elkhorn, Wisconsin.

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