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Google not responsible for woman’s good name

by on07 March 2013

You can’t sue

A Wisconsin woman failed in her attempt to get a US court to protect her "wholesome" image after Google searches linked her name to drugs to treat sexual dysfunction.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago said on Wednesday Beverly Stayart could not show that Google violated Wisconsin privacy laws by misusing her name to generate advertising revenue. Stayart said that if you did a search for "bev stayart" on Google you got a recommended search for "bev stayart levitra," which can direct users to websites that offer treatments for male erectile dysfunction.

She claimed that this was at odds with her "positive and wholesome image" linked to her advocacy for animal rights, her research in genealogy, her published poems and her MBA degree from the University of Chicago. Her lack of a penis to be dysfunctional was not mentioned in court.

The three judges said that Google's alleged improper use of Stayart's name fell within the "public interest" and "incidental use" exceptions to Wisconsin's misappropriation laws, either of which would doom the lawsuit. Circuit Judge Ann Claire Williams pointed out that by suing Google she had made the search "bev stayart levitra" a matter of public interest. She also sued Yahoo over similar claims, and she lost.

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