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In a lawsuit settlement, the owner of two mug shot websites has agreed to no longer charge a fee to people who want their photos taken down.
“The lawsuit came about after a number of complaints from people who said the websites were charging hundreds of dollars to remove the mug shots even if the cases against those arrested had been dropped,” reports The Associated Press.
Scott Ciolek, a Toledo attorney for the plaintiffs, said the lawsuit challenged the websites on grounds that his clients’ images are protected under Ohio’s publicity rights law and that the websites cannot use their persona for commercial gain without written consent.
“This is a major victory for individual rights. But it is only the first step in the protection of these rights in what is becoming a very large industry based on extortion,” Mr. Ciolek said about the settlement.
A settlement applies only to Citizens Information Associates, which operates BustedMugshots.com and MugshotsOnline.com. However, the AP says, “Similar lawsuits have been filed in Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania while legislators in Georgia and Utah have passed laws aimed at stopping the sites from charging to remove arrest photos. Lawmakers in California are considering a similar proposal.”
Sites like these claim to be performing a public service. Others say it’s an exploitative business model.
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