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Several mugshot websites are being sued for allegedly trying to profit off the mugshots they publish, which are allegedly hurting the reputations of people who are later found innocent.
According to an Ohio class action lawsuit, mugshot websites like JustMugshots.com, BustedMugshots.com, MugshotsOnline.com, and FindMugshots.com post mugshots of people after they've been arrested. So when you search for a person's name on Google, for example, you may be able to find that person's mugshot on one of these sites, reports NPR.
However, after a person is later cleared of criminal charges, these websites don't automatically take down the mugshots or update their websites. Instead, only after the person pays a fee of up to $500 will the websites take down a mugshot, the lawsuit claims. The plaintiffs argue that this profiteering off of mugshots violates their rights over their own images.
The lawsuit charges that these mugshot websites violate a person's right to publicity. Basically, the plaintiffs claim that they have the right to control how their own names and likenesses (i.e., their mugshots) are used in the public domain, similar to how someone would own a copyright or patent, writes NPR.
So while a news outlet may be able to publish a person's photo as part of a news item, companies like these mugshot websites may not publish such photos for the sole purpose of profiting off them, the lawsuit claims. The suit asserts that the websites' primary purpose for publishing these mugshot photos is so that those charged with a crime will pay money to remove their pictures.
The lawyer who filed the class-action mugshot website lawsuit hopes to add 250,000 class members. So far, he has two. If the attorney wins the lawsuit, he hopes to recover up to $10,000 for each individual under Ohio's laws, writes NPR.
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