Yahoo Sued For Showing Spam Pages About Person’s Name

Eric Goldman uncovered another interesting lawsuit involving Yahoo. This one involves the organic search results showing spam results for a person’s name, where this person is suing Yahoo and Overture for “Lanham Act false endorsement and false designation of origin and violation of Wisconsin’s publicity rights statute and common law privacy rights.”

Let me take you through why this person is suing Yahoo. It is pretty humorous to me, and maybe you will get a kick out of it as well.

  1. Plaintiff searches for her name in Yahoo: Beverly Stayart
  2. Plaintiff sees a spam page in the search results and clicks on it. Keep in mind, at this time, there are a total of seven results returned for her name at this time.
  3. She is then redirected to a bad site named This site had her name centered in a darkened movie screen and ultimately played an adult video.
  4. During this time, her anti-virus and malware tools detect malware and viruses.
  5. She then continues to conduct searches at both Yahoo and Alta Vista for other flavors of search results, including “her name plus an erectile dysfunction drug’s brand name,” said Eric.
  6. Time and time again, her Norton anti-virus tool warned her and she kept on going to these pages.

So she is upset that her name returned these spam pages and is suing Yahoo for it. Well, she got her wish, after all the coverage of this suit, I doubt these spam pages will be in the top ten anymore for her name.

Finally, let me share Eric Goldman’s professional legal opinion:

There are two obvious problems with the lawsuit against Yahoo and Overture. First, if there is or has been even one other Bev or Beverly Stayart in the world, the plaintiff has a real problem proving that the online references were to her and not the other person. And, with all due respect to Ms. Stayart’s lifetime of accomplishments, it would be ridiculous for her to argue that her name is so well-recognized that readers would assume that the references were to her instead of other folks with a common name.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Legal: General | Legal: Privacy | Yahoo: Legal


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • chiropractic

    Looks like nearly all first page results in Google for “Beverly Stayart” are related to the lawsuit.. No spam there. :P

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