Plaintiff Who Keeps Suing Search Engines Still Not Clear on Streisand Effect

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Me in 2010, on Stayart v. Yahoo:

“Like many,” this opinion begins, “Beverly Stayart was curious about what she would find when she put her name into a search engine.” And like many, Beverly Stayart was not happy with what she found. Unlike anybody else, however, Beverly Stayart sued the search-engine company, claiming that the results it associated with her name falsely gave the impression she personally endorsed the products and services listed, including various pharmaceuticals and what the Seventh Circuit called “websites promoting sexual escapades.” On September 30, the court affirmed the dismissal of Stayart’s claim….

In April, Stayart sued Google on essentially the same grounds, and sooner or later, will get essentially the same result.

The Seventh Circuit recently, on Stayart v. Google:

Dissatisfied with the results of internet searches for her name, Beverly Stayart has launched a legal campaign against internet search engines. In this, her third lawsuit, she contends that Google is in violation of Wisconsin misappropriation laws because a search for “bev stayart” may lead to a search for “bev stayart levitra,” which in turn may lead to websites advertising drugs to treat male erectile dysfunction. The district court dismissed her lawsuit for failure to state a plausible claim for relief and … we affirm.

Amusingly, one of the reasons Bev lost this time is that she made such a big fuss over it last time. There is a “public interest” exception to misappropriation laws, and the court found that “Stayart made the challenged search phrase ‘bev stayart levitra’ a matter of public interest by suing Yahoo! over it in 2010. And as a matter of public interest, that phrase cannot serve as the basis for a misappropriation suit.”

The court did not actually mention the “Streisand Effect,” which Wikipedia defines as “the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide or remove a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the internet,” but this is yet another excellent example of that.