A proposed class action initially filed on July 20 against PopSugar Inc. and PopSugar Media Inc. has found its way from county to district court in California.
PopSugar runs a pop culture website that deals in celebrity news, entertainment and fashion while boasting its own shopping platform. The lawsuit’s two named plaintiffs allege PopSugar has, since at least early- to mid-2017, scraped from internet influencers—i.e. bloggers who position products on social media and monetize their original content through affiliate links to said products—“content, photos, brand, likenesses and logos” for its own purposes without permission and for its own commercial gain.
Worse still, the complaint charges PopSugar used bloggers’ content to create profiles for the internet influencers on its website without including revenue-generating affiliate links from replicated blog posts, instead replacing the links with those to PopSugar’s Ebates-affiliated ShopStyle platform. Rather than pay out the influencers who originally created the blog posts, these links instead diverted money to PopSugar for every click made on posts that were allegedly stolen from proposed class members.
From the lawsuit:
“PopSugar did not receive permission from, or even notify, any influencer of its actions, much less pay them for use of their identities and likenesses or for the revenue they unknowingly generated for PopSugar. Thus, PopSugar not only misappropriated influencers’ identities and likenesses; it interfered with influencers’ business relationships and profited off their substantial investment of time, effort and expense. In the process, PopSugar also brazenly and unlawfully usurped influencers’ means of monetizing their own work by replacing their affiliate links with PopSugar’s own.”