Pantless Couponer Loses Right of Publicity Lawsuit

In the wake of yesterday’s Eleventh Circuit ruling, Anderson v. Coupons (before Judges Wilson, Jordan & Newsom):

Anderson claimed she was arrested in a Best Buy Store after an argument over coupons. According to police, Ms. Anderson was seen showing her stomach and had fallen down from her pant.

Coupons’ website published a article entitled “Pantless Couponer Arrested Following Checkout Dispute” ten days later. This article included a picture of Best Buy’s front door and superimposed images of Ms. Anderson’s booking photo.

Ms. Anderson asserted that Coupons were in violation of Fla. Stat. § 540.08(1)(a), which (as relevant here) prohibits the unauthorized publication or use of a person’s photograph or other likeness “for the purpose of trade or for any commercial or advertising purpose.” The Florida Supreme Court has held that the purpose of § 540.08 “is to prevent the use of a person’s name or likeness to directly promote a produce or service because of the way that the use associates the person’s name or personality with something else.”

Ms. Anderson characterized the Coupons article … as an “advertisement” in her complaint, but the district court ruled that a review of the document demonstrated that it was an article and not an advertisement. And because it was not an advertisement or commercial speech, Ms. Anderson’s claim under § 540.08(1)(a) failed.

We agree with the district court that Ms. Anderson failed to state a plausible claim under § 540.08(1)(a)…. [The material she is suing over]An article about Ms. Anderson’s arrest. This isn’t an advertisement. It is not a commercial advertisement.

Anderson says that Exhibit B, a magazine that she calls a click funnel advertising designed to promote coupon business is Exhibit B. This argument rests on Exhibit B’s line that permits a reader click to get in touch with Coupons regarding advertising. The complaint doesn’t contain claims or allegations about “click funnel advertising,” so Ms. Anderson couldn’t amend her complaint by responding to Coupon’s motion.

Thank you to Media Law Resource Center MediaLawDaily, for this tip.