Losing Plaintiffs Ask for Post-Appeal Motion Against Ancestry in Right to Publicity Case #usa #records

Jan Meisels Allen


On June 16, 2021 the IAJGS Records Access Alert posted about  Ancestry’s Yearbook Collection class action lawsuit being dismissed with prejudice. The litigation alleged Ancestry amassed photographs, names, likenesses and identities without permission to sell subscription access to the information and advertise Ancestry services and products—their Yearbook Collection. The plaintiffs alleged Ancestry’s conduct was illegal and their privacy rights were violated.


“In a 12-page order, the judge wrote that for a suit like this to succeed, those bringing it would have to show how Ancestry’s operation of its database resulted in actual injury to those whose pictures and information are stored within it.”  The judge found the amended complaint failed to do so.  ““The cases recognizing mental anguish all involve other injury,” she wrote. “There is only mental anguish here, and alone, it is not injury in fact.”


In the June order, the Court also found the yearbook pictures are not private enough to warrant special protections. The judge also stated, Ancestry came by the photos in part through donations from former students, and a reasonable person would assume that it was donated to the genealogy company to help with their services — including for publication and marketing. Given the low expectation of privacy for photos like that, she found the company had a right to use them.


Dick Eastman in the Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter posted about a post-appeal motion ruling filed in Ancestry’s right to publicity case, TransUnion LLC v Ramirez. The case was originally dismissed with prejudice, which means it cannot be reopened, but the post-appeal motion asserts an “intervening change in controlling law”. 


The motion can be read at:



To read Eastman’s Newsletter article see: https://www.eogn.com/page-18080/11125798

For more information see: https://lawstreetmedia.com/tech/post-appeal-motion-for-indicative-ruling-filed-in-ancestry-com-right-to-publicity-case/


To read the previous postings about Section 230, big technology, privacy issues and more go to the archives of the IAJGS Records Access Alert at:  http://lists.iajgs.org/mailman/private/records-access-alerts/.   You must be registered to access the archives.  To register go to: http://lists.iajgs.org/mailman/listinfo/records-access-alerts and follow the instructions to enter your email address, full name and which genealogical organization with whom you are affiliated   You will receive an email response that you have to reply to or the subscription will not be finalized.


Jan Meisels Allen

Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee