PopSugar Slapped with Yet Another Lawsuit in $500 Million Influencer Scheme

Two more influencers have filed suit against PopSugar after the fashion and celebrity news website allegedly stole millions of images from influencers in furtherance of a “massive infringement” scheme. On the heels of Los Angeles-based influencer Nita Batra filing a multi-million dollar suit against PopSugar in a California federal court earlier this month, alleging that PopSugar “decided to capitalize on the influencers’ social media following by copying and posting thousands of [their] Instagram images, [as well as their Instagram profile photos and bio line information] on its own website without authorization,” Cathy O’Brien and Laura Adney filed what could be a multi-million dollar suit of their own.

O’Brien, who runs the site, Bay Area Fashionista, and Adney, of Have Need Want, claim in their suit, which was filed in a California state court on Friday, that “thousands of influencers across the country recently learned that PopSugar … have impersonated and misappropriated their internet identifies without their consent since early or mid-2017.” In particular, “PopSugar scraped influencers’ content, photos, brand, likenesses, and logos, and used them to create profiles for each influencer on [the “Looks” section of] the PopSugar website for [its] own commercial gain.”

Still yet, O’Brien and Adney allege that “Popsugar even removed influencers’ [monetizable rewardStyle/LIKEtoKNOW.it] affiliate links from the posts replicated on its website and replaced them with ShopStyle links that would instead pay PopSugar for every click made on the influencers’ posts … [without] permission from or even notifying any influencer of its actions, much less pay them for use of their identities.” 

As a result, the influencers allege that PopSugar has violated California Unfair Competition Law, California’s Common Law Right of Publicity, Intentional Interference with Contractual Relationship, and Unjust Enrichment, and is seeking an array of monetary damages. They are also asking the court to approve their class action lawsuit, and enable hundreds of other influencers to join in their case against PopSugar. 

RewardStyle/LIKEtoKNOW.it has also initiated legal action against PopSugar, “seeking to perpetuate testimony and investigate potential claims, including misappropriation, theft, and conspiracy, arising from the copying, alteration, and unauthorized use of content from rewardStyle’s LIKEtoKNOW.it platform.” According to the Dallas-based influencer/ affiliate marketing platform’s filings, the imagery at issue created “nearly $500,000,000 in retail sales for rewardStyle,” which alleges that “ShopStyle had just as much to gain from the misappropriation of influencer images and re-direction of the sales they generated.” 

* The case is Cathy O’Brien and Laura Adney v. Popsugar Inc. and Popsugar Media Inc., 3:18-cv-04405 (N.D.Cal).