What is Privacy Violation?

Amazon.com has found itself within litigation resulting from privacy violations. These issues often arise when an amazon seller has a product that allegedly violates someone’s privacy. This can occur with the sale of books or photographs. In Roe v. Amazon.com, a couple’s engagement photo was taken without permission and placed on the cover of an erotic book, which was then sold through the Amazon.com platform.1 In this situation, Amazon successfully argued that it was not the publisher and not liable for the privacy violation.2

When a party finds a product on Amazon.com that they believe is in violation of their private rights, the issue is primarily with the sellers themselves, not Amazon. Therefore, because Amazon has no control over a third-party’s unauthorized use of a product that violations a person’s privacy, they are often dismissed from the case.

  1. Roe v. Amazon.com, No. 3:15-cv-111, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33297 (S.D. Ohio Mar. 15, 2016)
  • Almeida v. Amazon.com, Inc., 456 F.3d 1316 (11th Cir. 2006).

Plaintiff’s case against Amazon was dismissed as Amazon had no control of a third-party’s unauthorized use of plaintiff’s image.

  • Bowens v. Aftermath Entm’t, 254 F. Supp. 2d 629 (E.D. Mich. 2003).

The court held that the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss is denied, as plaintiff has made a sufficient claim. Additionally, they grant Plaintiffs Motion to Leave to Amend the First Amended Complaint, as doing so would not be in bad faith and the Defendants have failed to show how it would be futile. Finally, the court denied the Motion for Sanctions, as the Plaintiffs’ claims are well founded and therefore there is no need for the court to sanction plaintiff.

  • Bowens v. Aftermath Entm’t, 364 F. Supp. 2d 641 ( E.D. Mich. 2005).

Plaintiffs’ filed a case based on newly discovered evidence and the Defendants’ filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on the basis of res judicata and issue preclusion. The court held that the state court determination precludes the Plaintiffs from re-litigating the issue before the court. Additionally, the court denied each parties motion for sanctions.

  • Bowens v. Aftermath Entm’t, 711 N.W.2d 751 (Mich. 2006).

The court denied the application for leave to appeal the judgment because the court was not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by the court.

  • Bowens v. Ary, 2009 Mich. App. LEXIS 2000 (Mich. Ct. App. Sept. 24, 2009).

The court here reversed an order of summary judgment that dismissed all claims against defendants. The court held that in order to establish a claim for eavesdropping the court must remand in order to determine whether plaintiff intended and reasonably expected that the conversation at issue was private.

  • Bowens v. ARY, Inc., 489 Mich. 851, 794 N.W.2d 842, 2011 Mich. LEXIS 456 (Mich. 2011).

Here, the court reversed the ruling of the appellate court and reinstated summary judgment in favor of the defendants; the evidence showed that “no reasonable juror could conclude that plaintiffs had a reasonably expectation of privacy in the recorded conversation.” Id.

  • Curran v. Amazon.com, Inc., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12479, 86 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1784, 36 Media L. Rep. 1641 (S.D. W. Va. Feb. 19, 2008).

A T-shirt producer’s own website service agreement was insufficient to establish it as only an interactive computer service for Communications Decency Act of 1996. The court further found that immunity on a National Guardsman’s claim of an invasion of the right of privacy in using his picture, taken in a combat zone; dismissal was not warranted.

  • Vecchio v. Amazon.com, Inc., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125399 (W.D. Wash. Sept. 4, 2012).

The court here was determining whether to grant defendants Motion for Protective Order. The court found that plaintiffs’ request fell outside the time from allowed by the court to conduct discovery and thus granted the defendants motion for protective order.

  • Roe v. Amazon.com, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33297 (S.D. Ohio Mar. 15, 2016).

This lawsuit was commenced following an incident where the plaintiffs’ engagement photo was taken without their permission, and placed on the cover of an erotic book. The plaintiffs filed suit against the author of the book, and the publishers of the book, one of them being Amazon. Amazon, along with other defendants motioned for summary judgment. The court, found that Amazon.com was not a publisher,  and granted the motion for summary judgment.

  • Supnick v. Amazon.com, Inc., 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7073 (W.D. Wash. May 18, 2000).

Amazon.com was a defendant in this privacy violation suit brought by Supnick. Plaintiffs motioned for a federal class certification. The court concluded that because the class was maintainable under Rule 23, and that a class action was the best method for litigating the dispute, the plaintiff’s motion was granted.

  • Whitsitt v. Amazon.com, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29887 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 6, 2014).

The plaintiff alleged that he was hired as a temporary employee by defendant SMX Staffing Agency to perform services for defendant Amazon.Com. He asserted that he sought employment with defendant Amazon.Com as a direct hire/permanent employee but was not hired for such a position. Plaintiff alleged violation of employee’s rights under the ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act) and intentional invasion of privacy by defendant Amazon.com. The court recommended that this action be dismissed and ruled in favor of Amazon.com.