LOS ANGELES (CN) – The founders of Snapchat misled two teenage sisters into posing for a so-called “class project” and then used their faces to promote the business for its “tawdry” sexting apps, the sisters claim in court.
Elizabeth and Sarah Turner sued Snapchat and its founders and principals, Evan Spiegel and Robert C. Murphy on Tuesday in Superior Court.
Snapchat refused a $3 billion buyout offer from Facebook and now is valued at about $10 billion, but the sisters “were never paid anything by Snapchat Inc. or its founders and principals,” they say in the lawsuit.
Elizabeth was 18 and Sarah was 19 when the defendants approached them. They say Spiegel and Murphy had them sign model releases stating that their photos would be used “‘exclusively for the purpose of promoting the Picaboo application for iPhone.’ The Picaboo app for iPhone was later renamed the Snapchat app for iPhone.”
The complaint continues: “The principals of Snapchat Inc. misused the sisters’ photographs for profit and to enhance the defendants’ goodwill and enterprise value. The defendants’ misuse of the sisters’ photographs included extensive promotion of the different and much more frequently used Snapchat app for Android, without even asking for Elizabeth and Sarah’s consent. The principals of Snapchat Inc. used Elizabeth and Sarah’s photographs so prominently and extensively that they have effectively become the ‘faces’ of the Snapchat applications. As a result of the prominent and extensive promotion of their personae by Snapchat Inc. and its principals, Elizabeth and Sarah have suffered having their images tainted by the somewhat tawdry reputation of Snapchat applications, widely reputed to be used as ‘sexting’ apps. For example, Google Images searches of the offensive slur ‘snapchat sluts’ results in the sisters’ photographs, promulgated by Snapchat Inc. and its founders, appearing first at the top of the search results.”
The sisters seek punitive damages for violation of rights of publicity.
They are represented by Eric Engel, with Conkle, Kremer & Engel, of Santa Monica.
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