An Illinois federal judge dismissed a proposed class action of lawyers whose business information was published by the online attorney database Avvo without their permission. The lead plaintiff, a Chicago-based personal injury lawyer, claimed that Avvo’s service violates the Illinois Right of Publicity Act.
Avvo is designated to permit users to search for attorneys by location, practice area and other criteria. The company generates revenues by offering attorneys the opportunity to purchase advertising space on competitors’ profiles or to ensure that others lawyers cannot promote on their profile.
In granting Avvo’s motion to dismiss, the Court relied on the First Amendment protection of publishing truthful newsworthy information. The decision compared Avvo’s business model to traditional newspapers that advertise space or a yellow pages directory where businesses can pay for a more prominent listing.