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TikTok Is Facing A Class Action Lawsuit by Former ‘Real Housewife’ Bethenny Frankel

American entrepreneur and former ‘Real Housewife’ Bethenny Frankel has filed a class action lawsuit against TikTok for ‘unauthorised ads’. The lawsuit was filed today (Oct 6.) in Manhattan federal court, and states that the video-sharing platform enabled users to create “numerous videos” with her name, image and other features of her “persona to peddle counterfeit goods”.

TikTok Used Bethenny’s Proprietary Content

TikTok is facing a class action lawsuit for violating Bethenny Frankel’s publicity rights. In a class action lawsuit filed before the Manhattan federal court today (Oct. 6), former “Real Housewife, who is also a successful businesswoman, accused TikTok of ‘letting users misuse her and others’ likenesses to endorse products without permission. If you’re a content creator and have faced a similar instance, you can join Bethenny Frankel in her lawsuit.

It has been alleged in the recently filed lawsuit that TikTok enabled users to create “numerous videos” with her name, voice, image and other features of her persona so they could peddle counterfeit goods, violating her publicity rights. Bethenny’s case is being handled by the renowned law firm, “Morgan & Morgan”.

What Exactly Happened?

The “Real Housewives of New York City” released a statement sometime before the news of the lawsuit became official. She stated that a company selling counterfeit products stole her September TikTok video, and reposted it for marketing purposes. Well, TikTok let that happen.

She stated, “It came to my attention that TikTok was disseminating videos using my proprietary content without my consent to sell merchandise with which I have no affiliation,” Frankel said in a statement. “I’ve discovered that this is a widespread issue affecting creators of all sizes across the space. It’s unacceptable, and I want to be a voice for change and use my platform to create a shift in the industry.” 

In the prayer section, Frankel seeks compensation for  “significant damages to her business and reputation, as well as broad changes to impose stricter regulations regarding TikTok’s advertising,” as described by her lawyer at Morgan & Morgan.

Because it’s a class action lawsuit, Bethenny’s lawyers have urged other creators who have undergone through such scams to come forward and potentially join the suit. The bright side is that this class action lawsuit is not being filed only for personal gains. She is pushing for a broad policy change within TikTok.

What’s TikTok’s Response?

When Frankel previously approached TikTok regarding this, they ignored her demands to remove the unauthorised content. John Morgan and John Yanchunis, who are representing Frankel in the class action lawsuit stated that Influencers and content creators spent months building and developing their brands. Not to mention, it takes a long time to gain the trust of their audiences.

The attorneys added, “As the fastest growing social media platform, TikTok has the responsibility to implement measures to detect and stop illegal practices, such as the misuse of their content creators’ names and likenesses.” It was further stated that the alleged videos violated Frankel’s right to publicity and caused significant damage to her business.

“Beyond the damage to her individual business and reputation, these practices deceive and harm consumers. Our goal is to hold TikTok accountable and ensure they take steps to prevent this from happening again,” the counsels concluded in a joint statement.

As for TikTok, the famous social media platform stated that they have strict policies to  “protect people’s hard-earned intellectual property and keep misleading content off of TikTok.”

Despite claiming that they continuously review and improve their policies, the case of Frankel is just one example out of the many victims who continue to face similar issues. FYI, after Bethenny exposed TikTok and warned more than 990,000 followers of the “illegal use of her content”, TikTok removed her video and labelled it “abusive”.

This clearly means that TikTok indeed violated her publicity rights. As for her, the damage has already been done. The class action lawsuit certainly holds a lot of gravity and can be troublesome for the video-sharing site. Keep reading for further updates on this case because if she wins, it’s going to be a win-win situation for many hardworking content creators out there! What do you think?

Mallika
I am Mallika Singh, a lawyer and writer by profession. Writing gives me a sense of freedom and independence. I am a keen observer and an ardent reader. When not at work, you can find me at the stable. Horse riding is another passion that keeps me going.
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