In April of this year, word got out that Popsugar had allegedly stolen ‘millions’ of personal photos of micro-influencers — online creators with fewer than 10,000 followers — and then using them to generate their own affiliate-link commissions.
Shortly after the accusations went public, executives at Popsugar claimed the misuse of content was an error and that the company would return the money made from the photos, which they say amounted to around $2,695. However, not all who were impacted by the situation were left satisfied with the company’s apology. Now RewardStyle, an invite-only web tool which aims to help bloggers monetize their content through affiliate links, is taking action against the company.
The Dallas-based company appears to be preparing to file a lawsuit against the site, according to The Fashion Law (the publication that first broke the news of the alleged theft). According to the fashion news outlet, Rewardstyle filed a pre-suit deposition petition in a Texas state court late last week.
Filed in the Dallas Country 95th Judicial District, the petition states that the influencer platform “seeks 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.”
“PopSugar stole millions of images from rewardStyle’s LIKEtoKNOW.it website, stripped the affiliate links and technology that facilitate payments to rewardStyle and its influencers, rebranded the images with a new logo where LIKEtoKNOW.it’s logo would normally appear, added affiliate links for rewardStyle’s competitor ShopStyle, and then posted the images on PopSugar’s own website,” the petition reads.
The petition goes on to state that 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.” Such a “motive,” according to rewardStyle “is only reinforced by the previous interrelationship between PopSugar and ShopStyle … a continuing economic interest by their common founder Brian Sugar in ShopStyle’s financial performance.”
rewardStyle isn’t the only one taking legal action against the media company. Last week, Nita Batra filed suit against PopSugar claiming that she was one of the influencers impacted by PopSugar’s actions. Batra filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in a California federal court, alleging that PopSugar “decided to capitalize on the influencers’ social media following by copying and posting thousands of influencers’ Instagram images, [as well as their Instagram profile photos and bio line information] on its own website without authorization.”