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Hearst Agrees to Pay $50 Million to Settle Data-Privacy Lawsuit

Hearst will pay $50 million to settle a proposed class-action lawsuit that accused the media company of violating a Michigan law prohibiting by selling magazine-subscriber info to third parties.

Hearst declined to comment on the settlement, which was entered Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

According to lawyers for the plaintiff in the case, which was filed in 2015, the $50 million settlement is more than three times the size of any case involving the Michigan law. The Michigan Video Rental Privacy Act bars anyone in the business of selling, renting, or lending books (or other written materials) or audio or video recordings from sharing any personally identifiable information about their customers.

According to the 2015 lawsuit, Hearst sold details about magazine subscribers — including age, race, religion and income level — to data-analytics companies and other third parties. The suit was on behalf of lead plaintiff Josephine James Edwards, a Good Housekeeping subscriber, who alleged that she was . The lawyers for the plaintiffs had sought class-action certification for the suit. Under the terms of the settlement, Hearst is not admitting to any wrongdoing.

In addition to Good Housekeeping, magazines that Hearst allegedly sold subscriber information for include: Cosmopolitan; Country Living; Elle; Esquire; Food Network Magazine; Harper’s Bazaar; O, The Oprah Magazine; Redbook; and Seventeen.

Per the terms of the settlement, Michigan residents who were Hearst magazine subscribers prior to July 30, 2016, are eligible to receive a portion of the settlement estimated to be $155.

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