The business world hasn’t been very good to print publications in recent times as the internet era continues to grow. Rodale Inc., a health and wellness publisher of an array of titles, just took another hit, but this one was allegedly something they could have prevented.
According to The Morning Call, Rodale has decided to settle a lawsuit with their subscribers from Michigan for a sum of $4.5 million. The settlement will be paid out for allegedly disclosing their subscribers’ personal information and histories to third-party marketing companies. The consumers allege that by doing so, the publisher violated their state’s privacy laws under Michigan’s Video Rental Privacy Act.
For their part, Rodale has denied any wrongdoing but decided to settle the case outside of court to avoid future legal fees and the uncertainty of a trial. Probably not a bad route to take, especially in wake of the recent Gawker ruling, which subsequently led to the company’s filing for bankruptcy.
The allegations against Rodale certainly don’t rise to the sort of privacy invasion involved in that case, but it did send a stern warning to others in the industry. According to court documents, a final hearing on the settlement is scheduled for Sept. 7 in federal court in Michigan.
It’s unclear what exactly the third-party marketing companies used the information for, but it likely could have been for things like direct-mail marketing campaigns. U.S. companies spent an estimated $44.5 billion on direct mail marketing in 2014 alone.
The settlement affects approximately 570,000 subscribers of various magazines published by Rodale between July 1, 2009 and May 3, 2016. The specific names of the magazines are: Bicycling, Men’s Health, Prevention, Running Times,Runner’s World, Women’s Health and Organic Life (formerly Organic Gardening).
Those affected that submit claims will receive a portion of the settlement (estimated to be about $100 each). Since Rodale is a privately owned company, details into their finances and how this settlement might affect their business operations are currently unavailable at this time.