In December 2008, Facebook filed a similarly framed complaint against Power Ventures, the operator of Power.com, an online service that allows social networking users to access all of their accounts through one interface. In Facebook, Inc. v. Power Ventures, Inc. (N.D. Cal. May 11, 2009), Judge Jeremy Fogel denied Power Ventures’s motion to dismiss Facebook’s claims of copyright infringement, violation of the anticircumvention provisions of the DMCA, and violation of federal and state trademark infringement laws for failure to state a claim. Judge Fogel acknowledged the similarity of Facebook’s copyright claims against Power Ventures to the claims in Ticketmaster’s litigation against RMG. Slip op. at 5.
The complaint alleges that the ToU prohibits a variety of activities, including, among other things, solicitation of passwords or personally identifying information for commercial or unlawful purposes; using or attempting to use the account of another user or creating a false identity; using automated scripts; impersonating another person or entity; sending “junk mail” or “spam”; harvesting e-mail addresses; registering for more than one account; and “using Facebook’s website for commercial use without the express permission of Facebook.” The ToU also provides that the limited license granted to access and use the site terminates when the site is used “other than as specifically authorized herein.”
The copyright claim alleges that in violation of the ToU, Power Ventures used its account to access and copy the Facebook Web site, including the Facebook home page for which Facebook has obtained a copyright registration. Complaint ¶ 31, 70. Judge Fogel concluded that the allegations of the complaint made out a sufficient claim of copyright infringement because Power Ventures “need only access and copy one page to commit copyright infringement.” The court also found that the ToU prohibited downloading, scraping or distributing content from the Facebook Web site content except that belonging to the user, and that in any event, using automated methods, i.e., “data mining, robots, scraping, or similar data gathering or extraction methods” to access any content were also prohibited by the ToU. Thus, the court found that the allegation that Power Ventures accessed Facebook via automated means constituted made out a claim of direct copyright infringement, while the allegation that Facebook users utilized the Power.com interface to access their own profile pages made out claim of secondary copyright infringement.
Judge Fogel also declined to dismiss Facebook’s claim that the use of automated scripts to access Facebook copyrighted content bypassed specific technical measures designed to block such access and thus violated the DMCA. The trademark infringement claims were sustained based upon the inclusion in the complaint of a screenshot illustrating the use of the Facebook mark on an e-mail sent by Power Ventures to Facebook users. The court did order Facebook to file a short statement clarifying the basis for its California unfair competition claim.
The complaint also alleges a federal CAN-SPAM claim stemming from the transmission of e-mails to other Facebook users encouraging them to use the Power.com interface. According to the opinion, Power Ventures abandoned its challenge to the sufficiency of the CAN-SPAM claim, as well as its challenge to the sufficiency of the complaint under the CFAA. The CFAA claim also is grounded on the allegation that Power Ventures’s access to Facebook’s computers was unauthorized because it was in violation of the Facebook ToU.