New Media and Technology Law Blog

Category Archives: Internet

Subscribe to Internet RSS Feed

Website Design Implicated in Two Rulings on Enforceability of Online Terms – Highlights the Importance of Legal Review of Design Decisions

This past summer, we wrote about two instances in which courts refused to enforce website terms presented in browsewrap agreements.  As we noted, clickthrough agreements are generally more likely to be found to be enforced.  However, even the enforceability of clickthrough agreements is going to depend, in part, on how the user experience leading to … Continue Reading

Know Thy Software Vendor: Website Operator Cannot Sidestep Copyright Infringement Claims over Link to Allegedly Infringing Software

Last month, a New York district court refused to dismiss most of the copyright infringement claims asserted against a website operator based on an allegation that the website linked to an infringing copy of plaintiff’s software stored on a third-party’s servers. (Live Face on Web, LLC v. Biblio Holdings LLC, 2016 WL 4766344 (S.D.N.Y., September … Continue Reading

CFAA Double Feature: Ninth Circuit Issues Two Important Decisions on the Scope of Liability Related to Data Scraping and Unauthorized Access to Employer Databases

Unauthorized Access: A former employee, whose access has been revoked, and who uses a current employee’s login credentials to gain network access to his former company’s network, violates the CFAA. [U.S. v. Nosal, 2016 WL 3608752 (9th Cir. July 5, 2016)] Data Scraping: A commercial entity that accesses a public website after permission has been … Continue Reading

No VPPA Liability for Disclosure of Certain Anonymous Digital Identifiers

Another court has contributed to the ongoing debate over the scope of the term “personally identifiable information” under the Video Privacy Protection Act – a statute enacted in 1988 to protect the privacy of consumers’ videotape rental and purchase history but lately applied to the modern age of video streaming services and online video viewing. … Continue Reading

FTC Prevails in Action against Amazon for Unlawfully Billing Parents for Children’s Unauthorized In-App Purchases

In the wake of thousands of parental complaints about unauthorized in-app purchases made by their children, resulting in millions of dollars in disputed charges, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) brought suit against Amazon, Inc. (“Amazon”) in July 2014. The FTC sought a court order requiring refunds to consumers for unauthorized charges and permanently banning the … Continue Reading

Proposed Amendment to Illinois Law Would Have Changed Shape of Biometric Privacy Litigation

Late last week, the Illinois state senate considered an amendment tacked onto to an unrelated bill that would have revised the Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act, a law that has been the subject of much debate and litigation in the past year.  This amendment had the potential to drastically affect the current litany of lawsuits … Continue Reading

California Court Refuses to Dismiss Biometric Privacy Suit against Facebook

The District Court for the Northern District of California recently issued what could be a very significant decision on a number of important digital law issues.  These include: the enforceability of “clickwrap” as compared to “web wrap” website terms of use, the enforceability of a choice-of-law provision in such terms of use, and a preliminary … Continue Reading

Self-Publishing Platforms Deemed Distributors, Not Publishers in Privacy Suit over Unauthorized Book Cover

We live in a world that has rapidly redefined and blurred the roles of the “creator” of content, as compared to the roles of the “publisher” and “distributor” of such content.  A recent case touches on some of the important legal issues associated with such change.  Among other things, the case illustrates the importance of … Continue Reading

Google Is the Latest Online Provider to Face Class Action over Collection of Faceprints

As we have previously written about, there are several ongoing biometric privacy-related lawsuits alleging that facial recognition-based systems of photo tagging violate the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).  Add one more to the list.  A Chicago resident brought a putative class action against Google for allegedly collecting, storing and using, without consent and in … Continue Reading

Website HTML Is Copyrightable, Even If Look and Feel Is Not

In a notable ruling last month, a California district court ruled that the HTML underlying a custom search results page of an online advertising creation platform is copyrightable. In Media.net Advertising FZ-LLC v. Netseer Inc., No. 14-3883, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3784 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 12, 2016), the plaintiff, an online contextual-advertising service provider, brought … Continue Reading

FTC Releases Big Data Report Outlining Risks, Benefits and Legal Hurdles

The big data revolution is quietly chugging along:  devices, sensors, websites and networks are collecting and producing significant amounts of data, the cost of data storage continues to plummet, public and private sector interest in data mining is growing, data computational and statistical methods have advanced, and more and more data scientists are using new … Continue Reading

FTC Issues Enforcement Policy Statement on Native Advertising in New Media

Digital media marketers are aggressively increasing the use of so-called sponsored content, or native advertising to reach new customers.  Particularly with the growing use of ad blockers on web and mobile browsers, marketers have sought to present advertising in a new form that can circumvent automated blocking and somehow capture the attention of users who … Continue Reading

Photo Storage Service’s Collection of Faceprints May Violate Illinois Biometric Privacy Statute

As we have previously noted, there are several ongoing privacy-related lawsuits alleging that facial recognition-based systems of photo tagging violate the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). The photo storage service Shutterfly and the social network Facebook are both defending putative class action suits that, among other things, allege that such services created and stored … Continue Reading

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act: More Lessons to Be Learned

Courts continue to struggle with the application of CDA immunity to shield service provider defendants from liability in extreme cases. In this case, the Washington Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, affirmed the lower court’s decision to allow a suit to proceed against classified service Backpage.com surrounding the sexual assault of several minors by adult customers … Continue Reading

FCC Adopts Net Neutrality Rules, Reclassifies Broadband Access under Title II

After nearly 4 million public comments, and months of vigorous public, industry, and Congressional debate, the FCC, by a 3-2 vote, approved revised net neutrality rules to “protect the Open Internet.”  As expected by the Chairman’s statements in the lead-up to the vote, the FCC’s Open Internet Order reclassifies broadband internet access as a “telecommunications … Continue Reading

QVC Sues Shopping App for Web Scraping That Allegedly Triggered Site Outage

Operators of public-facing websites are typically concerned about the unauthorized, technology-based extraction of large volumes of information from their sites, often by competitors or others in related businesses.  The practice, usually referred to as screen scraping, web harvesting, crawling or spidering, has been the subject of many questions and a fair amount of litigation over … Continue Reading

Staving Off Scrapers of User-Generated Content with Electronic Copyright Transfers… A Legal (But, Perhaps Not a Practical) Solution

It’s a problem that has vexed website owners since the days of the dot-com boom – how to make certain user-generated content available to users or subscribers, but also prevent competitors and other unauthorized parties from scraping, linking to or otherwise accessing that content for their own commercial purposes. The law on scraping and linking … Continue Reading

Sixth Circuit to Construe Scope of CDA Section 230 Immunity on Appeal of Unusual Jones v. Dirty World Decision

How can a website operator lose the broad immunity for liability associated with user-generated content conferred by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA)? Section 230 has been consistently interpreted by most courts to protect website operators against claims arising out of third-party content, despite some less than honorable conduct by operators.  See, for … Continue Reading

Infringing Copyright? Think Twice Before Removing the Copyright Notice–It Could be Deemed “Copyright Management Information” Under the DMCA

A simple copyright notice (e.g., “© [Year of First Publication] [Owner]”) on a website can imply an assertion of ownership in individual elements of the website and constitute “copyright management information” under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a Texas district court held.  A Texas investment company learned this lesson the hard way when it … Continue Reading

SEC Has Conditional “Like” for Social Media Disclosures by Securities Issuers—A Reason to Reevaluate Electronic Communications Policies and Practices

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission gave disclosures made through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter a conditional “thumbs up” in a Report of Investigation it released on April 2, 2013.  Issuers of securities, the SEC stated, can use social media to disseminate material, nonpublic information without having to make any other disclosures … Continue Reading

Will the Pinterest “Nopin” Tag Put Online Image Owners on the Defensive on Implied Copyright Licenses? Should We Look to Robots.txt as Precedent?

Pinterest is the hot hot hot social media site that lets users create online “pinboards” of interesting or inspiring images. Although users may upload their own images to their pinboards, Pinterest emphasizes the pinning of images from third-party Web sites through the use of inline links. This of course generates yet a new series of … Continue Reading

No “Internet Exceptionalism” For the Second Circuit in Attorney Advertising Ethics Ruling

"Internet exceptionalism" is the notion that the Internet is a special and unique communications medium to which special rules should apply. In the legal field, that notion is manifested in legal rules that have been crafted by judges, legislatures and regulators for application in situations involving Internet communications. In some cases the creation of an … Continue Reading
LexBlog