New Media and Technology Law Blog

Category Archives: Online Commerce

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Online Vacation Rental Marketplace Sends Claims Packing with Carefully Drafted Terms

In a resounding victory for well-drafted terms and conditions and robust immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S.C. § 230 (“CDA Section 230”), a Massachusetts district court granted summary judgment in favor of HomeAway, the online vacation rental marketplace, on two users’ claims stemming from a dispute over a property listing … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Upholds Uber’s Mobile Contracting Process, Establishing Template for Mobile Online Contracting

In recent years, courts have issued varying rulings as to whether online or mobile users adequately consented to user agreements or terms of service when completing an online purchase or registering for a service.  In each case, judges have examined the facts closely, particularly the user interface that presents the terms to the user before … Continue Reading

New York Attorney General Unveils Latest Ticket Bot Enforcement Actions against Ticket Vendors and Software Developer

With summer concerts and music festivals in full swing, many fans will be surprised to find $145 face value tickets reselling online for $3,000 to $11,000. On May 11, 2017, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman took the most recent step in dealing with this problem, and announced seven settlements in “ticket bot” enforcement actions, … Continue Reading

Auction House Accused of Scraping Competitor’s Web Listings

Screen scraping is a problem that has vexed website owners since the early days of e-commerce – how to make valuable content available to users and customers, but prevent competitors from accessing such content for commercial purposes.  Even in the advent of social media, mobile commerce, and advanced software, the issue remains relevant to today’s … Continue Reading

Craigslist Garners $60 Million Judgment against Radpad in Scraping Dispute

For years, craigslist has aggressively used technological and legal methods to prevent unauthorized parties from violating its terms of use by scraping, linking to or accessing user postings for their own commercial purposes.  In its latest judicial victory, on April 13, 2017, craigslist obtained a $60.5 million judgment against Radpad on various claims relating to … Continue Reading

U.S. Copyright Office Rolls Out New Electronic DMCA Agent Designation System

A service provider seeking to take advantage of certain of the safe harbors under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is required to designate an agent to receive takedown notices. The service provider is required to post the DMCA agent’s contact information on its website and to provide such information to the Copyright Office. On … Continue Reading

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

Claims against Cloud Storage Service Hinge on Grant of Rights Clause

In a dispute that touches on the intersection of copyright, contract law and cloud technology, the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of copyright claims against Barnes & Noble (“B&N”) related to ebook samples stored on a user’s B&N-provided cloud-based locker. Notably, the Second Circuit dismissed the case on contractual grounds, declining the opportunity to opine … 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

Browsewrap Agreement Held Unenforceable – Website Designers Take Note!

In Nghiem v Dick’s Sporting Goods, Inc., No. 16-00097 (C.D. Cal. July 5, 2016), the Central District of California held browsewrap terms to be unenforceable because the hyperlink to the terms was “sandwiched” between two links near the bottom of the third column of links in a website footer.  Website developers – and their lawyers … 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

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

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

European Court Gives Bitcoin a Tax-Free Boost

In an important ruling for digital currency service providers, EU’s top court, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), ruled that transactions to exchange a traditional currency for bitcoin virtual currency, or vice versa, were not subject to value added tax (VAT), effectively treating such transactions like an exchange of cash. (Skatteverket v … Continue Reading

Clickwrap Agreement Available Only Through Hyperlink Enforceable Under New York Law

Last week, the Southern District of New York followed a long line of precedent under New York law and upheld the enforceability of a website clickwrap agreement, granting a website operator’s motion to compel arbitration pursuant to a clause contained in the agreement. (Whitt v. Prosper Funding LLC, 2015 WL 4254062 (S.D.N.Y. July 14, 2015)). … 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

California Supreme Court Denies Review of Ruling Allowing Restaurant Owner’s False Advertising Claims to Proceed Against Yelp

On November 12, 2014, the California Supreme Court denied review of the California Court of Appeals decision in Demetriades v. Yelp, Inc., 2014 WL 3661491 (Cal. App. July 24, 2014), which allowed a restaurant owner to proceed with false advertising and other claims against the consumer review site Yelp based upon Yelp’s marketing claims regarding … Continue Reading

Website Marketing Statements: The Achilles’Heel to CDA Protection?

It’s no secret that local directory/consumer review websites are popular among consumers looking for recommendations before dining out, hiring a contractor, or even picking a dentist or day spa. Yelp reported around 138 million monthly unique visitors in the second quarter of 2014, searching among over 61 million local reviews.  The bottom line is that … Continue Reading

Browsewrap Agreement Held Unenforceable Against Consumer Due to Insufficient Notice

Many commercial websites rely on “browsewrap” agreements to bind visitors to commercial terms. A recent decision by the Ninth Circuit suggests that a review of how those terms are presented may be in order to ensure enforceability. A browsewrap agreement is a set of terms which is accessible via a hyperlink located on the pages … Continue Reading

FINRA Issues Investor Alert Concerning Bitcoin Trading and Speculation

Bitcoin remains fixed on the front pages of the business and technology news for both the salacious and the positive. Much attention has been paid to the collapse of the former top bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox, stemming from the purported theft of nearly $500 million in bitcoins.  The temporary suspension of trading in the securities … Continue Reading

Restore Online Confidence Act Outlaws Online “Data Pass” Transactions and Limits Negative Option Marketing

The lame duck Congress that reconvened following the November elections wasn’t expected to do much, but some legislation got pushed out at the eleventh hour (or perhaps, the one-hundred-and-eleventh hour), including the “Restore Online Confidence Act,” S. 3386 (111th Cong., 2d Sess. 2010), sponsored by Sen. John D. Rockefeller, IV. The Act was introduced following … Continue Reading

What If I Told You Somebody Was Scribbling on Your Web Site?

Let’s say that anybody could write comments on your Web site that were visible to third parties and that you couldn’t prevent it. Those comments might include links to competitive Web sites or products, defamatory statements, or just unwelcome negative comments. And let’s say that your only recourse, if you felt the comments were inappropriate, … Continue Reading

Sixth Circuit Enforces Disclaimers in Consumer Online Clickwrap Terms of Service

In Doe v. SexSearch.com, Inc., the Sixth Circuit considered the appeal of a user of the SexSearch online dating service from dismissal of his breach of contract, fraud and other state law claims (based on Ohio law) against the service for its failure to screen out underage minors. Doe was arrested and charged with unlawful … Continue Reading
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