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Category Archives: Internet

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In a Divided Opinion, California Supreme Court Squashes End Run around CDA Immunity That Sought to Compel a Non-Party Online Platform to Remove Defamatory Content

In a closely-followed dispute, the California Supreme Court vacated a lower court order, based upon a default judgment in a defamation action, which had directed Yelp, Inc. (“Yelp”), a non-party to the original suit, to take down certain consumer reviews posted on its site. (Hassell v. Bird, No. S235968, 2018 WL 3213933 (Cal. July 2, … Continue Reading

FOSTA Signed into Law, Amends CDA Section 230 to Allow Enforcement against Online Providers for Knowingly Facilitating Sex Trafficking

Today, the President signed H.R. 1865, the “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017” (commonly known as “FOSTA”).  The law is intended to limit the immunity provided under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (“CDA Section 230”) for online services that knowingly host third-party content that promotes or facilitates … Continue Reading

New York Court Rebuffs Ninth Circuit’s Copyright “Server Test,” Finds Embedded Tweet Displaying Copyrighted Image to Be Infringement

UPDATE: On March 19, 2018, the district court granted the defendant’s motion for certification of the court’s February 15th partial summary judgment decision for interlocutory appeal to the Second Circuit.  In allowing immediate appeal, the court agreed that its prior order “has created tremendous uncertainty for online publishers” and “given the frequency with which embedded … Continue Reading

Canadian Court Asserts Jurisdiction over Craigslist Based on Cloud-Based Virtual Presence in Canada

A Canadian appellate court ruled that a lower court had jurisdictional authority to issue a production order to craigslist based upon its virtual (but not physical) presence in British Columbia. The production order requested that Craigslist produce to Canadian officials documents relating to a user post in connection with a criminal investigation. (British Columbia (Attorney … Continue Reading

Google Extends Commitments with the FTC over Crawling of Third-Party Content for Use in Own “Vertical” Sites

In a blog post last month, Google announced that it would extend certain commitments it made to the FTC in 2012 that were set to expire relating to, among other things,  the scraping of third-party content for use on certain Google “vertical search” properties such as Google Shopping.  The announcement came days before the commitments … Continue Reading

No Liability for Self-Publishing Platforms over Author’s Use of Unauthorized Cover Photo

In a brief, unpublished opinion, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of right of publicity and privacy claims against a host of self-publishing platforms and service providers for distributing an erotic (and purported “less than tasteful”) book whose cover contained an unauthorized copy of the plaintiffs’ engagement photo because the plaintiffs failed to plead more … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Rejects VPPA Claims of Roku Channel User, Declining to Adopt Broad Definition of PII

In a decision that clarified aspects of the video privacy landscape, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an action alleging a violation of the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) based on an assertion that ESPN’s WatchESPN Roku channel had shared a user’s Roku device number and video viewing history with a third-party analytics company … Continue Reading

YouTube Protected by CDA Immunity over Claims That It Provided Material Support to Terrorists

Following the reasoning of several past decisions, a California district court dismissed claims against Google under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 18 U.S.C. § 2333, for allegedly providing “material support” to ISIS by allowing terrorists to use YouTube  (temporarily, before known accounts are terminated) as a tool to facilitate recruitment and commit terrorism.  (Gonzalez v. Google, … Continue Reading

California Court Enjoins Canadian Court’s Global De-listing Order to Google as Contrary to CDA

UPDATE: On April 16, 2018, the British Columbia Supreme Court denied Google’s request to amend the Canadian delisting injunction based on the argument that the injunction would “require it to violate the laws of another jurisdiction, including interfering with freedom of expression.”  (Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Jack, 2018 BCSC 610 (Apr. 16, 2018)).  The Canadian … Continue Reading

Controversial “Gripe Site” Protected (Again) by the Communications Decency Act and Defeats Novel Copyright Attack with Website “Browsewrap” License to User Generated Content

The controversial consumer gripe site, RipoffReport.com, is at it again.  The First Circuit recently affirmed a lower court’s ruling that RipoffReport.com was entitled to immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S.C. §230(c)(1) (the “CDA” or “Section 230”) for defamation-related claims based on certain user posts on its site. (Small Justice LLC … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Denies Appeals of Notable Data Scraping, Computer Fraud Decisions from Ninth Circuit

This past week, the Supreme Court denied the petitions for certiorari in two noteworthy Ninth Circuit decisions that had interpreted the scope of liability under the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) in the context of wrongful access of company networks by employees and in instances involving unwanted data scraping from publicly available websites. … Continue Reading

Google Escapes Genericide Claim in Ninth Circuit Decision

On May 16, 2017, the Ninth Circuit rejected a petition for cancellation of the GOOGLE trademark based on a “genericide” theory that claimed Google should lose its trademark protection because the word “google” has become synonymous to the public with the term “search the internet.” (See Elliott v. Google, Inc., 2017 WL 2112311 (9th Cir. … 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

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

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
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