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Category Archives: Litigation

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Hot Off the Press: The April Issue of Our Socially Aware Newsletter Is Now Available

Posted in Copyright, Discovery, DMCA, E-Discovery, Employment Law, First Amendment, Litigation, Privacy, Wearable Computers

The latest issue of our Socially Aware newsletter is now available here. In this issue of Socially Aware, our Burton Award-winning guide to the law and business of social media, we summarize the current status of various state laws restricting employer access to the personal social media accounts of applicants and employees; we explore how… Continue Reading

Jerked Around? Did the FTC’s “Jerk.com” Complaint Just Turn API Terms Into Federal Law?

Posted in Litigation, Privacy

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) announcement earlier this week that it had filed a complaint against Jerk, LLC and its websites like “jerk.com” (“Jerk”) looks at first glance like a run-of-the-mill FTC Section 5 enforcement action involving allegedly deceptive practices online. But hidden in the facts of Jerk’s alleged misbehavior is a potentially significant expansion… Continue Reading

The Umpire Strikes Back: European Court Rules That ISPs Can Be Forced to Block Pirate Websites

Posted in Copyright, IP, Litigation

On March 27, 2014, the highest court in the European Union—the Court of Justice for the European Union (CJEU)—decided that copyright owners have the right to seek injunctions against Internet service providers (ISPs) requiring the ISPs to block access to pirate websites illegally streaming or making copyright material available for download. The case arose out… Continue Reading

U.S. Courts’ Evolving Approaches to Social Media E-Discovery

Posted in Discovery, E-Discovery, Litigation

Courts across the United States have now made clear that discovery of social media is fair game. At the same time, courts have consistently found that litigants will not be permitted to engage in social media fishing expeditions; rather, litigants will be required to show that the sites likely contain relevant material. We explore below… Continue Reading

Google Ordered to Remove All Copies of Anti-Islamic Film From YouTube After Actress With Bit Part Threatened by Outraged Muslims; Decision Puzzles Copyright Attorneys

Posted in Copyright, Litigation

An aspiring actress moves to California and finds her life threatened. While standard fare for pulp fiction, the case of Garcia v. Google involves a twist on this well-worn plot line that not even the most imaginative Hollywood scriptwriter could invent. Cindy Lee Garcia answered a casting call for a low-budget amateur movie with the… Continue Reading

German Court Rules Against Facebook’s “Friend Finder”

Posted in Litigation, Privacy

On January 24, 2014, in a case filed against Facebook by German consumer protection association VZBV, the Berlin Court of Appeal (“Court”) upheld a lower court ruling that Facebook’s “Friend Finder” function is unlawful. The Court agreed with the Berlin Regional Court’s 2012 decision that the Friend Finder function violates both German data protection law… Continue Reading

You May Not Necessarily Be the Master of Your Domain

Posted in Litigation, Supreme Court, Trademark

The ability to associate goods and services with a specific domain name can make or break a business, so much so that companies are still willing to fork over millions to purchase domain names.  And although you may consider yourself lucky to have registered a catchy domain name that drives plenty of traffic to your… Continue Reading

Uncovering a Line in the Sand: Employee Social Media Use and the NLRA

Posted in Employment Law, Litigation

If an employee calls his supervisor a “nasty motherf[**]ker” on Facebook, would the employee lose the protection that he would otherwise enjoy under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)?  Probably not, according to National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) decisions like Pier Sixty LLC. In Pier Sixty, an employee reacted to a labor dispute by posting… Continue Reading

Refining the First Amendment Status of Social Media Activity by Government Employees

Posted in Employment Law, First Amendment, Litigation, Supreme Court

The Supreme Court’s 1968 decision in Pickering v. Board of Education allows governmental employers, including law enforcement agencies, to fire or discipline employees for disrupting operations with excessive complaining, but it prohibits governmental employers from firing or disciplining an employee for speaking out on matters of public concern as a private citizen if the employee’s… Continue Reading

Hot Off the Press – New Issue of the Socially Aware Newsletter

Posted in FTC, Litigation, Online Promotions, Privacy, Wearable Computers

The latest issue of our Socially Aware newsletter is now available here. In this issue, we explore legal concerns raised by Google Glass; we provide an overview of the growing body of case law addressing ownership of business-related social media accounts; we take a look at two circuit court decisions addressing the interplay between social media… Continue Reading

Ownership of Business-Related Social Media Accounts

Posted in Employment Law, IP, Litigation, Online Promotions

Social media platforms have become an increasingly important means for companies to build and manage their brands and to interact with their customers, in many cases eclipsing companies’ traditional “.com” websites. Social media providers typically make their platforms available to users without charge, but companies nevertheless invest significant time and other resources to create and… Continue Reading

Two Circuits Address the First Amendment Status of Facebook Activity

Posted in Employment Law, Litigation, Privacy, Supreme Court

Two recent U.S. appellate court decisions have clarified the extent to which the First Amendment protects the social media activities of government employees.  In Gresham v. City of Atlanta, the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit found that an individual’s First Amendment interest in posting to Facebook is reduced when he or she configures… Continue Reading

Potential Limitations Placed on Unilateral Right to Modify Terms of Use

Posted in Litigation, Terms of Use

Contractual provisions giving a website operator the unilateral right to change its end user terms of service are ubiquitous and appear in the online terms of many major social media sites and other websites, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google. Although amendments to terms of service quite often cause consumers to complain, litigation regarding such… Continue Reading

Recent UK Court Rulings on Employees’ Use of LinkedIn

Posted in Employment Law, Litigation, Terms of Use, UK High Court

Following our post on U.S. lawsuits concerning the ownership of LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, we report on a recent United Kingdom High Court ruling that considered who was entitled to operate four LinkedIn Groups, and other UK cases that have addressed related issues. Before we describe the High Court’s ruling, it is important to provide… Continue Reading

Court Finds Uniform Commercial Code Applies to Commoditized Software

Posted in Litigation

We’ve all seen the ads on the Internet—computer-optimization software designed to make your old PC operate like it’s brand new. Many consumers see these advertisements and, frustrated with the performance of their computers, purchase such software with the aim of speeding up their sluggish machines. But what happens when the software doesn’t work as advertised?… Continue Reading

Whose @SunValley Is It?

Posted in IP, Litigation, Trademark

Readers of our blog may remember Leonard Barshack as the co-founder of Bigfoot, a popular Internet mail forwarding service that launched in 1995. Barshack, a resident of Sun Valley, Idaho, recently became well-known once again for his role as plaintiff in Barshack v. Twitter, a suit filed in Idaho’s Blaine County District Court on May… Continue Reading

TheDirty.com Goes to Trial

Posted in Litigation, Section 230 Safe Harbor

In 2012, we reported on a pair of district court decisions that, based on similar facts, split on whether defendant TheDirty.com, a gossip website, qualified for immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), the 1996 law that states “[n]o provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the… Continue Reading

German Court Holds Google Responsible for Its Search Suggestions

Posted in Litigation

On May 15, 2013, in a case filed against Google by an entrepreneur selling dietary supplements and cosmetics (the “Plaintiff”), the German Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe (Bundesgerichtshof, the “Federal Court”) ruled that Google must remove any defamatory suggestions generated by its autocomplete search function. The Federal Court overturned an earlier ruling by the… Continue Reading

UK: The Latest Social Media Legal Updates

Posted in E-Commerce, Litigation

In our May 30, 2012 post on the Socially Aware blog—“Should We All Be Getting the Twitter “Jitters”? Be Careful What You Say Online (Particularly in the United Kingdom)”—we considered a variety of UK laws being used to regulate the content of tweets and other online messages. Since that post, there has been a series… Continue Reading

The Second Circuit’s Aereo Math: One Copy + One Subscriber ≠ Public Performance

Posted in Copyright, Litigation

Last week­—the week of May 12, 2013­—proved to be an eventful week for Aereo. On May 14, 2013, the controversial broadcast television streaming service filed a motion for summary judgment in the Southern District of New York on copyright claims brought by broadcast television networks (including ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox) that Aereo’s service directly… Continue Reading

E-Commerce Providers Take Note: New York’s Highest Court Upholds “Amazon” Sales Tax Statute

Posted in E-Commerce, Litigation

On March 28, 2013, the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, issued a decision in Overstock.com, Inc. & Amazon.com, LLC, et al., holding that New York’s “click-through nexus” statute does not violate the Commerce Clause or the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution. As a result, an Internet vendor may be presumed to have… Continue Reading