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Category Archives: Litigation

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She Liked It. She Really, Really Liked It: Federal District Court Holds Facebook Fan Page Manager Doesn’t Own “Likes”

Posted in Litigation

A federal district court broke new social media law ground in August 2014 when it held in favor of the cable network Black Entertainment Television (BET) in a suit brought by the founder of an unofficial Facebook fan page for one of the network’s television shows. In holding that BET acted lawfully when it asked… Continue Reading

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

Posted in DMCA, FDA Regulations, Litigation, Privacy, Statistics, Supreme Court, 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 examine the use of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to combat web scraping; we explore the launch of Google Glass in the UK… Continue Reading

Data for the Taking: Using the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to Combat Web Scraping

Posted in Litigation, Privacy

“Web scraping” or “web harvesting”—the practice of extracting large amounts of data from publicly available websites using automated “bots” or “spiders”—accounted for 18% of site visitors and 23% of all Internet traffic in 2013. Websites targeted by scrapers may incur damages resulting from, among other things, increased bandwidth usage, network crashes, the need to employ… Continue Reading

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

Posted in FTC, IP, Litigation, Privacy, Terms of Use, UK High Court

The latest issue of our Socially Aware newsletter is now available here. Welcome to a special privacy issue of Socially Aware, focusing on recent privacy law developments relating to social media and the Internet. In this issue, we analyze a controversial European ruling that strengthens the right to be forgotten; we examine a recent California… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Stifles Aereo, but Tries to Keep the Cloud Away

Posted in Copyright, IP, Litigation, Supreme Court

In a closely watched case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today in a 6-3 decision that Aereo’s Internet streaming service engages in unauthorized public performances of broadcast television programs in violation of the Copyright Act, reversing the Second Circuit’s decision in American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc. (No. 13-461). In ruling against Aereo, the… Continue Reading

Court Holds That DMCA Safe Harbor Does Not Extend to Infringement Prior to Designation of Agent

Posted in Copyright, DMCA, Litigation

The safe harbor provisions in § 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provide a mechanism that insulates online service providers from monetary damages for infringing materials posted or stored by their users.  To receive this protection, service providers must designate an agent to receive notice of claims of infringement with the Copyright Office… Continue Reading

Websites Hit With Demand Letters on Accessibility Issues Despite Courts’ Rejection of Claim

Posted in Litigation

In recent weeks, numerous businesses have received letters asserting that their websites are not accessible to persons with disabilities, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and California’s Unruh Act. These letters threaten litigation and warn of large penalty claims under the Unruh Act.  What these letters do not report is that California courts… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Finds Laches Does Not Bar Copyright Infringement Claim: Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.

Posted in Copyright, IP, Litigation, Supreme Court

The doctrine of laches cannot be invoked as a bar to a plaintiff’s claim for damages brought within the Copyright Act’s three-year statute of limitations period, according to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. The Court, in a 6-3 decision, held that Congress prescribed a specified period in which a… Continue Reading

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

Posted in Copyright, FTC, Internet of Things, IP, Litigation, Privacy, SEC, Supreme Court, Terms of Use

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 analyze a groundbreaking FTC complaint alleging deceptive practices online that could turn website Terms of Use into federal law; we summarize a U.S. Supreme… Continue Reading

French Consumer Association Takes on Internet Giants

Posted in Litigation, Privacy

Earlier this year, the French consumer association UFC-Que Choisir initiated proceedings before the Paris District Court against Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc., accusing these companies of using confusing and unlawful online privacy policies and terms of use agreements in the French versions of their social media platforms; in particular, the consumer association argued… Continue Reading

European Court of Justice Strengthens Right to Be Forgotten

Posted in Litigation, Privacy

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) issued a quite surprising decision against Google which has significant implications for global companies. On May 13, 2014 the ECJ issued a ruling which did not follow the rationale or the conclusions of its Advocate General, but instead sided with the Spanish data protection authority (DPA) and found that:… Continue Reading

If You Host Videos on Your Website, Read This Blog Post Regarding the Video Privacy Protection Act

Posted in Litigation, Privacy

In a much anticipated decision in the class action In re Hulu Privacy Litigation, U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has shed new light on the meaning of “personally identifiable information” (PII) under the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA). This has important implications for companies… Continue Reading

Which Way is Aereo Pointing? The Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Public Performance Copyright Case

Posted in Copyright, IP, Litigation, Supreme Court

In a case that could have a broad impact on how companies deliver content to consumers, the Supreme Court heard oral argument on April 22 in American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc. (No. 13-461).  At issue is whether Aereo’s service engages in public performances under the Copyright Act in transmitting broadcast television content to its subscribers’… Continue Reading

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 FTC, Litigation, Privacy

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) announcement 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 of the FTC’s use… 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, IP, 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