Internet Access Providers Can Be Contributorily Liable for Subscribers’ Infringements–Sony Music v. Cox
Technology & Marketing Law
by Eric Goldman
1d ago
As I’ve previously written, for many years after the DMCA passed, everyone assumed that 17 USC 512(a) completely shielded Internet access providers from liability for subscribers’ copyright infringements. Then, about a dozen years ago, the rightsowners coerced Internet access providers to adopt the “Copyright Alert System,” which treated rightsowners as trusted flaggers (whether or not they deserved that status) and required Internet access providers to deploy a “six strike” system–with, presumably, the final consequence being termination of Internet access. If 512(a) provided full immunity, t ..read more
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Judge Reconsiders SAD Scheme Ruling Against Online Marketplaces–Squishmallows v. Alibaba
Technology & Marketing Law
by Eric Goldman
6d ago
You may have heard about Squishmallow’s recent lawsuit against Build-a-Bear over plushy knockoffs. While that’s interesting, I’m focused on Squishmallow’s abuse of the SAD Scheme. I previously blogged about one such case, where Squishmallow sued 90 e-commerce merchants in a sealed complaint and got a TRO. Typical SAD Scheme stuff. However, Squishmallow also sued Alibaba and AliExpress. Normally SAD Scheme plaintiffs don’t want to tangle with the online marketplaces because the marketplaces will fight back, jacking up the costs, and may be less willing to voluntarily accede to rightsowners’ req ..read more
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Another Court Finds an “Enforceable Browsewrap.” MAKE IT STOP–Hawkins v. CMG
Technology & Marketing Law
by Eric Goldman
6d ago
This is a Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) case against a media website, so you have good reason to wonder about the legitimacy and sincerity of the case. The named plaintiff created a WSBTV account by opting to log in using Facebook. That choice led the plaintiff to this screen: If plaintiff had clicked on the “Terms” link at the bottom right, it would have led to CMG’s “Visitor Agreement” that included an arbitration clause. CMG is invoking arbitration based on that clause. The court says this implementation isn’t a sign-in-wrap because the CMG terms lacked a call-to-action: “the login t ..read more
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Ninth Circuit Enforces a “Browsewrap” (That Was Actually a Clickthrough)–Patrick v. Running Warehouse
Technology & Marketing Law
by Eric Goldman
1w ago
This is a data breach case. Several e-commerce sites were hit, first by hackers and then by plaintiffs’ lawyers. The sites invoked their TOSes to send the data breach cases to arbitration. The Ninth Circuit agrees. The Ninth Circuit opinion doesn’t show the defendants’ screenshots, but the lower court opinion did: As you can see, these are old-school clickthrough agreements. The screens all use an if-then statement predicated on a user’s click (by submitting your order, you agree to the TOS) and place the call-to-action near the “order” button, albeit in different places (above, below, to the ..read more
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Boat Rental Marketplace Defeats Lawsuit Over Offline Boating Accident–In re Chaves
Technology & Marketing Law
by Eric Goldman
1w ago
A rare case analyzing Section 230’s intersection with admiralty law. The case involves GetMyBoat, an online marketplace for boat rentals. Listings are free, but GetMyBoat takes a cut of any booked transactions. A young woman, Lindsey Faith Partridge, used GMB to rent a boat from Chaves. A boating accident led to Lindsey’s tragic death. Chaves sought a declaration of non-liability (an “exoneration”), which prompted Lindsey’s estate to sue GMB as well. GMB defeats the estate’s claim on Section 230 and other grounds. ICS Provider. “Here is it undisputed that GMB is ‘an online venue on which Vess ..read more
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Fourth Circuit Issues a Bummer Fair Use Ruling–Philpot v. IJR
Technology & Marketing Law
by Eric Goldman
1w ago
Larry Philpot is a repeat copyright plaintiff. We’ve blogged some of his cases before (1, 2), including the lower court ruling in this case. In 2016, the defendant IJR published an article/listicle titled “15 Signs Your Daddy Was a Conservative.” One sign is listening to Ted Nugent. (I trust you know who Ted Nugent is, even if the Fourth Circuit panel did not). IJR illustrated the point with Philpot’s photo of Ted Nugent with some slight cropping at the top and bottom: “Photo Credit: Larry Philpot of www.soundstagephotography.com.” In 2013, Philpot uploaded the photo to Wikimedia Commons, whi ..read more
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YouTube Still Isn’t a State Actor–Albertson v. Google
Technology & Marketing Law
by Eric Goldman
1w ago
This year, the Supreme Court is expected to issue an opinion on jawboning and its implications for when Internet services may become state actors because of such government pressure. Until then, plaintiffs will keep losing lawsuits that claim Internet services are state actors. Timothy-Allen Albertson allegedly self-describes as a “curmudgeon” and “counter-troll.” According to that article, “Albertson’s assets…include $100 worth of books and $700 worth of guns.” #Priorities. Albertson had a YouTube channel. “Albertson has serious legal and political issues with the LGBTQIA+ Identity Group.” Sa ..read more
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Online Marketplace Defeats Lawsuit Over Murder–Roland v. Letgo
Technology & Marketing Law
by Eric Goldman
2w ago
I previously summarized this case: This is a tragic case involving the marketplace app Letgo. Using an alias, Brown listed a stolen car for sale on the app. The Rolands agreed to meet Brown in person to buy the car. At the meeting, Brown tried to rob them at gunpoint. When the husband fought back, Brown shot them both dead. This lawsuit seeks to hold Letgo liable for the murders. On appeal, the Tenth Circuit affirms the dismissal–without relying on Section 230. Negligence. The plaintiffs claim “Letgo made three representations that actively increased the risk of harm to users like the Roland ..read more
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Think You Understand Online Trespass to Chattels Law? Think Again–In re Meta Healthcare Pixels
Technology & Marketing Law
by Eric Goldman
3w ago
This is one of the many pending “Pixel” cases. If you don’t recall, a “pixel” is a 1×1-pixel image file that is imperceptible to web visitors. A website adds code to its web page that summons the pixel from a third-party source. By delivering the pixel and related items like cookies, the third party can independently and automatically gather information about the web visitor. This information can be used for analytics purposes or to track users, which can then be fed into remarketing or other targeting. Using a pixel to track users is an Old School practice. In my Internet Law course, I still ..read more
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Section 230 Protects Zillow for Publishing Property Information–Choudhuri v. Specialized Loan
Technology & Marketing Law
by Eric Goldman
3w ago
This lawsuit relates to a property foreclosure contested by the then-property owner, Choudhuri, who sued pro se. “Choudhuri appears to allege that Zillow ‘illegally’ published information regarding the property at issue on its website, including listing it ‘for auction.'” This leads to an easy Section 230 dismissal. ICS Provider. I cleaned up this quote–most of this is language quoted from the complaint: “Zillow operates an online database of real estate properties. Its website states that it is reimagining the traditional rules of real estate to make it easier than ever to move from one home ..read more
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