What Does the “Water” Emoji Mean? Perhaps Not What You Think–US v Swanagan
Technology & Marketing Law
by Eric Goldman
3d ago
[Just a reminder that there are no “off-limits” topics in Internet Law. So yes, this post is going to go there.] Law enforcement took down a methamphetamine ring in Kentucky. Based in part on Facebook messages between two defendants that used the “water” emoji, law enforcement got wiretap court orders. This ruling involves a motion to suppress evidence from one of the wiretaps because “Officer Budde’s conclusory interpretation of a ‘water emoji’ is false and misleading because the ‘water emoji’ is synonymous with sexual activity not methamphetamine.” In the wiretap affidavit, the officer wrote ..read more
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If You Ask Your Friend to Take Your Photo Using Your Camera, Who Owns the Copyright?–Shah v. NYP
Technology & Marketing Law
by Eric Goldman
5d ago
Vivek Shah attended several Hollywood parties. While there, he preset the settings on his phone camera (including shutter speed, white balance, ISO, metering type, and exposure value) and asked friends or bystanders to use his phone to take photos of him with celebrities. He posted the photos to Facebook and his IMDB page (this one?). In 2012, the FBI arrested Shah for extortion, which sparked news coverage. The media entities republished 20 photos he uploaded to Facebook and IMDB and misattributed the photo credits. After he was released from jail, he got copyright registrations for the photo ..read more
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2022 Internet Law Year-in-Review
Technology & Marketing Law
by Eric Goldman
6d ago
Three dynamics combined to make 2022 a brutal year for Internet Law. First, the techlash is taking its toll. There is widespread belief that the major incumbents are too big, too rich, and too capricious to avoid pervasive government control. This reflects years of tech-trashing by the media and politicians–and an imbalanced discourse because there’s surprisingly little counternarrative to the techlash narrative (I hope to address this with my forthcoming book project). Second, the Internet has become a partisan football. Both parties see political gold in attacking the Internet. In 2022, this ..read more
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Section 230 Applies to NY Publicity Rights Claim–Ratermann v. Pierre Fabre
Technology & Marketing Law
by Eric Goldman
1w ago
Patty Ratermann is a model. She signed a license with QuickFrame to use her likeness only on Instagram. Somehow (the court skips over exactly how), Pierre Fabre used her likeness to promote its Avène skincare products on its website, on Amazon, Walmart, and Ulta’s websites, and in Walgreen stores. Ratermann sued all of these entities. This post focuses only on the New York publicity rights claims (NY Civil Rights Law 50 & 51) against Amazon Walmart, and Ulta. The three e-commerce players defended on Section 230 grounds. The court says “the three elements of Section 230 are satisfied”: ICS ..read more
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Fourth Circuit’s 230 Meltdown Gives Plaintiffs False Hope–Divino v. Google
Technology & Marketing Law
by Eric Goldman
1w ago
Last year, in Henderson v. Source for Public Data, the Fourth Circuit issued a MAGAlicious Section 230 opinion that seemingly trashed 25 years of Fourth Circuit precedent. It was immediately obvious that plaintiffs would widely cite the ruling. However, so far there hasn’t been much uptake by other courts. In this case, the plaintiffs allege that YouTube engages in discriminatory content moderation, an argument has gone nowhere in court. Having lost on multiple grounds, including Section 230, the plaintiffs asked for reconsideration in light of the Henderson case. The court rejects the request ..read more
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“Stop the Steal” Rally Attendee’s Defamation Claim Fails–Chad Burmeister v. Saldich
Technology & Marketing Law
by Eric Goldman
1w ago
Chad Burmeister (no Chad jokes, please…no Karen jokes, either) attended the DC “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6, 2021. One of his LinkedIn contacts, noisily dropped him as a contact, saying: Normally I’d stay away from political commentary on LinkedIn, but today I’d like to highlight the actions of a former colleague, Chad Burmeister … from Littleton, CO who participated in the seditious takeover of the capitol on Wednesday. I have severed my connection with him here, and encourage all who are connected with him to do the same. It’s disgraceful. If you want to watch the video, it’s part of ..read more
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Section 230 Protects Services That Permit Anonymous Third-Party Posts–Bride v. Snap
Technology & Marketing Law
by Eric Goldman
1w ago
This case involves two “anonymous messaging” apps, Yolo and LMK. Both allegedly target teens audiences. “Plaintiffs allege they received harassing messages in response to their benign posts on Defendants’ applications and did not receive comparable messages on other platforms in which user identities were revealed.” Both apps allegedly were not responsive enough to complaints or unmasking requests, including not following their own purported policies. The plaintiffs sued the apps for “(1) strict product liability based on a design defect; (2) strict product liability based on a failure to warn ..read more
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My Amicus Brief in Gonzalez v. Google
Technology & Marketing Law
by Eric Goldman
1w ago
Internet Law is in play at the U.S. Supreme Court, as they will likely hear at least four cases this term. (A possible fifth is the 303 Creative case). The four cases: Gonzalez v. Google, over whether Section 230 applies to algorithmic recommendations Taamneh v. Twitter, over whether social media services can violate the Anti-Terrorism Act NetChoice v. Florida Attorney General and NetChoice v. Paxton, over the Florida and Texas social media censorship laws. Cert has not yet been granted but it’s likely. Any one of these four cases could easily go sideways and disrupt the Internet as we know ..read more
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Man Convicted for Asking for CSAM on Mom Blogs–US v. Moran
Technology & Marketing Law
by Eric Goldman
2w ago
Moran made several comments on generally-wholesome “mom blogs” asking moms to have their daughters create CSAM to his specifications. Among other crimes, he was prosecuted for attempted CSAM production. His defense was basically that it was so stupid to ask for CSAM on mom blogs that it wasn’t really a criminal “attempt.” I don’t recall seeing this precise argument before, but you already know how well the appellate court responded to it. Specifically, Moran argued that he lacked the requisite intent because “his efforts to procure child pornography via comments on mom-blogs were almost surely ..read more
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What Consequences for High School Freshmen’s Racist Online Petition?–Plaintiff A v. Park Hill School District
Technology & Marketing Law
by Eric Goldman
2w ago
Yet another case involving high school students being disciplined for doing stupid things online. Ugh. This case involves high school freshmen at a Missouri public school. In September 2021, while riding on a school bus to a football game, Plaintiff A created a Change.org petition entitled “Start slavery again” targeting a peer, TRL. Plaintiff A added a photo of TRL to the petition plus other racist remarks. Plaintiff A claims that he did all this with TRL’s consent and encouragement, but TRL later disputed that characterization. Plaintiff A circulated the petition to the school football team ..read more
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