Creating Parody Social Media Accounts Doesn’t Violate Computer Fraud & Abuse Act – Matot v. CH

1 10 2013

[Post by Venkat Balasubramani]

Matot v. CH, et al, 13-cv-153-TC (D.Or.) (Report and Recommendation, Aug. 19, 2013) (Order Dismissing Lawsuit, Sept. 26, 2013)

This is a strange lawsuit brought by high school principal who alleged that defendants (students) created social media accounts using the principal’s name and likeness. Defendants allegedly posted materials, including some which were obscene, that caused his reputation to be diminished.  He brought suit against defendants and their parents, alleging claims under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and for defamation and negligent supervision.

On a motion to dismiss brought by one of the defendants, the court finds that plaintiff failed to adequately allege a cause of action under the CFAA. Reviewing the CFAA case law, the court says that plaintiff’s cause of action is premised on defendants’ use of protected computers beyond the scope of authorization (i.e., use in a way that “exceeded authorized access”). Finding that Nosal, Brekka, and US v. Drew all frowned upon this as a legal theory (particularly when restrictions are contained in terms of use agreements), the court rejects the claim. In front of the magistrate judge, plaintiff requested leave to add a RICO claim, but the judge rejects this:


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