‘Worst of Both Worlds’ FOSTA Signed Into Law, Completing Section 230’s Evisceration

15 04 2018

Technology & Marketing  Law Blog

Eric Goldman

April 11, 2018

This morning, President Trump signed H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (FOSTA), into law. The bill signing was anticipated, but that doesn’t make the outcome any less terrible. Today, Washington DC regulators made a major error, one that we’ll likely regret for decades.

Eventually, I plan to write an explainer about the law. In this post, I’ll highlight three developments from the past 2+ weeks since the Senate approved the bill, plus some open questions.

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Intellectual Property in the World of eSports

4 04 2018

IP Watchdog

Roman Brtka
April 2, 2018

eSports is an exciting new area — not only in the sporting industry but in legal terms. There are various key players such as eGamers, game publishers, and organizers of eSports events, who are facing the challenge of sufficiently protecting their rights. Organizers need to ensure that they obtain all necessary usage rights from the game publishers and the participating eGamers, and these parties need to be aware of their possible ancillary copyrights and should take appropriate precautionary measures to protect them.

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Congress OKs sex trafficking bill that critics say will “censor the Internet”

22 03 2018

Ars Technica

– 3/21/2018, 5:54 PM

The US Senate today passed a bill that weakens legal protections given to websites that host third-party content, saying the measure will help stop promotion of prostitution and sex trafficking on the Internet. But the legislation won’t actually help victims of sex trafficking, and will erode online free speech, critics say.

The Senate passed the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) in a 97-2 vote. Only Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) voted against the bill, which is also known as the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA). It already passed the House of Representatives, and is expected to be signed by President Donald Trump.

The bill changes Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which provides website operators with broad immunity for hosting third-party content. The bill declares that Section 230 “was never intended to provide legal protection to websites that unlawfully promote and facilitate prostitution and websites that facilitate traffickers in advertising the sale of unlawful sex acts with sex trafficking victims.”

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The content in this post was found at https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/03/congress-oks-sex-trafficking-bill-that-critics-say-will-censor-the-internet/

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The Coming Border Wars: U.S. Court Decision Refusing to Enforce Canadian Court Order Highlights the Growing Balkanization of the Internet

22 03 2018

Social Aware blog: law and business of social media

on March 20, 2018

Does a search engine operator have to delist websites hosting, without authorization, your trade secret materials or other intellectual property? The answer may depend on where you sue—just ask Google. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California recently handed the company a victory over plaintiff Equustek Solutions Inc. in what has turned into an international battle where physical borders can have very real consequences on the Internet.

The dispute began when a rival company, Datalink, allegedly misappropriated Equustek’s trade secrets in developing competing products. Equustek also alleged that Datalink misled customers who thought they were buying Equustek products. In 2012, Equustek obtained numerous court orders in Canada against Datalink. Datalink refused to comply, and Canadian court issued an arrest warrant for the primary defendant, who has yet to be apprehended.

In September 2012, Equustek asked Google to delist search results for Datalink; Google declined this request. Equustek then sought a court order against Google in Canada and prevailed, resulting in Google removing 300 Datalink websites from search results generated by the Canadian version of its site, located at www.google.ca. Google, however, did not take similar steps with respect to U.S. and other non-Canadian versions of its site, so the Datalink websites continued to appear in search results conducted by users outside of Canada.

Equustek returned to the Canadian court, this time to seek an order compelling Google to remove the Datalink-related search results globally so that Datalink results would not appear for any Google users, regardless of their location. Equustek once again prevailed, and Google appealed to the Court of Appeal for British Columbia. That court, and later the Supreme Court of Canada, affirmed the trial court’s order.

Google then brought the battle to the United States; in July 2017, it commenced an action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California seeking a declaratory judgment that the Canadian court order cannot be enforced in the United States and an injunction against the enforcement of such order. (Equustek did not submit an opposition brief.)

In support of its preliminary injunction motion, Google’s primary arguments were that the Canadian order (1) ignores the Communication Decency Act’s immunity for interactive service providers (2) directly conflicts with the First Amendment and (3) violates principles of international comity.

 

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The content in this post was found at https://www.sociallyawareblog.com/2018/03/20/the-coming-border-wars-u-s-court-decision-refusing-to-enforce-canadian-court-order-highlights-the-growing-balkanization-of-the-internet/

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Lawsuit Against Online Dating App Grindr Dismissed Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act

19 03 2018

Socially Aware

on March 15, 2018

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act continues to act as one of the strongest legal protections that social media companies have to avoid being saddled with crippling damage awards based on the misdeeds of their users.

The strong protections afforded by Section 230(c) were recently reaffirmed by Judge Caproni of the Southern District of New York, in Herrick v. Grindr. The case involved a dispute between the social networking platform Grindr and an individual who was maliciously targeted through the platform by his former lover. For the unfamiliar, Grindr is mobile app directed to gay and bisexual men that, using geolocation technology, helps them to connect with other users who are located nearby.

Plaintiff Herrick alleged that his ex-boyfriend set up several fake profiles on Grindr that claimed to be him. Over a thousand users responded to the impersonating profiles. Herrick’s ex‑boyfriend, pretending to be Herrick, would then direct the men to Herrick’s’ work-place and home. The ex-boyfriend, still posing as Herrick, would also tell these would-be suitors that Herrick had certain rape fantasies, that he would initially resist their overtures, and that they should attempt to overcome Herrick’s initial refusals. The impersonating profiles were reported to Grindr (the app’s operator), but Herrick claimed that Grindr did not respond, other than to send an automated message.

Herrick then sued Grindr, claiming that the company was liable to him because of the defective design of the app and the failure to police such conduct on the app. Specifically, Herrick alleged that the Grindr app lacked safety features that would prevent bad actors such as his former boyfriend from using the app to impersonate others. Herrick also claimed that Grindr had a duty to warn him and other users that it could not protect them from harassment stemming from impersonators.

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The content in this post was found at https://www.sociallyawareblog.com/2018/03/15/lawsuit-against-online-dating-app-grindr-dismissed-under-section-230-of-the-communications-decency-act/

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Top Internet Law Developments of 2017 (Very Late)

14 03 2018

Eric Goldman
Technology and Marketing Law Blog

March 13, 2018

[It’s a sign of my busy 2018 that I’m only now posting my annual Internet Law year-in-review recap. Better late than never?]

Can the Print-on-Demand Industry Survive?

Trump and Twitter.

Uber.

Europe’s GDPR.

Net Neutrality.

Section 230 and Sex Trafficking.

SESTA/FOSTA

“Conservatives” Bring Censorious Civil Rights Lawsuits Against Internet Giants (and “Liberal” Google/Facebook/Twitter Haters Cheer Them On).

Internet Companies Are Viewed as the Problem, Not the Solution (Especially for Political Ads).

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The content in this post was found at https://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2018/03/top-internet-law-developments-of-2017-very-late.htm Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post. and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com.

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California Court Declines to Dismiss Illinois Facial Recognition/Biometric Privacy Suit against Facebook on Standing Grounds

7 03 2018

Proskaueh New Media and Technology Blog

Jeffrey Neuburger on March 2, 2018

This past week, a California district court again declined Facebook’s motion to dismiss an ongoing litigation involving claims under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, 740 Ill. Comp Stat. 14/1 (“BIPA”), surrounding Tag Suggestions, its facial recognition-based system of photo tagging.  In 2016, the court declined to dismiss the action based upon, among other things, Facebook’s contention that BIPA categorically excludes digital photographs from its scope.  This time around, the court declined to dismiss the plaintiffs’ complaint for lack of standing under the Supreme Court’s 2016 Spokeo decision on the ground that plaintiffs have failed to allege a concrete injury in fact.  (Patel v. Facebook, Inc., No. 15-03747 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 26, 2018) (cases consolidated at In re Facebook Biometric Information Privacy Litig., No. 15-03747 (N.D. Cal.)).  As a result, Facebook will be forced to continue to litigate this action.

This dispute is being closely watched as there are a number of similar pending BIPA suits relating to biometrics and facial recognition  and other defendants are looking at which of Facebook’s defenses might hold sway with a court. 

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The content in this post was found at https://www.adlawbyrequest.com/2018/03/articles/in-the-courts/district-judge-in-the-sdny-embedding-links-to-third-party-web-content-is-copyright-infringement
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Angry Pick-Up Artist Says He Won’t Issue Bogus YouTube Claim On Critic’s Video; Issues Bogus Claim On Critic’s Video

7 03 2018

Techdirt

March 3, 2018

Another case of YouTube’s copyright notification system being abused has filtered down through social media. A YouTuber whose channel specializes in game reviews was targeted by the developer of the game after some back-and-forth on the internet over his negative review.

Chris Hodgkinson reviewed a game called Super Seducer, which supposedly teaches dudes how to pick up women through the magical art of full-motion video. Call it “edutainment.” (If you must…) The developer, Richard La Ruina, didn’t care for his game being featured on a video series entitled “This is the Worst Game Ever.” Nor did he care for Hodgkinson’s suggestion the game offered nothing to men in the way of usable pick-up artistry.

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Amicus brief filed in Lohan Grand Theft Auto V suit and some NY observations

27 02 2018

Right of publicity.com

January 25, 2018.

An appeal brought by Lindsay Lohan against Take-Two Entertainment and Rockstar Games in relation to the Lacey Jonas character in Grand Theft Auto V has inspired an amicus brief, filed last month, in support of the video game companies.   I am not commenting on the merits of Lohan’s claim here.  I also am not responding to the brief itself, but am just notating a few observations that relate to the New York discussion overall.

The Lohan case is pending in New York.  The amicus brief references New York’s right of privacy statute (New York sections 50 & 51) and indicates that New York’s statute helped the court “dodge a bullet” through its narrow right of privacy provisions.

New York’s legislation, as it shapes New York’s position on the right of publicity and its narrow provisions concerning the right of privacy, is hardly a model for right or privacy or right of publicity legislation (not that anyone has called it a model).  New York’s Sections 50 and 51 puts New York at odds with almost every state in the U.S.  It allows no room for the critical policy reasons behind right of publicity recognition, as distinct from privacy rights.  New York’s right of publicity deficiencies, stemming from the 115 year old legislation (though it has been amended a few times) are, in fact, the source of a lot of problems New York is experiencing.

Addressing New York’s 1903 statute, passed in the aftermath of Roberson v. Rochester Folding Box Co., 171 N.Y. 538 (1902), Professor J. Thomas McCarthy in The Rights of Privacy and Publicity, s.6:74 says:

“New York …is part of a tiny and dwindling minority of courts which still rejects any common law rights of privacy.

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Federal Court Shuts Down IMDb-Targeting ‘Anti-Ageism’ Law Permanently

27 02 2018

Techdirt

retrieved Feb. 23, 2018

In the annals of stupid legislation, California’s attempt to fight ageism at Hollywood studios by targeting third-party websites and using the First Amendment as a doormat will secure a prominent place in infamy. Rising from the ashes of a failed lawsuit brought by an actress who claimed IMDb cost her untold amounts of wealth by publishing her age, the law basically said IMDb couldn’t publish facts on its website. Those pushing the legislation included the Screen Actors Guild, which apparently doesn’t have the spine to stand up to studios and target them for discriminating against actors and actresses.

Last year, IMDb secured a temporary injunction against the state of California, forbidding it from enforcing the law while the courts sorted out its constitutionality. That day has arrived. A federal court has declared the law unconstitutional and permanently blocked California from going after IMDb because Hollywood producers participate in discriminatory hiring. (h/t Jacob Gershman)

The decision [PDF] is short. It takes only six pages for the district court to destroy the state’s arguments. First, it tells the state it’s not going to apply a lower First Amendment standard of scrutiny to its awful law.

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