September 2007 Quick Links Part II

By Eric Goldman

Contracts

* Manasher v. NECC Telecom, No. 06-cv-10749 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 18, 2007). NECC included the following language on its invoices: “NECC’s Agreement ‘Disclosure and Liabilities’ can be found online at www.necc.us or you could request a copy by calling us at (800) 766 2642.” Not surprisingly, an arbitration clause in the referenced document wasn’t incorporated into the contract because (among other deficiencies) there was no “call to action” that communicated that the referenced document was part of the agreement. HT: Tom O’Toole.

* Hofer v. The Gap Inc., No. 05-40170 (D. Mass. Sept. 28, 2007). 2 friends decide to vacation together in Jamaica. Friend 1 books the travel arrangements for both of them through Expedia. Friend 2 suffers a personal injury at the resort and wants to hold Expedia liable. Expedia invokes the liability protections in its user agreement, but Friend 2 never consented to or even saw that user agreement. No problem, says the court–Friend 1 was Friend 2′s agent and therefore automatically bound Friend 2 to Expedia’s agreement. For an analogous case involving software installed on a home computer, see here. HT: Tom O’Toole.

Web 2.0

* Video Professor, Inc. v. Doe (D. Colo.). Video Professor believes a bunch of individuals are committing false advertising, disparagement and other torts by bashing Video Professor’s products. Video Professor knows it can’t sue the intermediaries per 47 USC 230, so instead it’s seeking subpoenas to unmask the gripers. This lawsuit seems misarchitected from a legal standpoint (at least, the Lanham Act portions), but it’s also a really bad idea from a business standpoint–the chance of this lawsuit rehabilitating their online reputation is near-zero, and the chance of raising the profile of the gripers’ comments in the search engines is near-one. Fortunately, Paul Levy is fighting back. HT: Consumer Law & Policy Blog.

* Michael Erdman reports that the Chicago Lawyers Committee v. Craigslist appeal is moving again. For a while, the case was deliberately sitting idle at the Seventh Circuit, presumably to facilitate settlement, but the Seventh Circuit has now issued a briefing schedule.

* Gary Price reports on the move in Wikipedia Germany to have all page edits reviewed by “trusted editors.” More on this from the New Scientist. Yet more evidence that Wikipedia is looking increasingly like other editorially controlled content databases.

* Want to see a user community in the midst of turmoil? Check out the troubles at RateItAll. The consequence: 4 power users are gone, taking 20,000 items of content with them.

* News.com: 9 Fun Ways Web 2.0 Startups Can Commit Legal Suicide

Search Engines

* Jayne v. Google Internet Search Engine Founders, 2007 WL 2852383 (M.D. Pa. Sept. 27, 2007). This was a ridiculous pro se lawsuit that the court easily dismisses on its face. The interesting aspect is that the court says that Google isn’t a state actor. This isn’t the first court to say so, but it reinforces that Google and other search engines aren’t subject to Constitutional restrictions.

* Google filed a motion to dismiss the American Airlines lawsuit. HT Gary Price.

* MediaPost: Personalized search results expand the number of search results that users look at and strongly improve clickthrough rate.

Content Regulation

* I missed this when it was first filed: Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association v. Gonzales (D.N.J. complaint filed June 5, 2007), a First Amendment challenge to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.

* American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Strickland, 2007 WL 2783678 (S.D. Ohio Sept. 24, 2007). Another state level anti-Internet porn law was struck down (this time in Ohio), but only on First Amendment grounds. Influenced by the upholding of state anti-spam laws, the court rejects a challenge to the law on dormant commerce clause grounds. This is a rare opinion saying that a baby CDA state law didn’t violate the DCC.

For Fun

* Happy birthday, smiley!