Q1 2009 Quick Links, Part 4

By Eric Goldman

Security

* Massachusetts Data Security regulations were amended.

* In Facebook v. Power.com, Facebook brought another lawsuit to block extraction of user data from the site (similar to the Facebook v. ConnectU lawsuit). Venkat, Masnick, News.com, NYT, Justia. In this case, I wonder if Facebook has adequately distinguished between Power.com’s behavior and the operation of its own “Find a Friend” service that taps into third party email servers to extract email addresses. Power.com’s response.

* Andritz, Inc. v. Southern Maintenance Contractor, LLC, 2009 WL 48187 (M.D. Ga. Jan. 7, 2009). IP infringement isn’t a cognizable harm under the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act.

Adware/Spyware

* Who says Valentine’s Day is just a Hallmark holiday? Sales of spyware and other tools to track cheating SOs also increase around Valentine’s Day.

* Susan Brenner on the Cybercrimes Treaty and the US’s decision not to criminalize possession of malware as required by the treaty.

Venture Capital

* BusinessWeek: Silicon Valley innovation is being stifled by VCs who only want to make small bets, not big bets. But VC investing is faddish, so the wind might change tomorrow.

* $600M of VC investments in virtual worlds.

Contracts

* Burcham v. Expedia, Inc., 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17104 (E.D. Mo. Mar. 6, 2009). Buyer was bound to user agreement even though he argued (without any evidence) that someone else established the account he used. This dovetails nicely with the broad reading of who is bound by an online user agreement; see my discussion in the Lori Drew case. Jeff Neuburger’s writeup. Aside: I wonder if Expedia will be insulated by 47 USC 230 for the allegedly wrong description of amenities if they got the description of the hotel from third parties. For an analogous result involving the binding of users who didn’t agree to the initial contract, see CoStar Realty Information, Inc. v. Field, 2009 WL 841132 (D. Md. March 31, 2009).

* Fractional Villas Inc. v. Tahoe Clubhouse, No. 08cv1396 (S.D. Cal. Feb. 25, 2009). Citing the RMG case, the court says that merely visiting a site may be sufficient to bind visitors to a browsewrap. However, in this case, there was insufficient evidence that the defendant had ever visited the site.

* Cherny v. Emigrant Bank, 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 2486 (March 12, 2009). Latest case that breach of privacy policy isn’t actionable unless there are actual damages. Venkat’s writeup.

* A stat I fully believe: “studies have shown that more than half of all companies cannot even locate signed copies of 10% or more of their contracts.” The Zen Master asks: if both parties think they have entered a contract but neither can find a copy, do they have a contract? (this has really happened to me before).

Taxes

* Amazon v. New York and Overstock v. New York (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Jan. 12, 2009). Kudos to New York for finally figuring out a way to break the Internet and defeat the Internet Tax Freedom Act by treating Amazon Associates as traveling salespeople for sales tax collection purposes. I imagine every state in the country will jump on this bandwagon, at which point some e-tailers will kill their affiliate program and others will end up imposing sales tax collection nationwide.

* Pitt County v. Hotels.com, L.P. (4th Cir. Jan. 14, 2009), Online travel aggregators aren’t “retailers” (as referenced in the statute) for purposes of collecting local hotel occupancy taxes.

General

* Some interesting cyberspace exceptionalism developments involving cases where paper presentation may be different from electronic presentation of the exact same content. In Smith v. Under Armour, Inc., 2008 WL 5486764, web payment confirmations displayed on-screen are not “printed” within the meaning of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. Accord Smith v. Zazzle.com, Inc., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101050. See generally this Proskauer recap. In Saulic v. Symantec Corp., a California law prohibiting data collection with credit card sales was held inapplicable online.

* Sudduth v. Donnelly, 2009 WL 918090 (N.D. Ill. April 1, 2009). Plaintiff got stiffed on his eBay transaction and sued eBay for 1983 equal protection and conspiracy claims as well as a Title VI civil rights claim. Because eBay isn’t a state actor, however, the court dismissed eBay.

* My colleague Steve Diamond is blogging every detail of the battle for SAG’s soul over at his new blog, King Harvest. For example, he summarizes the travails of the Screen Actor’s Guild.

* Oddee: 10 Geekiest T-Shirts. I own a t-shirt that says “I’m Blogging This” (a gift from a former student) and a mug that says “Vegetarian Blogger” (gift from a colleague).

* Oddee: 15 Most Unfortunate Town Names. I think Licking County should have been a contender.

* Is there any better sign of Cyberlaw’s maturity than the publication of Internet Law in a Nutshell? [Amazon Affiliates link]

* Oddee: 12 Most Ridiculous Lawsuits. I welcome your nominations for the most ridiculous Internet lawsuits of all time. I hope to write that up some day.

* Happy birthday, Gmail! Best email software I’ve ever used. The battles over Gmail privacy seem so…2004!

Free Stuff

* The Ninth Circuit recently updated its website…with RSS feeds!

* Nolo Press’ “NDAs for Free.” Potentially useful site.

* I have one extra copy of my Fall 2008 Cyberspace Law course reader. First person to send an email with their mailing address gets it. [CLAIMED]

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