March 2010 Quick Links

By Eric Goldman

Internet Exceptionalism

* Stern v. Sony Corp., CV 09-7710 PA (C.D. Cal. Feb. 8 2010) “to the extent Plaintiff is suing Sony as a manufacturer of video games, and the provider of online services, Sony is not a ‘place of public accommodation’ and is therefore not liable for violating Title III of the ADA” Nice complement to the Estavillo case. My prior post on Internet exceptionalism.

Online Competition

* Microsoft’s head algorithms guru says that Google’s search engine beat Microsoft because Microsoft ignored the long tail of search queries. If Google and Microsoft made different product design choices and the marketplace liked Google’s choices better, doesn’t this make it hard for Microsoft to complain about Google’s “anti-competitive” practices? I wonder if this talk was pre-cleared by Microsoft’s antitrust counsel.

* SJ Mercury News: Google’s most recent 10-K lists some new self-identified competitors, including Yelp, Kayak & WebMD. By identifying some vertical players as competitors, such as Kayak and WebMD, does Google lend credence to the arguments by TradeComet and myTriggers that Google does compete with vertical search engines?

* In re eBay Seller Antitrust Litigation, 2010 WL 760433 (N.D. Cal. March 4, 2010). eBay wins summary judgment in an antitrust challenge: “Despite the voluminous briefing permitted in connection with both of the instant motions-which includes hundreds of pages of supporting documents-Plaintiffs have not drawn the Court’s attention to any actual proof of antitrust injury caused by eBay’s alleged anticompetive acts-on an individual or a classwide level.”

Online Pornography

* U.S. v. Beckett, 2010 WL 776049 (11th Cir. March 9, 2010). A man posed as a 17 year old girl on MySpace and AOL, engaged boys in discussions, induced them to send nude photos, and then coerced them to have sex with him to prevent his dissemination of the photos.

* Miller v. Mitchell, No. 09-2144 (3rd Cir. March 17, 2010). This is the case where the government prosecutor threatened to bring felony charges against girls for “sexting.” The court upholds a preliminary injunction against requiring the girls to go through an education program in lieu of felony prosecution.

* U.S. v. Durdley, 2010 WL 916107 (N.D. Fla. March 11, 2010). No privacy expectations in a flash drive left in a public computer.

Online Security

* Cormac Herley of Microsoft Research, “So Long, And No Thanks for the Externalities: The Rational Rejection of Security Advice by Users.” In my observations, users are actually intensely rational when it comes to privacy and security issues, and privacy and security advocates who don’t fully account for this user behavior do so at their peril.

* Reuters takes a deep look at Innovation Marketing, a Russian scareware operation.

User-Generated Content

* Who does what on Wikipedia.

* Josh King explains why Avvo supports the proposed federal anti-SLAPP law.

* T.V. ex rel. B.V. v. Smith-Green Community School Corp., 2010 WL 935574 (N.D. Ind. March 11, 2010). Denying class formation for a lawsuit in response to a ridiculously harsh school suspension for a MySpace photo of ribald off-campus activity.

* Melton v. Boustred, 2010 WL 881919 (Cal. App. Ct. Mar 12, 2010). Boustred throws a ragin’ party and advertises it via a MySpace open invitation. The plaintiffs show up and were beaten and stabbed at the party by unknown assailants. The court concludes that Boustred isn’t liable for the physical injuries. Note to self: stay away from parties advertised via MySpace.

* Yelp Litigation Mania!

- Cats & Dogs Animal Hospital v. Yelp first amended complaint

- LaPausky v. Yelp complaint. A write-up.

- Levitt v. Yelp complaint.

- ClickZ: Ex-Yelper Helps Law Firms Go After Yelp

Anonymity

* Park West Galleries, Inc. v. Global Fine Art Registry, LLC, 2010 WL 742580 (E.D. Mich. Feb. 26, 2010). Using an online pseudonym can lengthen the defamation statute of limitations.

* White v. Baker, 2010 WL 1009758 (N.D. Ga. March 3, 2010). Mandatory reporting of Internet usernames by registered sex offenders violates the First Amendment.

Advertising and Marketing

* ClickZ: New Facebook Policies Clamp Down on ‘Loose’ Ad Copy.

* Coyote Pub., Inc. v. Miller, 2010 WL 816936 (9th Cir. March 11, 2010). Upholding the constitutionality of Nevada’s restrictions on advertising prostitution.

Trademark

* WSJ: It’s a crowded namespace for bands.

* 1-800Contacts, Inc. v. Memorial Eye, P.A., 2010 WL 988524 (D. Utah March 15, 2010). It was not objectively baseless for 1-800 Contacts to bring a trademark enforcement action over competitive keyword advertising.

* Rhea Drysdale tells how she busted the trademark application for “SEO.”

* The Utah governor has signed SB 26, which (among other things) creates a bastardized version of ACPA. My initial comments on the proposed bill.

Copyright

* James Grimmelmann on Reed Elsevier v. Muchnick.

* Ben Sheffner has some updates in the Scribd lawsuits. My initial post on Scott v. Scribd.

* Ars Technica on an experiment to block users who are using ad blocking software from accessing its site.

General

* Hudson v. University of Puerto Rico, 2010 WL 1131462 (D. Minn. March 23, 2010). Passive blog does not confer general jurisdiction.

* Doe 1 v. AOL LLC (N.D. Cal. Feb. 1, 2010). “Plaintiffs’ claims for violation of the ECPA (Count I), unjust enrichment (Count VI) and for public disclosure of private facts (Count VII) are subject to the forum selection clause because none are California consumer law claims.” Prior blog post.

* Commonwealth v. Interactive Media Ent’mt and Gaming Ass’n, Inc., No. 2009-SC-000043-MR (Ky. Mar. 18, 2010). Challenge to Kentucky’s seizure of 141 gambling-related domain names tossed on standing grounds. Prior blog post.