Nov.-Dec. 2010 Quick Links, Part 4

By Eric Goldman

Blogs and Boards

* Reuters on the wild-and-wooly world of investor message boards.

* KingCast.net v. Friends of Kelly Ayotte, 2010 WL 4683829 (D.N.H. Nov. 2, 2010). Blogger’s unsuccessful lawsuit to gain mandatory access to a candidate’s campaign events as a journalist.

* Mealer v. GMAC Mortg. LLC, 2010 WL 4586183 (D. Ariz. Nov. 2, 2010). A lawsuit against General Motors for an employee’s allegedly disparaging blog post is dismissed because the new GM isn’t liable for the old GM’s activities.

* ABA Journal: some attorneys are using independent contractors to “ghost write” blog posts for them. This seems like a practice filled with legal landmines.

Contracts

* Florencia Marotta-Wurgler, Does Disclosure Matter? The abstract:

Disclosure has long been the preferred regulatory approach to curtail one-sided standard form contract terms….The appeal of disclosure is that it is relatively low cost, improves consumer decision-making and preserves consumer choice. For disclosure to be effective, however, it must increase readership and understanding of contracts to a meaningful rate, and, conditional on readership, contract content must be relevant to purchase decisions. This paper tests both these necessary conditions. We follow the clickstream of 47,399 households to 81 Internet software retailers to measure contract readership as a function of disclosure. We find that making contracts more prominently available does not increase readership in any significant way. In addition, the purchasing behavior of those few consumers who read contracts is unaffected by the one-sidedness of their terms. The results suggest that mandating disclosure online should not on its own be expected to have large effects on contract content.

* S. 3386, Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act, signed into law Dec. 29, 2010. The bill prevents online merchants from passing shoppers’ credit card numbers to other merchants without requisite consent. It also restricts negative option sales without adequate disclosure, consent and ability to terminate.

Jurisdiction

* Penachio v. Benedict, 2010 WL 4505996 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 9, 2010). “Defendants are not subject to personal jurisdiction in this Court. The preparation and dissemination of the defamatory material occurred outside of New York. Although the [YouTube] videos bear a relationship to the proceedings in New York and Defendants’ alleged commercial interest in New York, Defendants’ interaction with New York during the publication of the videos is too marginal to rise to the level of purposeful availment.”

* Miller v. Kelly, 2010 WL 4684029 (D. Colo. Nov. 12, 2010). “Defendant’s LiveJournal blog appears to the Court to have been merely a passive website that allowed internet users to access and view information posted by Defendant. Accordingly, the Court finds that Defendant’s authorship of a LiveJournal blog is an insufficient basis for the exercise of general personal jurisdiction over her….the Defendant’s authorship of an entry on the blog was not an act purposefully directed at Colorado. Although the blog entry was allegedly accessed by Plaintiff in Colorado, no allegation or evidence has been presented to indicate that Defendant expressly aimed the entry at Colorado.”

* State v. Pierce, 2010 WL 4941473 (Minn. App. Ct. Dec. 7, 2010). A man was ordered not to contact his ex-girlfriend. He violated the order by sending her a MySpace message, but prosecutors could not establish that he sent or she received the message in their county, so the conviction was reversed.

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