Quick Links May 2006

By Eric Goldman

My blogging queue has gotten too thick. Here’s some items that caught my attention that I’ve been meaning to blog and simply haven’t gotten to.

* I previously blogged about Chris Wilson, the website operator who allowed users to post pornography and was then prosecuted for distributing pornography under state law. I argued then that such prosecutions were immunized by 230. According to AP, in January, Chris pleaded no contest to 5 counts of possession of obscene material (this news report sounds garbled; the crime of possessing obscene material, without more, should protected by Stanley v. Georgia). For this, in April, he was sentenced to 5 years probation.

* Deborah Wilcox has written an article about situations when trademark owners should NOT send a trademark cease-and-desist letter. Given how many trademark plaintiffs’ lawyers mistakenly shoot first and ask questions later, this article raises an important but overlooked perspective.

* The blogosphere is doubling every six months. 4 million bloggers update their blogs at least weekly.

* Cedric reports that, in February, Google finally won an AdWords case in France.

* 310,000 consumers were affected by Lexis-Nexis’ data breach. Lexis-Nexis offered them a free year of credit monitoring services. Only 6% took Lexis-Nexis up on the offer, a number that’s similar to other such offers (Citibank only had a 4% signup rate). Bob Sullivan tries to figure out why. Among the theories:

– consumers discarded/ignored the notification as junk mail

– consumers were suspicious that the free offer wasn’t going to be free in the end

– consumers are apathetic about privacy issues

I have my own speculation about this, but I think the time for relying on intuition is long past. Instead, I think further empirical research is critical before more legislatures robotically rubber-stamp existing legislation designed to remediate data breaches. I remain suspicious that these mandated solutions are doing nothing to help the problem, and may in fact be exacerbating the problems.

* Barton Beebe’s slides from his presentation, US Contextual Advertising Law, at the Fordham International IP conference in April.