May 2009 Quick Links Part 2

By Eric Goldman

Blogs and Boards

* WSJ: Bloggers, Beware: What You Write Can Get You Sued

* j2 Global Communications v. Zilker Ventures, CV 08-07470 SJO (AJWx) (C.D. Cal. April 22, 2009). A consumer review website can putatively qualify for anti-SLAPP protection, but not in this case because the plaintiff established its prima facie case.

* Biggs Cardosa Associates Inc. v. Bradbury, 2009 WL 1508703 (Cal. App. Ct. May 29, 2009). Here’s another one for all of you Rip-off Report fans. A former employee lost a jury trial (and was hit with over $100,000 of damages) for breaching a “non-disparagement” clause in his separation agreement by posting negative comments about his former employer and colleagues on a variety of online fora, including numerous posts on the Rip-off Report.

* Houston Chronicle article on a lawsuit against a website operator for a user post saying that a woman has herpes when she, in fact, does have herpes. She is claiming public disclosure of private facts. [Stupid Houston Chronicle expired the article and moved it to its archives, breaking a number of links throughout the web. Here’s a short recap of the article.]

* Stengle v. Office of Dispute Resolution, 2009 WL 1138119 (M.D. Pa. April 27, 2009). The contract of an independent contractor government “hearing officer” was non-renewed because she blogged on the topics of her hearings, raising questions about her impartiality. As the court says in dismissing the resulting lawsuit from the hearing officer:

To reiterate, this Court fully recognizes the cherished right of free speech, as well as the commendable goals of the RA. But these cannot wash away the bona fide concerns that arise when a judicial officer elects to disseminate her opinions in cyberspace with little or no restraint. Because of her position, Plaintiff’s attempts to qualify her stances as solely her own were entirely ineffectual. With particular jobs come certain precise responsibilities. In Plaintiff’s case, one of these included avoiding even the appearance of bias via extra-judicial comments. Plaintiff’s deep concerns about the special education issues and the resulting creation of her blog ultimately caused her to face a dilemma that she alone created. The choices she freely made thereafter led to her non-renewal, and as aforestated we do not find any of the Defendants’ conduct actionable under the circumstances.

This case reminded me some of Richerson v. Beckon from last year.

* JuicyCampus redux: People’s Dirt. Let the angst over anonymous online forums begin anew.

* Doe v. Ciolli, 2009 WL 1204361 (D. Conn. April 30, 2009). In the AutoAdmit lawsuit, the court rejected Matthew Ryan’s (aka “:D”) motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.

* Facebook v. Power Ventures, Inc., 2009 WL 1299698 (N.D. Cal. May 11, 2009). Largely following the troublesome Ticketmaster v. RMG case, Power Ventures’ motion to dismiss Facebook’s copyright and DMCA claims was denied. (Other claims survived too). Comments from Jeff Neuburger and Tom O’Toole.


* Colleen Chien, Of Trolls, Davids, Goliaths, and Kings: Narratives and Evidence in the Litigation of High-Tech Patents, North Carolina Law Review, Vol. 87, 2009

* Mazur v. eBay Inc., 2009 WL 1203937 (N.D. Cal. May 5, 2009) Class certification denied. My blog post on this case’s more troubling ruling about 47 USC 230.

* Riggs v. MySpace, Inc., 2009 WL 1203365 (W.D. Pa. May 1, 2009). Venue selection clause in MySpace user agreement upheld.

* Salter v. State, 2009 WL 1409484 (Ind. App. Ct. May 20, 2009). Saving pornographic photos of a minor to a CD does not constitute the “creation” of child porn, even though a new “copy” has been created.

* State v. Bell, 2009 WL 1395857 (Ohio App. Ct. May 18, 2009). MySpace chat sessions aren’t MySpace “business records” for hearsay purposes.

* Forbes: the Hidden Costs of Privacy. This article has been written, and written again, many times in the last decade; yet the regulatory dynamics have not improved.