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In the Courts

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Supreme Court determines Aereo violates copyright – back to the drawing board

This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision that Aereo violates copyright law by retransmitting over-the-air programming without authorization.  This will shut down the controversial start-up or force them back to the drawing board to come up with a new system.  The sound you heard was a huge sigh of relief of … Continue Reading

You’ve looked at my site and now you have waived your right to sue me. Is that legal?

I’ll admit, General Mills did not go that far.  What they did, according to The New York Times was notify customers that if they downloaded a coupon, joined a forum or entered a sweepstakes, the customer would waive their right to sue in court and would have to go through an online “informal negotiation” or arbitration.
Since … Continue Reading

When Online Behavior Crosses the Line – The Law on Threats, Libel and Just Being Rude

A frequent question we get is what can we do about the online posting about me?  Often times, the answer is not much.  Lawyers can only help when the online conduct crosses the line into a cognizable cause of action.  Figuring that out is the hard part.
The Threatening or Harassing Post
Is there an ex spewing … Continue Reading

Regulating revenge porn and explicit online communications with children – easier said than done

Everyone supports the prevention of sexual predators texting illicit material to people under 17.  Everyone knows that revenge porn is a scourge on public decency.  But, can the law do anything about it?  Should it?
Texas Throws Out Law Banning Explicit Online Communications With Minors.
Yesterday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (our highest court that hears … Continue Reading

Facebook “Like” is Protected First Amendment Speech

I don’t often make predictions on legal outcomes, so when I do and I get it right, it’s worth sharing.  In May, we talked about whether “liking” a candidate would constitute protected speech under the First Amendment.  A district judge in Virginia ruled it was not.  The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently reversed in … Continue Reading

Quick Links – August 2013

Rocky Mountain National Park
Because of an extended working vacation away from Houston’s heat in Colorado, I’ve been away from the blog.  Like my kids gearing up to go back to school, I’m getting back to the normal work mode back in the office while recovering from a separated shoulder from a mountain biking incident (riding … Continue Reading

Tread Carefully When Using Competitor’s Trademarked Name With Online Advertising

The Tenth Circuit issued a decision yesterday in the 1-800 Contacts v. Lens.com case we discussed several years ago when originally filed.   For those of you who simply want the result, the Court of Appeals ruled:
1.  There was no evidence of likelihood of confusion – an essential element to a trademark claim.
2.  The court also … Continue Reading

Texas Leg 2013 Wrap-Up – Texas Does Not Take the Lead on Social Media Issues

Although the Governor called a special session extending the Texas Legislative session, the topics to be addressed are political ones and not the ones we have been tracking.  We can therefore wrap-up our watch of the three bills we were monitoring.
First, bring out your dead!

HB 318/SB 118 social media passwords
A bill that would have prohibited … Continue Reading

You “like” me, you really “like” me – Looking at the legal effect of Facebook likes and friends

Is liking something expressive activity protected by the First Amendment?  Does being a Facebook “friend” create the appearance of impropriety requiring the judge to recuse himself from the case?  Leave it to Facebook to make us answer these questions.
You don’t like me, you just want my coupon . . .
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is … Continue Reading

Does the Communications Decency Act Protect Human Trafficking?

The State of Texas may find out and it may be more applicable to your site than you think.  In early filing for the 2013 legislative session, Democratic state Senator Leticia Van de Putte proposed a bill aimed at stopping at stopping human trafficking.  The entire text is here.
It allows for human trafficking victims to bring … Continue Reading