Damage Claims against YouTube Dismissed. The English Premier League formed a class of non-US copyright holders to sue YouTube for statutory damages when their programs aired on YouTube. I discussed the original filing here and here. Yesterday, the court ruled that because these foreign entities never registered their works in the U.S., they could not recover Copyright Act damages. The EPL is claiming a small victory because the court did say the foreign entities could prevent or seek damages for unauthorized live broadcasts. The good games will still be on Fox Soccer Channel. It seems many of the past games are on there as well when FSC has nothing else to run.
Drew Acquital. Although the story behind the Lori Drew prosecution is tragic, the use of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to prosecute Drew had many concerned the sky was falling. I discussed the initial conviction here. The jury convicted Drew, but the judge last week tentatively acquitted her of the charges. I am not sure what is worse, trying to shoe horn existing law to fit perceptions of cyber-bullying or having many state legislatures, Texas included, create new overly broad online harassment laws.
Houston’s loses case when it “coerced” an employee to give managers access to MySpace group. I discussed this case here before the trial. Summarily, a Houston’s restaurant manager found out there was a private MySpace group for the restaurant’s employees where employees freely criticized the restaurant and management. The manager “coerced” one of the hostesses to give him her password so he could see what was discussed by the group. Two of the employees who formed the group and participated were then fired. They sued on privacy grounds, wiretapping and violations of state and federal Stored Communications Act violations. The court threw out the wiretapping claim, but allowed the others. The jury determined there was no expectation of privacy, but did find Houston’s accessed stored electronic communications without authority by coercing the hostess to provide her password. Would things have been different if Houston’s had a condition of employment in a contract or policy that if there is discussion of business matters in an electronic forum, Houston’s has the right to view the material? The employee could have then been left with the Hobson’s Choice of giving up the password or face termination. The lesson for employers: if you want to snoop, don’t coerce passwords. If you are the employee, hope the private conversations remain private and study the Stored Communications Act.
Texas Recently-Passed Shield Law May Have Prevented Disclosure of Online Commenters. I have discussed Texas’s passage of the shield law during this last legislative session at least here and here. My main issue with the law was its lack of protection for bloggers and others who would not be considered journalists as defined in the statute because they do not do journalism for their livelihood or substantial financial gain. Although the details are not very clear, it appears the shield law may allow newspapers to at least prevent the disclosure of online commenters. A criminal defendant near Abilene wanted the identities to allegedly make sure none of the commenters made it on the jury. The newspaper fought the request under the new shield law and First Amendment protections for anonymous speech. The court prohibited the disclosure of the identity, but did not provide an explanation for the ruling. I know nothing about the underlying murder case, but I do feel selfish hoping for a conviction so the issue can go up on appeal.
Yahoo Securities Claim Based on Click Fraud Dismissed. The plaintiff claimed Yahoo committed stock fraud by overstating its revenues when Yahoo recognized revenues Yahoo knew were the result of click fraud and would never actually materialize. Last fall, the court ruled the plaintiff failed to plead a claim, but gave the plaintiff one more try to plead a claim with some concrete allegations that could state a case. Apparently, the plaintiff couldn’t. Having nothing to do with this suit, Yahoo’s stock has fallen from about $24 per share when the case was filed to $14 today. The decline cannot be a result of overstated click fraud revenues.
Thanks for letting me clear out my “inbox” and at least I didn’t mention Michael Jackson or Sarah Palin. But what’s up with the Governor of South Carolina?