Articles Posted in Internet Law

by
Between 1996-1999, Skulason was convicted of three misdemeanors involving the operation of a vehicle. In 2000, she applied for a real estate salesperson’s license. The Bureau of Real Estate initiated an administrative proceeding by filing a statement listing Skulason’s three convictions and alleging that they “constitute[d] cause for denial of [Skulason’s] application,” Gov. Code, 11504. The proceeding settled in 2004. Skulason admitted the allegations; the Board agreed to issue a restricted license. The settlement did not require the parties to maintain its confidentiality. In 2010, Skulason obtained an unrestricted license. Three years later, she obtained court dismissals of her three misdemeanor convictions. The Bureau maintains a public website that contains information about real estate licensees, including Skulason. It identifies her license number, its unrestricted status, the dates of issuance and expiration, and actions the Bureau has taken involving her license. Under the heading “Disciplinary or Formal Action Documents,” is a link to the case number of the administrative proceeding that resulted in Skulason’s 2004 restricted license. The court of appeal reversed an order that the Bureau remove the information. The Board has no mandatory duty to remove from its website publicly available information about a licensee’s convictions, including convictions that are eventually dismissed under Penal Code sections 1203.4 and 1203.4a. View "Skulason v. California Bureau of Real Estate" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs are Cross, also known as Mikel Knight, a country rap artist, and his businesses. Two vans, carrying independent contractors promoting Knight’s music, were involved in accidents that resulted in two deaths. “Families Against Mikel Knight,” apparently created by relatives of the accident victims, posted a Facebook page, which, plaintiffs claimed, incited violence and generated death threats against Knight. Plaintiffs sought to have the page removed. Facebook refused. Facebook filed a special motion to dismiss Plaintiffs’ subsequent suit, which alleged breach of written contract; negligent misrepresentation; negligent interference with prospective economic relations; breach of Civil Code section 3344; violation of common law right of publicity; and unlawful and unfair business practices. The trial court held that the complaint was based on protected activity, that plaintiffs could not prevail on the first three causes of action, and granted the anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, Code of Civil Procedure 425.16) motion as to them but denied the motion as to the three other causes of action. The court of appeal ruled in favor of Facebook and ordered that the complaint be stricken, noting that Facebook derived no benefit from any use of Knight’s name or likeness. View "Cross v. Facebook, Inc." on Justia Law

by
FilmOn filed suit against DoubleVerify for trade libel, slander, and other business-related torts, alleging DoubleVerify falsely classified FilmOn's websites under the categories "Copyright Infringement-File Sharing" and "Adult Content" in confidential reports to certain clients that subsequently cancelled advertising agreements with FilmOn. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's grant of DoubleVerify's motion to strike pursuant to the anti-SLAPP statute. The court held that the trial court properly found DoubleVerify engaged in conduct in furtherance of its constitutional right of free speech in connection with an issue of public interest. View "FilmOn.com v. DoubleVerify, Inc." on Justia Law

by
ZL provides email archiving, eDiscovery, and compliance support to businesses nationwide. Glassdoor operates a website on which people may anonymously express opinions regarding employers. Individuals representing themselves as current or former ZL employees posted anonymous reviews on Glassdoor‘s website criticizing ZL‘s management and work environment. ZL filed a complaint against those individuals, naming them as Doe defendants and alleging libel per se (Civil Code 45) and online impersonation (Penal Code 528.5) to the extent any of them was not a ZL employee. ZL served a subpoena on Glassdoor, requesting identification and contact information for defendants. Glassdoor objected, arguing: violation of the First Amendment and California Constitution privacy rights; the posted statements were “protected opinion, patently hyperbolic, not harmful to reputation,” or uncontested statements of fact; Glassdoor‘s reputation would be harmed by disclosure; and, ZL was obligated to make a prima facie showing the statements were libelous before it could compel disclosure. The court denied ZL’s motion to compel. More than a year later, the court dismissed the action because of ZL‘s failure to serve the defendants. The court of appeal reversed. While an author‘s decision to remain anonymous is protected by the Constitution, a reasonable fact finder could conclude all of the reviews contained statements that declared or implied provably false assertions of fact, providing a legally sufficient basis for a defamation cause of action. View "ZL Technologies v. Doe" on Justia Law

by
After a Machine Zone (MZ) employee posted a review on Glassdoor's website disclosing confidential information regarding MZ's RTPlatform technology, MZ filed suit against the employee for violation of a nondisclosure agreement signed by all MZ employees. When Glassdoor refused to identify the employee, MZ moved for an order compelling disclosure, which the trial court granted. Glassdoor petitioned for a writ directing the trial court to set aside its order. The court concluded that Glassdoor has standing to assert the employee's interest in maintaining his anonymity as against MZ's efforts to compel Glassdoor to identify him. The court concluded that MZ failed to make a prima facie showing that the employee's statements disclosed confidential information in violation of the nondisclosure agreement, and granted the requested relief. In this case, MZ denied the accuracy of the employee's report without identifying any real confidential information it might be understood to have disclosed. View "Glassdoor, Inc. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

by
Attorney Hassell obtained a judgment holding Bird liable for defamation and requiring her to remove defamatory reviews she posted about Hassell on Yelp.com. The judgment contained an order requiring Yelp to remove Bird’s defamatory reviews from its site. Yelp, who was not a party in the defamation action, moved to vacate the judgment. The court of appeal affirmed denial of that motion, but remanded. The court concluded that Yelp is not “aggrieved” by the defamation judgment against Bird, but is “aggrieved” by the removal order; Yelp’s motion to vacate was not cognizable under Code of Civil Procedure section 6632; Yelp has standing to challenge the validity of the removal order as an “aggrieved party,” having brought a nonstatutory motion to vacate; Yelp’s due process rights were not violated by its lack of prior notice and a hearing on the removal order request; the removal order does not violate Yelp’s First Amendment rights to the extent that it requires Yelp to remove Bird’s defamatory reviews; to the extent it purports to cover statements other than Bird’s defamatory reviews, the removal order is an overbroad unconstitutional prior restraint on speech; and Yelp’s immunity from suit under the Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S.C. 230, does not extend to the removal order. View "Hassell v. Bird" on Justia Law

by
California’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 2003 (OPPA), under the unfair competition law (Bus. & Prof. Code 17200 et. seq.), addresses the obligations of an operator of a commercial Web site or online service regarding the posting of a privacy policy on the Internet. The state sought damages and injunctive relief under OPPA, alleging that Delta’s Fly Delta mobile application violated the privacy policy requirements. The trial court dismissed, finding the suit expressly preempted by the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 (49 U.S.C. 41713 (b)(1)). The court of appeal affirmed. To compel Delta to comply with the OPPA would effectively interfere with the airline’s “selection and design” of its mobile application, a marketing mechanism “appropriate to the furnishing of air transportation service,” for which state enforcement has been held to be expressly preempted. View "Harris v. Delta Air Lines" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff, on behalf of himself and a putative class of California consumers who purchased flower arrangements through Provide's website, ProFlowers.com, filed suit alleging consumer fraud claims. On appeal, Provide challenges the trial court's order denying its petition to compel arbitration. The Terms of Use on ProFlowers.com fall into a category of Internet contracts commonly referred to as “browsewrap” agreements. Plaintiff opposed the petition to compel arbitration on the ground that he was never prompted to assent to the Terms of Use, nor did he actually read them, prior to placing his order on ProFlowers.com. The court found that the hyperlinks and the overall design of the ProFlowers.com website would not have put a reasonably prudent Internet user on notice of Provide’s Terms of Use, and Plaintiff therefore did not unambiguously assent to the subject arbitration provision simply by placing an order on ProFlowers.com. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Long v. Provide Commerce, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Lewis sued the video-sharing service, YouTube, for breach of contract it deleted her "channel." YouTube filed a filed a request for judicial notice of the YouTube Community Guidelines and several e-mails between Lewis and YouTube.The trial court granted the request for judicial notice and entered a judgment of dismissal. The court of appeal affirmed, stating that no provision in the Terms of Service could serve as the basis for the relief that Lewis sought. The court noted that YouTube has restored service for Lewis. View "Lewis v. YouTube" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts, Internet Law

by
Hunter and Sullivan were indicted on murder, weapons, and gang-related charges stemming from a drive-by shooting. Each served a subpoena duces tecum on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, seeking both public and private content from user accounts of the murder victim and a witness. The companies moved to quash the subpoenas, citing the federal Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. 2702(a), which provides that electronic communication services “shall not knowingly divulge” the contents of a user communication to anyone, with limited exceptions). Defendants responded that the requested information is necessary to properly defend against the pending charges, and that any statutory privacy protections afforded a social media user must yield to a criminal defendant’s constitutional rights to due process, presentation of a complete defense, and effective assistance of counsel. The trial court denied the motions to quash and ordered the companies to produce responsive material for in camera review. The court of appeal directed the trial court to issue an order quashing the subpoenas. View "Facebook, Inc. v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law