Articles Posted in Internet Law

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Plaintiff filed suit against BevMo seeking civil penalties for violation of Civil Code section 1747.08 of the Song-Beverly Credit Card Act, Cal. Civ. Code 1747 et seq. Plaintiff purchased alcohol online through BevMo's website and elected to pick up his order at a BevMo store. The court concluded that plaintiff was bound by the allegation in his initial complaint that the transaction was completed online when he paid for the merchandise with his credit card. Applying the Supreme Court's reasoning in Apple Inc. v. Superior Court, the court concluded that section 1747.08, subdivision (a) does not apply to plaintiff's online purchase of merchandise that he subsequently retrieved at the retail store. Accordingly, the court affirmed the trial court's judgment in favor of BevMo. View "Ambers v. Beverages & More, Inc." on Justia Law

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Navalimpianti, suing its former officers and employees (including Negro) in Florida, sought to obtain copies of e-mail messages stored by Google in California. Navalimpianti caused a subpoena to be served on Google, which Negro moved to quash. The California trial court ordered Google to produce the e-mails, based on its conclusion that Negro had consented, or was deemed to have consented, to their production. The court of appeal held that, at the time it was entered the order constituted an abuse of discretion. Since then, however, Negro has been ordered by a Florida court to give his express consent to disclosure, and he has complied with that order by e-mailing Google; the express consent takes the contemplated production outside of the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. 2702 and permits Google to make the requested disclosure.View "Negro v. Superior Ct." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit seeking an injunction to prevent Yelp, a popular website, from making claims about the accuracy and efficacy of its "filter" of unreliable or biased customer reviews. The trial court granted Yelp's special motion to strike plaintiff's complaint under Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16 because Yelp's statements at issue were matters of public interest. The court concluded that Yelp's representations about its review filter constitute commercial speech squarely within the public speech exemption of section 425.17, subdivision (c) where Yelp's statements about its review filter consists of representations of fact about Yelp's website that are made for the purpose of obtaining approval for, promoting, or securing advertisements on Yelp's website, and Yelp's statements were made in the course of delivering Yelp's website. Further, Yelp's intended audience is an actual or potential buyer or customer, or a person likely to repeat the statement to, or otherwise influence, an actual or potential buyer or customer. The court rejected Yelp's assertion that the federal Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S.C. 230, barred plaintiff's claims. Accordingly, the court reversed the trial court's order. Finally, plaintiff shall be given an opportunity to move to amend his complaint to substitute the real party in interest in this action as plaintiff. View "Demetriades v. Yelp, Inc." on Justia Law