In the Courts: Bloggers, CAN-SPAM & Supreme Cluelessness

Websites and Bloggers Targeted By Newspaper Chain; States Split on Shield Law

Stevens Media, through a Nevada company known as Right haven, LLC, has filed approximately 11 copyright infringement lawsuits against bloggers and websites.  Stevens Media, which owns Newspapers in 9 states including its flagship the Las Vegas Review , has assigned copyrights to some of its articles to a Righthaven whose lawsuits are drawing criticism since they are filed without any prior warning or cease and desist demand and it appears that some of the defendants sued merely included brief excerpts or links to the articles.

Courts in New Jersey and New Hampshire have made recent rulings on whether their state reporter shield laws that protect a reporter from having to disclose his/her sources.  The New Hampshire Supreme Court held that the shield law applied since the website involved  “serves an informative function and contributes to the flow of information to the public;” while a New Jersey appellate court reached a different conclusion citing the fact that the site owner offered “no credentials or proof of affiliation with any recognized news entity, nor has she demonstrated adherence to any standard of professional responsibility regulating institutional journalism.”

More Info: These Go To 11: Righthaven Files Yet More Copyright Lawsuits;, Online Media Daily;  Newspaper Enlists Startup To Police Web For Copyright Violations, Online Media Daily; Jersey Court Rules Blogger Not Protected By Shield Law, Must Divulge Source, Online Media Daily; and  New Hampshire Supreme Court Rules Website Covered By State Reporter’s Privilege, Citizens Media Project

Spamigator Loses Preemption Argument

A federal court rejected Asis Internet Services (aka Jason Singleton) attempt to assert a claim that using privacy protected domain names constituted false header information under California law.  Following  finding that such “technical and immaterial . . . header deficiencies.”   The court followed the Ninth Circuit ruling in Gordon to find that claims based on such “technical and immaterial . . . header deficiencies” were preempted by the CAN-SPAM Act.

More Info: Opinion

Data Scraping Case Survives Challenge

An Ohio federal court refused to grant summary judgment against Snap-on Business Solutions for its Copyright, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and trespass claims against O’Neil & Associations (O’Neil) after it scraped its site to retrieve data for a client who had switched from Snap-on to O”Neil.  This issue will be argued in the Northern District of California next month in connection with a closely watched case involving a similar claim by Facebook against social network aggregator Power Ventures.  

More Info: Opinion

Supreme Cluelessness

As the Supreme Court heard oral argument in City of Ontario vs. Quon, which concerns employee privacy expectations in text messages sent via employer provided pagers, questions from the justices were alarming in their lack of understanding of this new technology.  Chief Justice Roberts, who writes opinions by hand rather than use a computer, asked to understand the difference between an email and a pager, while Justice Kennedy asked if someone receives a text message at the same time he is sending one “[d]oes it say: ‘Your call is important to us, and we will get back to you?’”

More Info: Sexting Case Befuddles Supreme Court, Huffington Post