In the Courts: Social Media in the Workplace, Righthaven, e360’s $3.00



Judge Reinstates Workers Fired for Complaining on Facebook

An administrative law judge ruled in favor of five workers who were fired for complaining about workplace conditions on Facebook. The judge concluded that “a conversation among co-workers about their terms and conditions of employment” is protected under the National Labor Relations Act regardless of whether it is in person or via Facebook.  The ruling comes on the heels of a much discussed  report by the National Labor Relations Board’s General Counsel that emphasized the same point which was discussed on yesterday’s Cyber Law and Business Report with employment lawyer Andrew Slobodien.  Slobodien also discussed common employment issues faced by tech companies and startups.

More Info: NLRB Report; Don Reisinger, Fired Facebook Commenters Ordered Back to Work, CNET; CLBR Podcast; 

EFF Asks Court to Declare TKO on Righthaven Lawsuits

After a string of losses that include having to pay nearly $40,000 in fees and sanctions, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is asking a Nevada federal judge to dismiss Righthaven’s remaining cases.  “They have wasted too much time and treasure of the court and the defendants and abused the legal process for long enough, suing to profit from quick settlements on a copyright they do not, and did not own.”

The request comes just as Righthaven’s second largest client, the parent company of the Denver Post, has concluded the venture was a “stupid idea”.

More Info: Wendy Davis, “EFF Asks Court To Halt ‘Righthaven’s Legal Charade,” Daily Online Examiner

California Federal Court: Copyright Laws Meant to Promote Useful Arts,
Not “Massive Collection Schemes”

A California Federal judge expressed concern over an adult entertainment company’s prosecution of its copyright infringement claims against Doe defendants as geared more towards extortionate settlements due to

“plaintiff’s refusal to file under seal a copy of its settlement letter and related information about its settlement practices. The film sells for $19.95 on plaintiff’s website. According to public reports, plaintiffs in other BitTorrent cases, rather than prosecuting their lawsuits after learning the identities of Does, are demanding thousands of dollars from each Doe defendant in settlement. If all this is correct, it raises questions of whether this film was produced for commercial purposes or for purposes of generating litigation and settlements.  Put another way, Article 1, section 8 of the Constitution authorizes Congress to enact copyright laws “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.” If all the concerns about these mass Doe lawsuits are true, it appears that the copyright laws are being used as part of a massive collection scheme and not to promote useful arts.”

More Info:  Nate Anderson, “A massive collection scheme”: Yet another judge slams file-sharing lawsuits, Ars Technica

e360’s $11M Judgment Against Spamhaus Reduced to $3.00

This case gained widespread attention after e360 won an $11 million default judgment against Spamhaus for defamation by including it in Spamhaus’ infamous ROKSO.  Damages were later reduced to $27,002 and then on appeal to $3.00, with Seventh Circuit Judge Posner explaining that

“[b]y failing to comply with its basic discovery obligations, a party can snatch defeat from the jaws of certain victory. After our earlier remand, all e360 needed to do was provide a reasonable estimate of the harm it suffered from Spamhaus’s conduct.  Rather than do so, however, e360 engaged in a pattern of delay that ultimately cost it the testimony of all but one witness with any personal knowledge of its damages. That lone witness lost all credibility when he painted a wildly unrealistic picture of e360’s losses. Having squandered its opportunity to present its case, e360 must content itself with nominal damages on each of its claims, and nothing more.” 

More Info e360’s $11 Million Win Against Spamhaus… Now Reduced To Just $3 (Not $3 Million, But Just $3), Tech Dirt; 

Litigation Briefs

  • VT Supreme Court: No Privacy Expectation for IP Addresses

    Vermont Supreme Court rules Internet users have “no reasonable expectation of privacy in their subscriber information, the length of their stored files, and other noncontent data to which service providers must have access.”  (State v. Simmons)

  • History Sniffing Lawsuit Proceeds

    Court rejected claims against advertiser and federal claims against ad network, but allows state law claims to proceed.

  • ISPs Not Liable for Email Filtering

    A California Federal Court dismissed a complaint against ISPs for computer fraud, intentional interference with contract, intentional interference with prospective business advantage, wiretapping/eavesdropping, and violation of Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 because the Communications Decency Act immunizes interactive computer service providers from liability for filtering activities.  

  • Cal Bar – Using Coffee Shop Wireless
    to Communicate with Clients Raises Ethical concerns

    In an advisory opinion, the California State Bar Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct held that an attorney “risks violating his duties of confidentiality and competence  in  using  the  wireless  connection  at  the  coffee  shop  to  work  on” client matters.