In the Courts: Jiffy’s $47 Million, Gambling, Backpage, Kim Dotcom, Defamation and ISP Censorship Right

Advertiser Settles Text Messaging Claim under TCPA for $47 Million

Jiffy Lube’s parent corporation may pay $47 million under a class action settlement arising from sending text messaging wthout opt-in consent in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.  Unlike CAN-SPAM which does not impose any opt-in requirements, text messages require opt-in consent under the TCPA.

More info:  Jiffy Lube Franchisee Settles Spam Case For $47 Mil, Online Media Daily.

Justice Department Settles with Online Poker Sites

Last April, the Justice Department shut down online Poker in the United States with its indictment of and seizure of the domains of the top online poker sites – including Full Tilt Poker and  PokerStars – a day referred to as “Black Friday” in the industry.  Last month, DOJ settled with the major players with Full Tilt forfeiting its assets and PokerStars acquiring them for over #700 million, with the provisio that it not engage in online gambling in the US until it is legal to do so.

More Info:  PokerStars settles, acquires FTP, ESPN

Backpage/Village Voice Media Wins Battle Over Washington Law

A federal court has blocked enforcement of a Washington state law that made it a crime to run an ad for sex with a minor which imposed liability even if the publisher had no knowledge of the person’s age and instead the only defense was that they verified the poster’s age through some governmental identification.  A federal judge found the law preempted by the Communications Decency Act which immunizes websites for third party content, leading the bill’s author to state ” it is time for Congress to reexamine the Federal Communications Decency Act and its application to websites that feature escort and adult content section to call for changes.”

More Info; RulingWashington AG Press Release

New Zealand Court: US Hasn’t Met Burden to Extradite Kim Dotcom 

The U.S. government’s controversial shut down of MegaUpload and prosecution of its founder Kim Dotcom hit a speed bump as a New Zealand appellate court ruled that the U.S. government has failed to provide sufficient evidence to sustain its burden for extradition and that it must begin to share information with Dotcom to enable him to defend against the charges.  The U.S. is expected to appeal the ruling to the New Zealand Supreme Court.

More Info: New Zealand Judge Orders U.S. to Disclose Megaupload Evidence, Wired.

Verizon Claims First Amendment Right to Censor

In its opening brief in challenging the FCC’s Open Internet Order (aka Net Neutrality), in addition to arguing that the FCC exceeds the scope of its authority Verizon also claims that broadband service providers

possess “editorial discretion.” Just as a newspaper is entitled to decide which content to publish and where, broadband providers may feature some content over others. Although broadband providers have generally exercised their discretion to allow all content in an undifferentiated manner, they nonetheless possess discretion that these rules preclude them from exercising.

As Simon Malloy at Media Matters notes, however, “it’s tough for an ISP to argue that it isn’t a neutral pathway when ISPs also benefit from laws [such as the Communications Decency Act] that treat them as neutral pathways.”

More Info: Censorship = Freedom?, Free Press; Verizon Wants The “Freedom” To Edit Your Internet, Media Matters.

Use of Hyperlinks Helps Publisher Defeat Defamation Claim

A California Court of Appeal affirmed a SLAPP dismissal of a defamation claim, noting that

the sources upon which the authors rely for their conclusions are specified, and the article incorporates active links to many of the original sources—mainly Web sites and promotional material created and maintained by Redmond and his ventures… Having ready access to the same facts as the authors, readers were put in a position to draw their own conclusions about Redmond and his ventures and technologies… Statements are generally considered to be nonactionable opinion when the facts supporting the opinion are disclosed.

More Information: Opinion