By: Scott Hervey

Once again, California leads the nation in passing online privacy consumer protection legislation. On September 30, 2013 Governor Jerry Brown signed into law A.B 370 which adds new provisions to California’s existing Online Privacy Protection Act (Business and Professions Code Section 22575).  These new provisions require the operators of websites, online services and  mobile applications to disclose how they respond to an electronic request not to track an individual consumer’s online activities over time and across different Web sites or online services. According to the bill’s author, Al Muratsuchi, since California passed CalOPPA in 2004, evolving technology and new business practices have raised new privacy concerns, including concerns over online behavioral tracking.


Continue Reading California Passes New Privacy Law That May Require Revisions to Most Online Privacy Policies.

By Dale C. Campbell

On July 31, 2012, the Ninth Circuit issued its ruling protecting the right of privacy held by collegiate athletes against the use of their likeness in connection with video games. (Keller v. Electronic Arts, Inc. (2013) 9th Circuit Court of Appeals 10-15387. This decision joins the Third Circuit’s decision in Ryan Hart v. Electronic Arts, Inc., U.S. App. LEXIS 10171 (3d Cir. 2013), finding that the collegiate athletes’ right to publicity outweighs Electronic Arts’ First Amendment rights. 

Sam Keller was a starting quarterback for Arizona State in 2005, before joining Nebraska in 2007. Electronic Arts ("EA") is the producer of a series of video games known as NCAA Football, in which EA seeks to replicate a school’s entire team as closely as possible. NCAA Football is an interactive game that allows the video gamer a wide range of playing options including modification of a player’s size and abilities as well as for which team he plays. Keller sued EA and the NCAA in a putative class action. EA filed a SLAPP motion ("Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation"), claiming that this conduct was protected by the First Amendment. The District Court denied the SLAPP motion, and EA appealed. 

The Ninth Circuit recognized that video games, like books, plays, and movies, are entitled to the full protections of the First Amendment.  (Brown v. Entm’t Merchs. Ass’n, 131 S.Ct. 2729, 2733 (2011). However, the First Amendment rights are not absolute, and states may recognize the right of publicity to a degree consistent with the First Amendment. (Zacchini v. Scripps-Howard Broad Co., 433 U.S. 562, 574-75 (1977).) 


Continue Reading THE NINTH CIRCUIT THROWS A PENALTY FLAG AGAINST ELECTRONIC ARTS

By: Nathan Geronimo

A few months ago I wrote about the dangers of posting information online that contradicted your own contentions when involved in litigation.  I cited to cases where posts on social networking sites were used as evidence against plaintiffs in civil cases.  A recent case involving blogs and social networking sites illustrates yet another legal issue associated with internet posts in the modern times: Posts affecting a third party’s privacy, and the possibility that such posts can be considered harassment.

Johnson v. Arlotta is a classic “jilted lover” story with a modern twist.  Andrew Arlotta and Ann Marie Johnson had a romantic relationship for just under a year.  After this relationship terminated, Arlotta continued to contact Johnson, who did not welcome Arlotta’s communications.  In late December 2009, Johnson obtained a six-month harassment restraining order against Arlotta, which prohibited Arlotta from committing any acts intended to adversely affect Johnson’s safety or privacy, and from having any contact with Johnson by email or by other means or persons.


Continue Reading Don’t Blog on Me

By Nathan Geronimo

People are better connected with friends and family than ever before.  Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter can be an excellent way to stay in touch with loved ones, and to get daily updates of people’s lives.  Similarly, through sites such as YouTube, people are able to share videos and information with others almost instantaneously.  While these sites can be great to disseminate images and information to a desired audience, they can also make information readily available to audiences that are less desirable to, and not contemplated by the poster.  There has been a great deal of buzz in recent years about employers using social media sites to perform “background checks” on prospective employees, and warning job applicants to be conscious of this fact when posting on social media sites.  In addition to this concern, recent cases illustrate a possible new concern for social media posters: use of social media posts in litigation.

In a recent decision in Louisiana, Boudwin v. General Ins. Co., Plaintiffs sued an individual and an insurance company based on alleged injuries arising out of a car accident.  In the lower Court, Plaintiff’s prevailed on the question of liability, but were unsatisfied with the jury awards of $25, 000 to the first Plaintiff, and $50,000 to the second Plaintiff.  On appeal, Plaintiffs argued that the jury erred in failing to award them any damages for physical disability or loss of enjoyment of life.  To recover based on a theory of detrimental lifestyle change, a court looks at both the severity of the injury, and Plaintiff’s lifestyle prior to the injury.


Continue Reading Involved in Litigation? Be Careful What You Post Online

By: Audrey Millemann and Etan Zaitsu

The federal Stored Communications Act (SCA) of 1986 was established in an attempt to give Fourth Amendment-type privacy protections to people for their Internet communications. In other words, Congress sought to protect people’s Internet privacy from warrantless intrusion.


Continue Reading Social Networking Websites – Just How Private Are they?