In February 1996, faced with increasing public concern about the availability of pornography on the internet, as well as recent court decisions that seem to deter efforts to filter out such content, Congress enacted the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”).  As part of the CDA, Congress granted immunity to internet service providers from liability for actions they took to help users block online content that a user found to be offensive or objectionable.  Congress further declared its goals in enacting the CDA, and its immunity provision, were “to encourage the development of technologies which maximize user control;” “to empower parents to restrict their children’s access to objectionable or inappropriate online content;” and “to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the internet and other interactive computer services.”  In 2009, the Ninth Circuit decided the case, Zango, Inc. v. Kaspersky Lab, Inc., 568 F.3d 1169, which held that the immunity provisions of the CDA applied to computer software developers whose programs were intended to help users filter out or block objectionable material.  It is against the backdrop of the history of the CDA and its decision in the Zango case that the Ninth Circuit was called upon to explore the limits of the immunity provided by the CDA in the case, Enigma Software Group USA, LLC v. Malwarebytes, Inc., decided December 31, 2019.  In essence, the Ninth Circuit was called upon to determine whether the immunity provisions of the CDA, specifically section 230(c)(2), immunizes a software company whose blocking and filtering decisions are driven “by anti-competitive animus,” i.e., to deter users from accessing or using a competitor’s software products.
Continue Reading Is Your Competitor Objectionable? The Scope of Immunity Under the Communications Decency Act

Apple just escaped a $533 million jury verdict by invalidating the plaintiff’s patents on the grounds that the patents cover abstract ideas.

The case is Smartflash, LLC v. Apple Inc., decided by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals on March 1, 2017.  Smartflash owned three patents for technology that limited Internet access to data (video,

By W. Scott Cameron

The Internet is a seemingly endless and ever-expanding collection of information. You can find almost anything on the Internet if you look for it, and look in the right place. To find it, however, you often need the “domain name,” or address, of the web site that has the information you want. Every web page has its own unique domain name, and only one company can maintain the database that keeps track of all the domain names on the Internet. That company, currently VeriSign, Inc., essentially controls the Internet. The way VeriSign got that control, and the way it keeps it, led the Coalition for ICANN Transparency, Inc. (“CFIT”), to file an antitrust lawsuit, CFIT v. VeriSign, Inc. The Ninth Circuit ruled this week that CFIT can go forward with its suit, reversing the district court which had dismissed the suit three times. This begs the question: Will the Ninth Circuit bring down the Internet?

 Continue Reading Will An Antitrust Lawsuit Bring Down The Internet? CFIT v. VeriSign, Inc.