By: Dale Campbell & Brittany Shugart

The Federal Civil Rules Advisory Committee (the “Committee”) has proposed numerous rule revisions, several of which are designed to address discovery problems related to electronically-stored information (“ESI”). ESI discovery has become extremely complex and expensive as technology continues to expand into numerous and varying communication devices and data storage. ESI is located not only on the client’s main computer servers but also on each employee’s desktop, smart phone, and tablet device.

The complications of ESI discovery have led to what this writer considers to be a disturbing trend in commercial litigation. Litigation is frequently no longer focused on the facts of the case but, instead, on burdensome discovery fights frequently related to ESI, where one side or the other hopes to win the suit by trapping their opponents in an expensive discovery quagmire, unintentional deletion of historical ESI, or a simple good faith oversight in producing ESI.


 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 Lisa Y. Wang

One usually thinks of a librarian as a calm and lawsuit-free job. However, a librarian in Canada is facing a $3.5-million lawsuit over a personal blog post he wrote three years ago. Dale Askey, an associate librarian at McMaster University, is being sued by Edwin Mellen Press Ltd., an international academic publishing company, who filed two lawsuits last June.

Mellen Press alleges that Askey accused them of “accepting second class authors” and urging “university libraries not to buy (their) titles because they are of poor quality and poor scholarship.” While this lawsuit will be heard in Canadian court under Canadian law, bloggers have been threatened with lawsuits in the US for articles they’ve written and opinions they’ve expressed. This brings up a whole slew of First Amendment issues and the SLAPP statute. 

If this lawsuit were filed in the United States, it might be considered a “SLAPP” (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) lawsuit. SLAPP refers to a lawsuit or legal threat intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition. Typically SLAPP lawsuits target ordinary citizens who cannot afford to pay the hefty legal fees it takes to defend such a lawsuit. They are a method used to intimate others from participating in debate and free speech and can be a strong method of silencing critics. SLAPP lawsuits often come in the form of a lawsuit claiming defamation or libel. The defining characteristic of a SLAPP lawsuit is that the plaintiff usually loses the case. However, a typical SLAPP lawsuit does not get to the trial phase as it is method used to chill the speech of citizens.Continue Reading Bloggers’ Rights and anti-SLAPP

By: James Kachmar

In late December, the Ninth Circuit revisited the “safe harbor” provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) in the case UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Veoh Networks, Inc., 101 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1001. Veoh is a web service that allows users to view videos uploaded by other users.   Veoh was sued for copyright infringement by UMG, one of the world’s largest music and music publishing companies. 

Before a user can upload and share a video, on Veoh’s site, he/she must agree to Veoh’s publisher terms and conditions and terms of use, both of which bar the user from uploading any videos that infringe on another’s copyrights. Also immediately prior to uploading a video, a message appears on Veoh’s website warning the user not to upload infringing videos. Continue Reading Revisiting the “Safe Harbor” Provisions of the DMCA