Heather is a regular speaker on hot topics in Internet law, technology, cyber security, and IP law. She has been named a Super Lawyer Rising Star and Top Attorney. Heather is currently serving as the Program Chair for the California State Bar Intellectual Property Section’s Technology, Internet, and Privacy Interest Group. Heather can be reached at [email protected].
The lack of regulations here has led to the absolute worst-case scenario. People with disabilities have not been served since most companies are unaware this is an issue. Most don’t even realize this is something they have to consider until they receive a demand letter. That has certainly been the case for some of my clients. This leads to a scramble to get compliant. Unfortunately, it can take up to a year to do so depending on the complexity of the site. Meanwhile, plaintiffs’ attorneys across the country are taking advantage of the confusion. More than 260 website accessibility lawsuits were filed in 2016, and significantly more were filed by the end of 2017. But these numbers do not even begin to cover the cases that are settled pre-litigation.
Internet attorneys spend our days fighting the good fight – at least that’s what I think I do. In a time where judges confuse metadata and metatags, and people believe everything online is “in the public domain,” we march on. We worry about keeping the first amendment in tact and relentlessly champion Section 230, even when our protagonists are less than ideal (i.e., Backpage.com, thedirty.com). For better or for worse, we do our best, to make the Internet a place where people can have their opinions, and the companies we represent don’t get sued for them. So, what happens when the CEO of Reddit, one of the largest community forum websites out there, decides to have a little fun at the expense of Trump supporters/moderators on the subreddit, r/The_Donald? Let’s put it this way, nothing good.
To replace the now-defunct Safe Harbor agreement, last week the European Commission published the first details of its transatlantic Privacy Shield. The Privacy Shield is meant to strengthen obligations on US companies to protect European personal data, and improve regulations regarding data monitoring by US government agencies. With the release of the draft Privacy Shield, many are skeptical that it will ensure proper privacy protection and some believe that it may be challenged after implementation.
VeRO is ebay’s Verified Rights Owner program. VeRO allows a right’s owner (someone who has a verified trademark, copyright, etc.) to request removal of an item. A company by the name of Mad Dogg Athletics, Inc. (MDA) is a member of the eBay VeRO Program and uses this program to enforce the nearly one hundred trademarks it owns, which include: spin, spinning, spinner, spin yoga, spinfitness, and spin daddy. With that said, only MDA’s Spin® bike can be called that, and so my client’s “spin bike” listing was removed due to use of the word spin.
Judge McKeown rejects Garcia’s copyright claim, explaining, “Innocence of Muslims is an audiovisual work that is categorized as a motion picture and is derivative of the script. Garcia is the author of none of this and makes no copyright claim to the film of the script. Instead, Garcia claims that her five-second performance itself merits copyright protection.” During litigation, the Copyright Office found Garcia’s performance was not eligible for copyright.
The court ruled that the relevance of her photographs greatly outweighed Nucci’s minimal privacy interest. Nucci argued that she had a legitimate expectation of privacy in her photographs since her Facebook profile was set to “private.” However, the court was not convinced and explained that photographs posted on a social media site are neither privileged nor protected by any right of privacy, regardless of the privacy settings established by the user. After all, the court pointed out that the very nature of these social media sites is to share photographs with others, so a user cannot later claim a legitimate expectation of privacy.