Articles Posted in Communications Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings in an action alleging that defendant violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. 227. The court held that a flu shot reminder text message sent by a hospital did not violate the TCPA because the text fell within the scope of plaintiff's prior express consent. In this case, plaintiff provided defendant with his cell phone number when he first visited the hospital; signed a consent form acknowledging receipt of various privacy notices; in signing the form, agreed that the hospital could share his information for "treatment" purposes; and the privacy notices stated that defendant could use plaintiff's information to recommend possible treatment alternatives or health-related benefits and services. View "Latner v. Mt. Sinai Health System, Inc." on Justia Law

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After receiving the answer to two certified questions from the Nevada Supreme Court, the Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's defamation suit. The Nevada Supreme Court held that a hyperlink to source material about a judicial proceeding may suffice as a report within the common law fair report privilege, and that the online petition, as it existed when plaintiff's complaint was filed, fell within the purview of Nevada's fair report privilege. The state court also held that, pursuant to Delucchi v. Songer, 396 P.3d 826 (Nev. 2017), Nevada's anti-SLAPP statute covers communication that is aimed at procuring any governmental or electoral action, result or outcome which is truthful or is made without knowledge of its falsehood, even if that communication was not addressed to a government agency. In this case, plaintiff failed to allege knowledge of falsity, much less facts to support such a conclusion. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiff's request for additional discovery and the district court's application of the anti‐SLAPP statute to this case. View "Adelson v. Harris" on Justia Law

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George Elias, IV, Stephen Hadford, and Ross Fowler appealed the district court's dismissal of their defamation claims against Rolling Stone and others, alleging claims arising from a now-retracted Rolling Stone magazine article titled, "A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA" as well as a subsequent online podcast. The Second Circuit held that the district court properly dismissed plaintiffs' defamation claim arising from the podcast; the district court properly dismissed plaintiffs' claims relating to Hadford individually; with regard to Elias and Fowler, the complaint plausibly alleged that the statements in the article were "of and concerning" them individually; and the complaint plausibly alleged that all plaintiffs were defamed as members of the Phi Kappa Psi under a theory of small group defamation. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Elias v. Rolling Stone LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Communications Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of this defamation action as to the out-of-state defendants, holding that Connecticut General Statute 52‐59b—which provides for long‐arm jurisdiction over certain out‐of‐state defendants except in defamation actions—does not violate plaintiff's First or Fourteenth Amendment rights. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's defamation claim based on the "as much as $500 million" statement under the New York Civil Rights Law 74, but held that the district court erred in dismissing plaintiff's claim based on the "repeatedly tried to extort" statement. Therefore, the court reversed in part the dismissal of plaintiff's claim against the Bloomberg Defendants and remanded for further proceedings. View "Friedman v. Bloomberg L.P." on Justia Law

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Tannerite appealed the district court's dismissal of its defamation suit against NBC. The Second Circuit held that federal pleading standards, when applied to New York law, require a plaintiff asserting a defamation claim to allege facts demonstrating that the defendant made a false statement. In this case, Tannerite's complaint failed to allege that NBC made false statements regarding Tannerite exploding rifle targets. View "Tannerite Sports, LLC v. NBCUniversal News Group" on Justia Law

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Time Warner filed suit alleging a violation of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1 et seq., in the tying of certain premium cable television services to the leasing of ʺinteractiveʺ set‐top cable boxes. The district court dismissed two iterations of the complaint, including the Third Amended Complaint, the operative complaint for the purposes of this opinion. The court held that the Third Amended Complaint fails to adequately plead facts that, if proven, would establish that:  (i) the set‐top cable boxes and the premium programming they transmit are separate products for the purposes of antitrust law; and (ii) Time Warner possesses sufficient market power in the relevant markets to establish an illegal tie‐in. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "In re Set-Top Cable Television Box Antitrust Litig." on Justia Law

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Microsoft appealed from the district court's order denying its motion to quash a warrant issued under section 2703 of the Stored Communications Act (SCA), 18 U.S.C. 2701 et seq., and holding Microsoft in contempt of court for refusing to execute the warrant on the government’s behalf. The warrant directed Microsoft to seize and produce the contents of an e‐mail account - an account believed to be used in furtherance of narcotics trafficking - that it maintains for a customer who uses the company’s electronic communications services. Microsoft produced its customer’s non‐content information to the government, as directed. That data was stored in the United States. But Microsoft ascertained that, to comply fully with the warrant, it would need to access customer content that it stores and maintains in Ireland and to import that data into the United States for delivery to federal authorities. The court concluded that Congress did not intend the SCA’s warrant provisions to apply extraterritorially. The focus of those provisions is protection of a user’s privacy interests. Accordingly, the SCA does not authorize a United States court to issue and enforce an SCA warrant against a United States‐based service provider for the contents of a customer’s electronic communications stored on servers located outside the United States. Therefore, the court concluded that the district court lacked authority to enforce the warrant against Microsoft. The court reversed the denial of the motion to quash because Microsoft has complied with the warrant’s domestic directives and resisted only its extraterritorial aspect; vacated the finding of civil contempt; and remanded with instructions to the district court to quash the warrant insofar as it directs Microsoft to collect, import, and produce to the government customer content stored outside the United States. View "Microsoft v. United States" on Justia Law

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Peter Paul Biro, a controversial figure known in the art world for using fingerprint analysis to authenticate art in an effort to insert a measure of objectivity into a previously subjective process, filed suit against the New Yorker defendants as well as republishers for defamation after an article was published about him. Among other things, the article contained interviews of various individuals critical of plaintiff, and it suggested that he stood to profit from some of his more dubious authentications. The district court dismissed the complaint. The court held that Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires a limited‐purpose public figure to plead in a plausible way that defendants acted with actual malice. In this case, the court concluded that plaintiff failed to plausibly allege that defendants acted with actual malice. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Biro v. Conde Nast" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), 18 U.S.C. 1030, and the Stored Communications Act (SCA), 18 U.S.C. 2701 et seq., alleging that defendant, her former boyfriend, had gained access to her e-mail and Facebook accounts without her permission and therefore in violation of the CFAA and the SCA. Plaintiff discovered that she could not log on to her AOL e-mail account on or about August 1, 2011 and plaintiff discovered that she could not log into her Facebook account on February 24, 2012. The district court granted defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint as untimely. While the CFAA and the SCA provided a civil cause of action, the statute of limitations to file under each statute is two years. The court concluded that plaintiff's claims relating to defendant's alleged unlawful access to her e-mail account are time-barred because she filed suit on January 2, 2014, after the two year statute of limitations had expired. However, the court concluded that plaintiff's claims relating to the alleged unlawful access of her Facebook account were timely filed, less than two years from the date they accrued. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Sewell v. Bernardin" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs challenged, on statutory and constitutional grounds, the telephone metadata program under which the NSA collects in bulk "on an ongoing daily basis" the metadata associated with telephone calls made by and to Americans. The NSA aggregates those metadata into a repository or data bank that can later be queried. The district court granted defendants' motion to dismiss and denied plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction. The court concluded that the plaintiffs have standing to sue; the court disagreed with the district court insofar as it held that plaintiffs are precluded from bringing suit against the government and hold that they have a right of action under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 702; on the merits, the court concluded that § 215 of the PATRIOT Act, Pub. L. No. 107-56, section 215, does not authorize the telephone metadata collection program; the court did not address the constitutionality of the program; and the court declined to conclude that a preliminary injunction is required, leaving it to the district court to reconsider, in the first instance, the propriety of preliminary relief in light of a correct understanding of the governing law. Therefore, the district court erred in ruling that section 215 authorizes the telephone metadata collection program. The telephone metadata program exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized and therefore violates § 215. The court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "ACLU v. Clapper" on Justia Law