May 2009

Aiding and Abetting Prostitution?  Wa?! I'm an Internet Executive - I Sure Hope My Mom Doesn't Read That!

“We opened an investigation at 5:01 on Friday, as promised. . . . We are preparing for a prosecution. We are investigating. We are moving forward. . . . . The #1 defendant is Mr. Jim Buckmaster, who is the man in charge of Craigslist.. . . . Craigslist is a big promoter and facilitator of prostitution.”

South Carolina Attorney General, on Sunday, according to the Craigslist Blog.

Hmmm, this is the kind of thing that is protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, assuming that the South Carolina AG is referring to third party postings.  Somehow I doubt that Mr. Buckmaster has become a South Carolina pimp.

Apparently, law enforcement authorities in SC have been particularly aggressive in their comments about Craigslist. Why did Craigslist file this suit? The most obvious reason, from a semi-legal perspective, is to get into federal court in that state, rather than be subject to the whims of a state court judge that may not “get” the CDA.… Read the full article

All of the news articles I’m seeing about how aggressive the newly appointed antitrust enforcers may be puts me in a mind to reminisce.

When I graduated law school in 1979 I went off to what was then called Howrey & Simon, at that time the self-proclaimed antitrust heavyweight of D.C., and maybe the entire country. We certainly believed this to be true, and maybe it was. Back then there was no American Lawyer, and no one was really keeping score.

At Howrey it was all antitrust all the time. The firm was involved in massive trials in distant locations – a four month trial in Houston, requiring the rental of suites of condos and an entourage that would challenge a U.S. President and staffed like the U.S. army — was not uncommon; in fact, cases like that were taken for granted. And, according my “law of antitrust litigation” (which is: all antitrust cases must be tried twice, < appeal, > appeal), some of these trials were “seconds.… Read the full article

Cicilia Barnes’ choice in men was worthy of a Darwin Award. After she broke up with her boyfriend, he created fake personal ads for her on Yahoo and impersonated her on online forums. As the Ninth Circuit described it in Barnes v. Yahoo:

Barnes did not authorize her now former boyfriend to post the profiles, which is hardly surprising considering their content. The profiles contained nude photographs of Barnes and her boyfriend, taken without her knowledge, and some kind of open solicitation, whether express or implied is unclear, to engage in sexual intercourse. The ex-boyfriend then conducted discussions in Yahoo’s online “chat rooms,” posing as Barnes and directing male correspondents to the fraudulent profiles he had created. The profiles also included the addresses, real and electronic, and telephone number at Barnes’ place of employment. Before long, men whom Barnes did not know were peppering her office with emails, phone calls, and personal visits, all in the expectation of sex.

Read the full article

David Donatelli was an EMC Executive VP. He left EMC, and went to work for Hewlett Packard in California. EMC filed suit to enforce Donatelli’s one year non-compete agreement. Donatelli argued that the Massachusetts court should defer enforcement to California law, which is hostile to non-compete agreements.

Judge Stephen Neel, in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston, didn’t buy it. He held that California’s legislative policy against non-compete agreements does not trump Massachusetts common law, at least under the facts of this case.

Once he got past this major bump in the road, Judge Neel held that continued employment sufficed as consideration for a non-compete agreement (he also noted that the agreement recited that it had been signed “under seal,” magic words that favor enforceability in Massachusetts), held that the agreement was not overbroad, and issued the injunction.

Justice Neel did, however, hold a branch above the waters before Mr. Donatelli sank beneath the waves – he stated that Donatelli could move to modify the order if he could show that his job duties at at HP would not “overlap with products or services being developed, produced, marketed or sold by EMC.” However, since the entire purpose of Donatelli’s hire by HP (according to press at the time) was to head HP’s Enterprise Storage and Server Division, which would be competitive with EMC, it’s hard to see how Donatelli could both satisfy the judge and serve HP as intended.… Read the full article