Internet Law

Google and the Global Takedown

by Lee Gesmer on July 21, 2017

“One country shouldn’t be able to decide what information people in other countries can access online”    

 David Price, senior product counsel at Google

A risk long anticipated by Internet law observers is that the courts might become more aggressive in regulating online behavior, not just in their own nation, but worldwide. Google, more than any company, has had a target on its back for this kind of case.

The obvious example would be a court in one nation ordering Google to takedown (“de-index”) search results for users worldwide. This is exactly what happened in the Canadian Supreme Court’s decision in Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions Inc. (June 28, 2017). This case represents the first time the highest court in a country has ordered a search engine to de-index worldwide in the context of a purely commercial two-party dispute. And, as we shall see below, this is a crucial issue for Google – one that it will not concede without a fight.… Read the full article

California "Yelp" Bill, Guarantees Right to Post (Non-Defamatory) Reviews

Imagine this.

You go to a new dentist and, before she will take you as a patient she requires you to sign an agreement that you won’t post negative reviews of her on the Internet. You go to book a wedding reception at a restaurant and before they will book your reception they ask you to sign a similar document. Even worse, you must agree that if you do post a negative review, you will owe the restaurant a $500 fine.

The Internet has been full of stories of this sort, but now one state — California — has put a stop to it. And, as is sometimes said when it comes to new laws, as California goes, so goes the country.

A bill signed into law in California on September 9, 2014, popularly referred to as the “Yelp” bill, prohibits the use of “non-disparagement” clauses in consumer contracts. The law takes effect on January 1, 2015. Read the full article

I guess the owners of the Grand Resort Hotel in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee have never heard of the Streisland Effect.  Their attempt to sue Trip Advisor for defamation based on the hotel’s inclusion in Trip Advisor’s annual “Dirtiest Hotels” list was dismissed by the federal district court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.  While facts can be defamatory, opinions can not. The court concluded that no “reasonable person could believe that TripAdvisor’s article reflected anything more than the opinions of TripAdvisor’s millions of online users.”

Professor Eric Goldman discusses this case in more detail here.

Seaton v. TripAdvisor, LLCRead the full article

Creative Commons Celebrates Its Sixth Anniversary

by Lee Gesmer on December 20, 2008

Creative Commons Celebrates Its Sixth Anniversary

My partners Andy Updegrove, Peter Moldave and I attended this celebration of the sixth anniversary of Creative Commons at Harvard the evening of Friday, December 13, 2008. We could have waited a few days and watched the event on YouTube, but then we would have missed the cold weather, the greatest ice storm in modern Massachusetts history, the difficult parking and, well ….

It was actually a great deal of fun, and looking around the room at the 150 or so people that attended there appeared to be relatively few lawyers, a fact that made us feel superior, as if we were really part of the Harvard cognoscenti, which of course we aren’t. (How could we tell there weren’t many lawyers there? – the number of people who had that useless, predatory look common to lawyers was minimal.)

Speakers were: Jonathan Zittrain, moderator, panelists James Boyle, Lawrence Lessig and Molly S.Read the full article