Justifying Video Game Piracy – The Out-of-Print Defense

Posted By: Ryan Rempp

 

The video game emulator community argues that it is okay to download a video game if it is not in production and no longer in the primary market. Does that argument hold water, legally speaking?


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Yelp – The New Teflon Dons?

Posted By: Stephen Timmer

Yelp Defeats Legal Challenge to its User Review Filter.” It is a headline that we have all become accustomed to seeing; the scales of justice tipping in the favor of the 800-lb. gorilla of review sites. As a refresher, Yelp is one of the most recognized review sites on the Internet. Yelp professes itself as a source for consumers to locate local businesses, determine the quality of their services and to provide a forum for consumers to issue reviews on said businesses. James Demetriades, a manager of three restaurants in Mammoth Lakes, California, filed a lawsuit against Yelp; he claimed the site’s review filter was skewed towards displaying negative reviews of one of his restaurants and suppressing the positive reviews. While the case did not go in favor of Mr. Demetriades, it is important to understand how the California Superior Court in Los Angeles applied the law against him and how it was misapplied in this high-profile case. The rules of law cited in the case that could be crucial in holding Yelp liable in future litigation based upon different factual scenarios. Continue reading

The CDA – A Bulletproof Vest for Internet Service Providers?

Posted By: Stephen Timmer

Super Mario’s Pizzeria is celebrating two years in business! His business is in highly competitive area surrounded by other, established pizza places like Luigi’s Lovely Pizza Pies. Mario prides himself on customer satisfaction, whether patrons dine in or if they order take out through his mobile phone app (powered, ironically, by a video game company). He’s even snagged some prime catering gigs from businesses, like Sonic the hedge fund guy. Then one day a less than flattering review shows up on a review site for local businesses called “Holla!” under the name of “The Princess”. Holla, to protect anonymity of its users, allows them to use pseudonyms to protect against any reprisals and to elicit more candid comments. The Princess talks about how she got a fly in her Turtle Soup and how she sat at her table for twenty minutes before someone came over to take her order. Out of five stars she only gave Super Mario’s a half of a star. This review devastated both his dine in and his take out business. Mario has a pretty good memory and he never recalled anybody ever coming in and having an experience like that. Mario starts to think that Holla has made up the review and is favoring Luigi’s pizza joint, based on the lack of any negative reviews about his place. When Mario requests to Holla that they take that defamatory review down, they tell him to go stuff himself down a pipe. Knowing that the review has got to go, Mario decides to take Holla to court to compel them to take the review down. Unfortunately the court gave his case a game over when they told him that Holla cannot be held liable for the comments of its users, because they were not the one’s that posted it. Disheartened, Mario starts to consider a career in the plumbing business.

Unfortunately, a scenario with an infamous review site actually happened to a local service business in Seattle, where an anonymous review put dent in his business. Online service providers have been granted a seemingly bulletproof status thanks to legislation from Congress. While it has typically been a losing battle to challenge these providers in court over their content, recent developments in the United States Court of Appeals for Ninth Circuit  could give businesses an extra life against online providers and their users’ content. Unfortunately, this light at the end of the tunnel for merchants could prove to have dire constitutional consequences for the users of the online services. Continue reading

Can You Keep a Secret: Defending Trade Secrets in the Digital Age

Posted By: Stephen Timmer

 

Aha! You are a computer and software salesperson that has finally found the angle necessary to break through and win the business of the fastest and steadily growing law firm in the country. You are sitting in a coffee shop with free and unsecured wi-fi when this epiphany comes to you; deciding that you cannot wait until you get to your office to enter this information, you use and an app on your smartphone that links to client database at your office computer. As luck would have it, your unscrupulous rival from the other computer and software company happens to be in the coffee shop that day as well. Your competitor decides to hack into your phone, using the same unsecured wi-fi signal, to see what you have gotten so excited about. He makes his way to the app that connects to your computer database and finds the note about winning the business at the law firm. Being the opportunist that your competitor is, he sets up a meeting with the business manager of the firm, uses “your epiphany” to lock up the firm in an exclusive multi-year deal to purchase their computers and software from his company.

Sadly, the possibility of a scenario like this occurring is all too real. The ever-growing demand for information to be available and accessible is making the vulnerability of a company’s trade secrets a conundrum to be dealt with. In Allied Portables v. Youmans, a case that was heard in the Federal District Court of Middle District of Florida, a former employee gained access to the company’s business software from a home computer in an attempt to prevent the manager of business operations from using the software. Allied also accused the former employee of having unauthorized access to their customer list. As wireless technologies continue to proliferate, we can only expect situations like this to become more common for businesses to deal with. Businesses will be leaning even more on their legal representation for answers on how to deal with the demand for accessible information and the protection of their trade secrets; attorneys will need to ask themselves how much the law can do to help their business clients. Perhaps the solution lies in reimagining policies regarding technology use in the workplace in order to mitigate their chances of having trade secrets exposed. Continue reading