Articles Posted in Internet Law

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The court affirmed the approval of a class action settlement and grant of attorneys' fees and service awards in a suit alleging that Symantec failed to disclose that consumers could use various free alternatives to re-download their Norton anti-virus software. The district court did not abuse its discretion by approving the settlement without knowing the final administrative costs or the final amount received by the class; in awarding the requested fees where the circumstances of this case justified a large award, and the reasonableness of the award was cross-checked against the lodestar method; in approving the terms of the settlement agreement providing that any minimal remaining funds would be distributed to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as an appropriate cy pres recipient; and in awarding service awards to each of the named plaintiffs. View "Caligiuri v. Symantec Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, individually and purportedly on behalf of others similarly situated, filed suit against GameStop for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, money had and received, and violation of Minnesota’s Consumer Fraud Act (CFA), Minn. Stat. 325F.68, et seq. Plaintiff alleged that GameStop's disclosure of personally identifiable information (PII) to a third party (Facebook) violated an express agreement not to do so. The district court granted GameStop's motion to dismiss based on plaintiff's lack of standing. The court concluded that plaintiff provided sufficient facts alleging that he is party to a binding contract with GameStop, and GameStop does not dispute this contractual relationship; GameStop has violated that policy; and plaintiff has suffered damages as a result of GameStop's breach. The court also concluded that plaintiff has standing to bring his breach-of-contract claim and to bring his other claims. The court concluded, however, that the privacy policy unambiguously does not include those pieces of information among the protected PII. Therefore, the protection plaintiff argues GameStop failed to provide was not among the protections for which he bargained by agreeing to the terms of service, and GameStop thus could not have breached its contract with plaintiff. Plaintiff's Minnesota CFA claims fail for similar reasons. Finally, plaintiff has not alleged a claim for unjust enrichment or the related claim of money had and received. View "Carlsen v. GameStop, Inc." on Justia Law

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American Century, a mutual fund, offers investment portfolios, including Ultra Fund. Ultra Fund invested in PartyGaming, a Gibraltar company that facilitated internet gambling. In 2005, PartyGaming made an initial public offering of its stock, which was listed on the London Stock Exchange. In its prospectus, PartyGaming noted that the legality of online gaming was uncertain in several countries, including the U.S.; 87 percent of its revenue came from U.S. customers. PartyGaming acknowledged that “action by US authorities … prohibiting or restricting PartyGaming from offering online gaming in the US . . . could result in investors losing all or a very substantial part of their investment.” Ultra Fund purchased shares in PartyGaming totaling over $81 million. In 2006, following increased government enforcement against illegal internet gambling, the stock price dropped. Ultra Fund divested itself of PartyGaming, losing $16 million. Seidl, a shareholder, claimed negligence, waste, and breach of fiduciary duty against American Century. The company refused her demand to bring an action. Seidl brought a shareholder’s derivative action. The Eighth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the defendants, concluding that Seidl could not bring suit where the company had declined to do so in a valid exercise of business judgment. The litigation committee adopted a reasonable methodology in conducting its investigation and reaching its conclusion. View "Seidl v. Am. Century Co., Inc" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff alleged that NCS conducted a spam e-mail campaign that harmed his business, in violation of Iowa and federal law. After a bench trial, the district court entered judgment in favor of NCS and dismissed plaintiff's claims. The district court heard from plaintiff and NCS's principals in a bench trial and it found NCS's principals more credible than plaintiff. The court concluded that the evidence cited by plaintiff did not establish a clear error in the district court's determination. The court also concluded that the district court did not err by concluding that a salesman was an independent contractor rather than an employee of NCS. The court rejected plaintiff's contention that an employment relationship made NCS responsible for any e-mail activity by the salesman. The primary consideration was the hiring party's control over the means of performance and the court agreed with the district court that the weight of the evidence taken as a whole established an independent contractor agreement. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Kramer, III v. National Credit System" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from a dispute between several recording companies and defendant. Defendant willfully infringed copyrights of 24 sound recordings by engaging in file-sharing on the Internet. On appeal, the companies appealed the remedy ordered by the district court. The court concluded that the recording companies were entitled to the remedies they sought: damages of $222,000 and a broadened injunction that forbid defendant to make available sound recordings for distribution. But because the verdicts returned by the second and third juries were sufficient to justify these remedies, it was unnecessary for the court to consider the merits of the district court's order granting a new trial after the first verdict. View "Capitol Records, Inc., et al v. Thomas-Rasset" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sued defendant over the sale of an automated hunting and fishing licensing system, alleging that defendant misrepresented the capabilities and costs of its software system, as well as information about key programming personnel. Both parties appealed the judgment of the district court, which awarded plaintiffs $965,000 and designated its post-trial order as a final judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b). The court held that, due to the close factual and legal relationship between the fraud, warranty, and good faith and fair dealing claims, Rule 54(b) certification was inappropriate where plaintiffs' unadjudicated claims shared the same facts as the certified claims and where, under Missouri law, fraud and breach of warranty claims shared similar elements and the same conduct could support both theories. The court also held that the district court correctly dismissed defendant's cross-claim against Active Network, Inc. (Active Network) and its assessment of the equities was not clearly unreasonable. Accordingly, the court held that the district court properly certified its order dismissing the cross-claim against Active Network. As there was no final judgment on all claims or a proper 54(b) certification as to the claims between plaintiffs and defendant, the remainder of the appeals were dismissed without prejudice, and the case remanded for further proceedings.