Welcome to Legal Musings where I try to blog about something going on in the legal world. Often the topic will include writing, copyright..etc. Sometimes it won’t.
There’s an interesting case where a guy named Parker sued Google. Parker lost at the federal district court level, and the Third Circuit Appellate Court affirmed. Here’s the complete cite: Parker v Google, Inc., 242 Fed.App, 833 (CA3 2007). Also, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, so this is the end for it.
Basically, Parker wrote the book, 29 reasons To Not Be a Nice Guy. Somebody posted #6 on one of Google’s global system of online bulletin boards. (The archive contains more than 845 million messages). So, Parker sued Google for this, also claiming that Google provided users with links to websites that portrayed him negatively when users utilized Google’s Internet search engine.
The court held in favor of Google, “Parker’s allegations failed to assert any volitional conduct on the part of Google.” Parker at 837. Basically, since Google didn’t post the item, it was shielded from liability for the copyright infringement. In fact, the court compared Google to a company providing copiers for use (and cited the Fourth Circuit.) “A copy machine owner who makes the machine available to the public to use for copying is not, without more, strictly liable under [the Copyright Act] for illegal copying by a customer.” 373 F.3d at 550.
So, Parker’s second cause of action was for vicarious liability…meaning that Google was liable because it allowed the posting. Parker lost because “he failed to allege that Google had the requisite knowledge of a third-party’s infringing activity.” Parker at 838.
So this opens up the question…what if Google had known? That type of case has to be coming down the pipeline, and when I find it, I’ll post all about it.
Parker also got his butt kicked on his claims for invasion of privacy, defamation and negligence because Google has immunity under the Communications Decency Act (CDA). The CDA is a federal law I’ll dig into sometime in the future. (Some of it has been struck down). Not today. For today, just know that the CDA shields companies like Google if all the requirements are met.
Also, the court declined to award attorney fees to Google (often they’re awarded to the winner) because the internet is new law and nobody quite knows the answers regarding it yet.
Today, I’m at the RT Booklovers Convention in LA. If you’re around, stop by. Here’s the website: RT Booklovers Convention.
CYA Disclaimer: This is not legal advice. You’re a moron if you take this as legal advice. If you need legal advice, find a lawyer. Yes, I’m a lawyer. But I’m not your lawyer. I’m providing my analysis of interesting stuff on the internet. I am not representing you or giving you legal advice. As much as I’d like to. 🙂