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Internet Law Twists & Turns

Internet Law Twists & Turns

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Can Internet mischief be caught?

Mark Sableman August 23, 2022
internet mischief

In addition to being the world’s greatest communications medium, the Internet is one of the most effective conduits for fraud, illegality, and other mischief. Moreover, perpetrators, and the general public, tend to think that this kind of misconduct is uncatchable. READ MORE

FTC warns of penalties for false endorsements

Mark Sableman November 30, 2021
A smart phone taking a picture of food

As social media has been “blurring the lines,” the Federal Trade Commission decided to make one thing starkly clear: false endorsements, even through well-meaning consumer testimonials, are illegal. READ MORE

Disinformation report suggests major legal reforms

Mark Sableman November 22, 2021

We’re suffering from “information disorder,” according to a report recently issued through the Aspen Institute. That’s not news. But how to solve this problem is the big issue, and the commission’s answer is that it will require substantial legal changes, as well as action by platforms, professionals, and academics. READ MORE

Lessons from a long-ago deepfakes prosecution

Mark Sableman June 3, 2021
business man wearing a mask

What can a 150-year-old lawsuit over trick photography teach us about how the courts will determine liability for deepfakes, the video technology that creates disturbingly real-looking fake videos? This history lesson has real life impacts for today’s content-creators. READ MORE

Use of fake identities found deceitful in commercial email — why not elsewhere on the Internet?

Mark Sableman December 31, 2020
People covering their face with masks

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently had to decide a sensitive and difficult issue: Can you use a false identity to deceive someone when you are selling something by email? After careful deliberation, the court held that under the federal CAN-SPAM Act, such conduct was both criminal and deceitful. READ MORE

Amazon and U.S. IPR Center announce “Operation Fulfilled Action”

warehouse interior with stacked boxes

The U.S. government’s IPR Center and Amazon have announced a joint effort to address counterfeit goods entering the U.S. The operation will analyze data and conduct targeted inspections aimed at preventing counterfeit products from entering the U.S. supply chain. READ MORE

Muting Misinformation: Resources for identifying and dealing with misinformation

Mark Sableman September 8, 2020
Illustration of a figure with a TV head speaking through a megaphone, and someone changing the channel

We may be on our own in the world of internet misinformation, but an expert industry is developing about how to spot it and how to better understand the strange world of information on the internet. READ MORE

Muting Misinformation: Only you can prevent the spread of political untruths

Mark Sableman August 31, 2020
Illustration of a figure with a TV head speaking through a megaphone, and someone changing the channel

Political misinformation on the Internet is likely to continue, and our previous posts on laws, business practices and reforms have made it apparent that it is up to you, the Web User, to navigate truth and falsity on your own. READ MORE

Muting Misinformation: Can Congress legislate a solution?

Mark Sableman August 24, 2020
Illustration of a figure with a TV head speaking through a megaphone, and someone changing the channel

In Part 3 of our series on political misinformation, we explore if new Internet legislation passed by governments could be used to prevent the spread of misinformation. READ MORE

Muting Misinformation: What’s the role of social media companies?

Mark Sableman August 17, 2020
Illustration of a figure with a TV head speaking through a megaphone, and someone changing the channel

In Part 2 of our series on political misinformation, we explore if social media companies can be relied upon to vet and clean up their content during the 2020 political campaign. READ MORE

Muting Misinformation: Can we sue to stop misleading political speech?

Mark Sableman August 10, 2020
Illustration of a figure with a TV head speaking through a megaphone, and someone changing the channel

As we enter the 2020 election season, Americans are likely to be flooded with misinformation and disinformation, particularly on social media. How do we deal with this problem? In Part 1 of our series on misinformation, we examine if legal claims can be used to address the spread of false election-related information through social media. READ MORE

DOJ Section 230 report unintentionally highlights dangers of internet heckler’s vetoes

Mark Sableman July 10, 2020
Illustration of small person with megaphone talking to large person

The report of Attorney General William Barr’s Department of Justice on Section 230, our basic Internet law, acknowledges a key need for Section 230, even while it recommends beginning to dismantle it, brick-by-brick. READ MORE

Blogs and other short online works now easier to register for copyrights

Justin Mulligan June 25, 2020
finger typing on keyboard

Starting August 17, writers of blogs and other short online works will be able to register up to fifty copyrightable works with a single application and a standard fee. READ MORE

COVID-19 crisis news environment found full of contradictions and concerns

Mark Sableman June 23, 2020
Illustration of people holding devices featuring COVID-19 headlines

In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, a recent report addresses how we receive and understand news and information. READ MORE

Executive order targeting social media companies unlikely to change foundational internet law

Mark Sableman May 29, 2020
Illustration of a smartphone using social media

Don’t count on President Trump’s executive order overturning or significantly restricting the statute that has governed internet freedom in the United States for the last 24 years. READ MORE

You may avoid coronavirus contacts, but you can’t avoid online contracts

Mark Sableman May 14, 2020
An illustration of someone signing an online contract

While people have moved their activities online to avoid coronavirus contacts, we can be pretty sure they aren’t avoiding coronavirus-era contracts. A lot of online activity involves automatically created contracts, and recent court rulings have facilitated the creation of binding online agreements. READ MORE

InfoWars takedown over coronavirus misinformation illustrates value of Internet oversight

Mark Sableman April 6, 2020
Illustration of a man disinfecting a fake news article about a virus

Google’s recent removal of Alex Jones’ InfoWars from its Google Play service, because of false and misleading information it had been transmitting about the coronavirus, isn’t an aberration. That kind of oversight is encouraged by a key Internet law, section 230, that is now under attack from various fronts. READ MORE

Meeting disinformation with media literacy in 2020: A Q&A with Julie Smith

Mark Sableman January 15, 2020
Cubes displaying fake or fact

As the 2020 presidential campaign ramps up, so does the threat of disinformation on the internet. Julie Smith, professor of media literacy at Webster University, has provided insight on how ordinary news consumers can fight misinformation. READ MORE

When politi-fact veers into politi-fiction, broadcast and internet advertising rules diverge sharply

Mark Sableman November 26, 2019
Illustration of television ad

The legal duties of publishers, broadcasters and social media companies to vet political advertisements duties vary according to the medium involved. In particular, broadcasting and the internet—the two most popular media for political ads—are subject to quite different legal standards. READ MORE

With Illinois Supreme Court ruling, tech crimes meet constitutional arguments

Mark Sableman October 28, 2019
Illustration of man prying open a lock containing a cloud

In a case addressing the constitutionality of an Illinois statute covering intentional non-consensual dissemination of private sexual images, the state Supreme Court has shed light on how technology-based crimes may be addressed and litigated in an era where courts have little experience in addressing this type of crime. READ MORE

Bumble stumbles: State policy interests override dating app’s contractual forum

Mark Sableman July 30, 2019
Illustration of a hand holding a smartphone with an open dating app

While most e-commerce providers specify a choice of venue for lawsuits in their customer agreements, certain situations take precedent. In a recent case involving the dating app Bumble, state interests in protecting its residents may override these agreed-up dispute forums. READ MORE

Concerns about misinformation could lead to limits on key media freedoms

Mark Sableman June 26, 2019
Illustration of large hand reaching out from phone to halt a user

The ability to publish almost anything on the internet without censorship is increasingly facing scrutiny from important voices, with some suggesting it may be time to change the law. Internet intermediaries must now strike a balance between censorship and publishing rights to avoid tipping two far in either direction. READ MORE

Media literacy in a time of misinformation: A Q&A with Don Corrigan

Mark Sableman January 11, 2019
Cubes displaying fake or fact

“Misinformation” was named the word of the year for 2018, and it’s clear we’ve entered a media world where separating truth from falsity can be difficult. Don Corrigan, professor of journalism at Webster University, has provided insight on how ordinary news consumers can fight misinformation. READ MORE

Why we permit fake identities, even for Russian disinformation campaigns

Mark Sableman December 19, 2018
People covering their face with masks

The Senate report on Russia’s disinformation campaign does not challenge using fake identities on the internet to spread information, due in part to U.S. courts affirming the rights to online anonymous speech - even if it spreads anger and misinformation. READ MORE

Too hyperbolic to be believed: How social media is transforming libel law

Mark Sableman October 23, 2018
Illustration of angry social media

The Stormy Daniels versus President Trump case has clearly changed how we think about facts and truth. The trial court’s analysis, including examining the President’s social media use, has broadened the scope of what is considered opinion in today’s libel cases. READ MORE

Are campaigns running on infringement?

Mark Sableman August 29, 2018
Illustration of voters submitting ballots

As we move further into a political season, candidates will inevitably use copyrighted materials without authorization — a practice used by most campaigns in the recent past. READ MORE

Can social media posts be tortious or criminal?

Mark Sableman August 27, 2018
Illustration of man yelling from phone

Drawing the line between protected speech and unprotected action is one of the oldest issues under the First Amendment. Recent cases involving social media postings are bringing the issue into the 21st century. READ MORE

European Court teaches Internet copyright 101

Mark Sableman August 23, 2018
Keyboard with EU flag overlaid on key

In a free-ranging decision, the ECJ explains when Internet content can be used, whether it needs to be technically blocked, and when one can hyperlink to it. READ MORE

Are headline and title writers getting too cocky about their IP rights?

Mark Sableman July 27, 2018
group of brightly colored book covers

Websites and publishers are chasing the perfectly crafted headline that you can’t help but click, share or buy. So inevitably, the question comes up: Can you protect your headline or title as intellectual property? READ MORE

When is a revision of an Internet post treated as a new post?

Mark Sableman May 23, 2018
social media notifications on computer screen

The limited time for suing for libel on an Internet post runs not only from the original posting, but also from when significant changes were made to the post, according to a decision from the New Jersey Supreme Court. READ MORE

New Internet frontier: You can defame through your WiFi name

Mark Sableman May 9, 2018

Defamation by tweet isn’t news anymore, but surely a new barrier was broken when the Idaho Supreme Court found potential defamation in the name a family gave to their home wireless network. READ MORE

WHOIS data still headed off the GDPR cliff

Mark Sableman April 26, 2018

Despite efforts of the international domain name authority to save the WHOIS database, it still appears likely to black out after GDPR becomes effective. And the blackout could herald other changes for this often-used and essential database, including toll gates. READ MORE

WHOIS that infringer, and how do I find him after GDPR?

Mark Sableman April 2, 2018

When a website infringed your trademark or copyright, or otherwise violated your rights, the first place you likely went was to the WHOIS database, to find out who owned and operated that website. That database has been a great tool for intellectual property owners, and others who have fought misuse of their rights on the Internet. But many parts of the WHOIS database are likely to slip out of public view. READ MORE

Studies discuss difficulty of combatting disinformation

women gossip whispering secrets

The rise of disinformation ("fake news") is a social phenomenon affecting millions, if not billions, of people who use the internet. How do we weed out the misleading or inaccurate reports? The solution will be more complicated than we thought. READ MORE

Moving beyond Title II: The net neutrality battle returns to Congress

January 8, 2018
Capitol at night

As Congress debates and advances net neutrality in the coming months, Title I will likely be the section where basic net neutrality protections are enshrined. READ MORE

‘Secret’ keys to effective legal demands and responses

Mark Sableman January 3, 2018
Twists_default blog

Internet disputes are often resolved through correspondence. But effective dispute-resolving correspondence often differs from what most people think of as “cease-and-desist letters." READ MORE

FTC: Even implied messages need explicit disclosures

Mark Sableman October 26, 2017
Twists_default blog

The FTC adapted its endorsement rule to social media in 2009. But several issues continue to puzzle many people. First, what kinds of posts are viewed as endorsements? Second, what circumstances short of direct payments require disclosures? Finally, how can the circumstances of endorsements be disclosed in the limited space of social media? READ MORE

Study highlights prevalence of counterfeit and fraudulent goods online

Mark Sableman July 19, 2017

The MarkMonitor study shows that significant percentages of ordinary Internet users are simply too trusting of what they find online. READ MORE

Who reads privacy policies?

Mark Sableman May 31, 2017

It’s not just consumers who aren’t reading the privacy policies. The companies who write and post them need to ensure that they read, understand, and comply with their own policies. READ MORE

News aggregators – Link, don’t replace, your sources

Mark Sableman May 17, 2017

At first blush, aggregation may seem illegitimate or infringing, as the aggregator benefits from the sweat of others’ news gathering and writing. But there is a twist to aggregation on the web. READ MORE

Libel by tweet. #Beware.

Mark Sableman May 10, 2017
Twitter hashtag

Can we provide details on a high-profile Twitter-related libel suit in 140 characters or less? READ MORE

Mobile targeting: A ‘secret weapon’ for good or ill?

Mark Sableman April 26, 2017

This case shows that where highly personal health care matters are involved, targeting can be seen as invading the recipients’ privacy. READ MORE

Keyword ads — Only infringing if they’re confusing

Mark Sableman March 22, 2017

Trademark owners wondering about the law on keyword ads may want to shortcut review of the long and winding path of U.S. law on this subject. READ MORE

Digital assets creates new complications for estate planning

February 24, 2017
Digital asset

Having wills, trusts and powers of attorney that grant a fiduciary permission to access digital assets (or deny access to certain of them, if that is what a person prefers) is important in the world in which we now live. READ MORE

Trump libel win based on Trump libel loss

Mark Sableman January 17, 2017

The decision in Jacobus v Trump could also be seen to signal a new social acceptance of an increasingly intemperate, belittling and demeaning political dialog. READ MORE

Copyright Office changes procedures for DMCA agent designations


Operators of websites that allow — or may allow in the future — user postings of any kind should take care to electronically register their DMCA agent, and institute proper reminder procedures so that they process the required renewal filings in the future. READ MORE

Securing assent: The Internet twist of electronic contracts

Mark Sableman October 11, 2016
Illustration of a contract being extended from a computer screen

Even the age-old law of contracts has been altered by the Internet. The big Internet twist for contract-making is assent: If you are doing business on the Internet, take care to obtain clear assent from the parties with whom you are dealing, and preserve good evidence of that assent. READ MORE

FTC sets new standard for mobile app location tracking – indirectly

Mark Sableman September 14, 2016
illustration of a mobile app displaying geolocation

A recent FTC complaint indirectly lays out important new national standards for how geolocation information may be collected from mobile devices. READ MORE

Political campaigns face copyright and robocall liabilities

Mark Sableman July 26, 2016

Copyright compliance seems to be a particular bugaboo in the political field. Practically every election year, candidates are accused of infringing music and other copyrights. READ MORE

Do you have privacy rights on social media?

Mark Sableman July 12, 2016

Your activities in an isolated, fenced, and tree-shielded home create a stronger expectation of privacy than your activities in a high-rise apartment with the curtains open. Social media privacy cases simply apply that long-standing “reasonable expectation of privacy” principle to Internet situations. READ MORE

Trade secrets law in the Internet age

Mark Sableman July 1, 2016
Cybersecurity_default blog

If a trade secret leaves your building in papers in the briefcase of a renegade employee, you may be able to recover the papers and reestablish the confidentiality of the trade secret. But if it is posted on the Internet, it will likely be copied, recopied, and distributed to so many people that full recovery won't be possible. READ MORE

Is everyone’s website illegal?

Mark Sableman May 5, 2016

Companies that are potential targets of ADA claims should examine their website accessibility, and take steps to ensure that services they offer through their websites are also available to the disabled, even if through different means. READ MORE

Electronic marketing’s Internet twist: Use e-mail, not faxes or texts

Mark Sableman March 14, 2016

The penalties and enforcement methods of the TCPA are the real problem for marketers. Each improper fax, to each recipient, carries a minimum $500 civil penalty. And the TCPA is enforceable by private attorneys, who usually bring their claims as class actions. A single mistaken fax to thousands of recipients can lead to millions in liability. READ MORE

Rapper rumble leads to legal rumble over use of tweet

Mark Sableman February 8, 2016

The big takeaway from this case, as from other Twitter libel cases, is that even those tiny 140-character-limited messages known as tweets can lead to full-fledged litigation, subject to the same full and painstaking linguistic and legal scrutiny as any other case. READ MORE

Is the Internet expanding privacy expectations?

Mark Sableman January 22, 2016

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, our expectations of privacy are not steadily and uniformly shrinking. In some cases, they are expanding. READ MORE

Will the Zippo sliding scale for Internet jurisdiction slide into oblivion?

Mark Sableman January 12, 2016
Twists_default blog

In legal terms, where does jurisdiction lie for an Internet dispute? Many answers have been given over the last 20 years, and some of the weaker, less helpful answers are only slowly being supplanted by more reliable and realistic legal tests. As a recent decision illustrates, particularly in cases of Internet defamation, courts are abandoning some early simplistic precedents. READ MORE

Experts make privacy regulation a serious threat

Mark Sableman December 7, 2015

Though government regulators are often far behind on the technology curve, real experts have taken over at several important agencies that regulate conduct on the Internet. READ MORE

FTC eyes endorsements: #ILoveThisProduct!

Jennifer Visintine September 22, 2015

Generally, the FTC prohibits unfair and deceptive acts or practices. When it comes to endorsements of products or services — whether by celebrities or others — the FTC’s endorsement guidelines and FAQs explain some types of activities that might be considered deceptive, and how to handle different situations. READ MORE

Can you be sued for posting your opinions on the Internet?

Mark Sableman September 8, 2015

Most efforts to prevent or penalize Internet comments and criticism are crushed in the court of public opinion even before they reach the courthouse. READ MORE

The changing faces of facial recognition

Mark Sableman August 11, 2015

Like other new digital technologies, facial recognition will soon develop robust commercial applications. And the privacy implications of those applications could raise serious concerns, and difficult policy choices. READ MORE

Duke of Brunswick rule strikes out for Internet lawsuits

Mark Sableman July 30, 2015

Courts throughout the English-speaking world have repeatedly grappled with this issue — not because it is really that difficult, but because of a 166-year-old British court decision. READ MORE

Web trademarks: It's not the words, it's the action

Mark Sableman July 1, 2015
Twists_default blog

The PLAYDOM case involves a federal trademark registration but it provides lessons for those seeking common law protection as well. READ MORE

The evolving story of cameras in court

Mark Sableman June 12, 2015

By a twist of the Internet age, one of the most frequently voiced objections to television coverage of courts — that it will be selective and misleading — isn’t as persuasive as it may once have been. We can expect that the entirety of Supreme Court arguments will be available on the Internet, if and when the court allows video coverage, just as interested parties can hear the entire audio transcripts now on the Oyez Project website. READ MORE

Data privacy: From Arthur Miller to Edward Snowden

Mark Sableman June 5, 2015

Where did this crazy issue of data privacy come from? And what policies and practices are likely in store as our governments and businesses grapple with all of the new data privacy concerns of the digital age? READ MORE

Busting the top privacy myths

Mark Sableman February 26, 2015

Those who think that privacy is dead these days might want to drop by the Walter Washington Convention Center in early March, for the International Association of Privacy Professionals’ Global Privacy Summit in Washington, D.C. READ MORE

An inside look at how Spain’s copyright law targets Google and other news aggregators

Mark Sableman February 9, 2015
Twists_default blog

I recently communicated with Professor Miquel Peguera, an Internet law expert at the Open University of Catalonia in Barcelona. He writes a blog on ISP Law, co-edits the Journal of Intellectual Property, Information Technology and E-Commerce Law, and has been a visiting scholar at Columbia University. He graciously shared some helpful observations about the new Spanish law. READ MORE

Missed Davos? Catch up online with the forum’s top Internet issues

Mark Sableman January 21, 2015

The “future of the Internet” is one of the 10 global challenges that Davos is examining in 2015, and the forum’s organizers have posted online a lot of interesting materials on this topic. READ MORE

Top five shifts in Internet law in 2014

Mark Sableman December 29, 2014

Here’s my impressionistic list of five of the most significant 2014 shifts affecting businesses that operate in the Internet space. READ MORE

Certifying privacy compliance: Is TRUSTe sufficiently trusty?

Mark Sableman November 26, 2014

TRUSTe’s recent settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, and its admission that it didn’t always carry out annual recertifications of its clients, illustrates, to some extent, how tough it is to find hard-and-fast assurances in the privacy world. READ MORE

The big data security risks of little things

Mark Sableman November 12, 2014

Call it what you will — Internet of Things (IoT), machine-to-machine communications (M2M), or the Intelligent Internet — it is increasingly affecting our lives. READ MORE

What are you giving up when you click a click-through contract?

Mark Sableman October 28, 2014

How effective are those ubiquitous but rarely read terms of use? The question is important, since website and mobile app terms of service frequently include many crucial provisions. READ MORE

New copyright compendium provides some answers for website owners

Mark Sableman September 8, 2014
Twists_default blog

The manual, which focuses on issues that the copyright office handles in the course of processing applications for copyright registrations, is helpful on some Internet-related copyright concerns. READ MORE

Copyright and performance rights in an online video world

Mark Sableman August 27, 2014

A copyrighted work must be fixed in a tangible medium of expression, and live performances are dynamic and ephemeral, not fixed. READ MORE

Duke, Hershey, and Winston: Who gets to trademark a famous name?

Mark Sableman August 5, 2014

Common sense tells you that you can always use your own name. But under trademark law, that’s not always true. Three recent cases illustrate this conundrum, which plays a major role in many Internet marketing and domain name disputes. READ MORE

Who owns your domain names?

Mark Sableman July 21, 2014

You don’t physically possess a domain name, as you possess tangible personal property, like artworks and collectibles. You don’t get a government title, as with a vehicle, or record your rights in a government office, as with real estate. There are no fancy certificates for your safe deposit box, as there are (or at least used to be) with traditional intangible personal property like stocks and bonds. READ MORE

Seventh Circuit says Sherlock Holmes is still copyright-free

Mark Sableman June 24, 2014
Twists_default blog

The decision includes a strong warning that extending copyright protection as requested by the Doyle estate would be a “two-edged sword,” because it would reduce the incentive of subsequent authors to create derivative works, increase the costs of new authorship, and incentivize successful authors to extend old characters rather than create stories with entirely new characters. READ MORE

Redskins trademark case highlights value of linguistic analysis

Mark Sableman June 20, 2014

We’re increasingly seeing linguists assist with the language and communication-based legal disputes of the information age. In fields like advertising, trademarks, and even business communications, linguistic analysis has often proven helpful, or even decisive. READ MORE

In Google Spain ‘right to be forgotten’ case, EU court looks critically at free expression defense

Mark Sableman June 6, 2014

It wasn’t surprising that the European Union’s highest court enforced the European Union’s right to be forgotten. What was surprising, however, was that controversial right was enforced against Google — contrary to the recommendation of the court’s advocate general, and contrary to the expectations of most informed observers. READ MORE

Court upholds citizen surveillance of police activity

Mark Sableman May 30, 2014

Some surveillance can affirm and support individual interests in personal liberty. For example, a recent case holds that citizens have a well-established presumptive right to videotape police conduct in public. READ MORE

Journalism still struggling with an Internet that never forgets

Mark Sableman May 7, 2014

Continued publication of old information, particularly as to private persons, raises some ethical concerns. READ MORE

Balancing the data privacy debate: The benefits of big (and little) data

Mark Sableman April 11, 2014

Privacy advocates like the Center for Democracy and Technology have so far effectively won the agenda-setting contest on privacy, and the so-called Big Data industry is on the defensive. The data privacy policy discussion, however, needs to hear more from data use advocates. Theirs is an essential and largely neglected voice in policy debate on this important issue. READ MORE

Court strikes down Illinois eavesdropping act, opens debate on privacy in the digital age

Mark Sableman March 24, 2014
Twists_default blog

The two cases addressed by the Illinois court highlighted a major problem with strict-liability two-party consent eavesdropping laws — they criminalize citizen recordings of their interactions with police and other government officials. READ MORE

The newest mobile privacy issue: Tracking shoppers’ footsteps in stores

Mark Sableman March 6, 2014

As a modern American, you are carrying a smart phone that is constantly broadcasting its presence and the unique persistent identifier (MAC address) by which it is known, to the wireless world. You are broadcasting, and, in many cases, the stores are listening. READ MORE

Courtney Love, Yelp and Internet libel: Nevermind, it’s not a trend

Mark Sableman February 24, 2014

With the Internet, far more communications are published than ever before. And yet the rate of libel suits — claims for damage based on disparaging communications — is much lower than before the Internet. More communications, fewer disparagement claims. It seems counterintuitive. READ MORE

Sherlock Holmes and the case of the split copyright personality

Mark Sableman January 28, 2014

In the eyes of the law, Sherlock Holmes resides not so much on Baker Street as in two different copyright worlds. Four novels and 46 short stories are currently in the public domain. But 10 short stories are still under copyright protection. So what does that make Sherlock? READ MORE

Whitepaper roundup: Privacy, copyright, and digital advertising

Mark Sableman January 10, 2014
Twists_default blog

For those interested in Internet law and policy issues, there are plenty of other official reports that you can use as primers and starting points for further research. READ MORE

California says you can track online, but you can't hide your tracking

Jennifer Visintine December 20, 2013

California law will soon require website and mobile app operators to disclose additional information in their privacy policies. READ MORE

The U.S. data privacy debate, in a nutshell

Mark Sableman December 19, 2013
Twists_default blog

Do you want a comprehensive overview of the data privacy debate in the United States? Well, the Government Accountability Office has written one. READ MORE

FTC says app developers must shine more light on how they use data

Mark Sableman December 12, 2013

Our law generally expects that when private information is collected, users should be given notice of the collection, and a choice about whether to allow it. READ MORE

Safe Harbor after Snowden: What are the EU’s biggest pain points on data privacy?

Mark Sableman December 5, 2013
Twists_default blog

Unfortunately for U.S. and international businesses, the headline-making Snowden revelations are affecting international data transfers, which in many cases are crucial to business operations READ MORE

Privacy in social media – is it really an oxymoron?

Mark Sableman November 25, 2013

At least in U.S. privacy law, the key issue for determining whether one has a privacy right is whether there was a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in the circumstances. READ MORE

Attention Internet publishers: Linking limits libel liability

Mark Sableman November 20, 2013
Twists_default blog

When the Internet was young, and the thrills of hypertext linking were still new, hyperlinks were viewed as a potential source of liability. READ MORE

What’s the future of free speech protections for advertisements?

Mark Sableman November 8, 2013

Even as advertising starts to look more like journalism, there’s one thing that ads certainly share with news content: First Amendment protection. READ MORE

Blogging, native advertising, and the new world of regulating internet advertising

Mark Sableman October 25, 2013
Twists_default blog

Amid the exploding content of the Internet era, it turns out we need a special rule for that most basic question: What is advertising or promotion? READ MORE

Free speech on Facebook: You can ‘like’ but you can't threaten

Mark Sableman September 26, 2013

Facebook communications have become the newest testing ground for free speech. And the results, at least from two recent and notable cases, affirm the unusual and perhaps counterintuitive way that U.S law looks at a key threshold question: What is speech? READ MORE

Ads made for me: How do consumers really feel about targeted online ads?

Mark Sableman September 13, 2013

Contrary to popular belief, companies don’t want to bombard consumers with loud, obnoxious ads (save for, perhaps, the remarkably noisy front page of the Baltimore Sun’s website leading up to Labor Day.) Such abrasive advertisements tend to push consumers away. READ MORE

‘Keep Out’ signs can override open Internet culture

Mark Sableman August 27, 2013

The Internet gives every appearance of being wide-open, public, available to all. You can email anyone in the world who is connected to the Internet. READ MORE

Poorly drafted privacy terms can stymie opportunities

Mark Sableman August 21, 2013
Twists_default blog

Companies that are required to have website privacy polices should take special care in drafting, vetting, and revising website terms and privacy policies. READ MORE

Hyperlinks are lawful - unless you use them unlawfully

Mark Sableman August 9, 2013

Mere reference use of a hyperlink is rarely unlawful. And a recent federal case from New York, Pearson Education v. Ishayev, affirmed that conclusion, holding that even a hyperlink to copyright-infringing materials did not itself constitute infringement. READ MORE

Retailers fail to derail ICANN’s ‘Express’ train to more top-level domains

Mark Sableman August 1, 2013
Twists_default blog

The current explosive expansion in top-level domains will create new trademark conflicts, and possibly new twists in Internet trademark law, as two very recent cases involving the retailers Express and The Limited illustrate. READ MORE

Midnight in Paris ruling: Proof that the copyright conundrum isn’t dead, or past

Mark Sableman July 24, 2013

The case hinged on this Faulkner quotation: “The past is not dead. It’s not even past.” READ MORE

Trademarks, domain name wars, and the birth of cybersquatting remedies

Mark Sableman July 19, 2013
Twists_default blog

Trademarks lie at the heart of our market society, so it’s not surprising that they’ve been important on the Internet since it first went commercial. While the principles of trademark law apply equally in the online and bricks-and-mortar worlds, there’s a twist to how trademark use is regulated within Internet domain names. READ MORE

Instant message conversation forms instant contract

Mark Sableman July 12, 2013
Twists_default blog

As a notable Internet advertising contract case shows, you can make or modify a contract with a few words transmitted by instant message. READ MORE

Fair use explained – or not?

Mark Sableman July 11, 2013
Twists_default blog

What do we make of the interesting tidbit in the Obama Administration’s annual report on protecting U.S. intellectual property rights in the digital age, the “2013 Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement”? READ MORE

The myth of free use of social media content

Mark Sableman July 11, 2013

The Internet twist that protects social media services doesn’t protect social media users. Users of those services should only post content for which they have rights, and only re-use content of others with the copyright owner’s permission. READ MORE

The Internet copyright compromise: Takedown, repost, litigate

Mark Sableman July 10, 2013
Twists_default blog

Copyright law clearly extends to the Internet, which may even constitute the most important area in which copyrighted works are copied, distributed and used. But, as usual, there are twists as to how copyright applies on the Internet. READ MORE

ISPs and content liability: The original Internet law twist

Mark Sableman July 9, 2013
Twists_default blog

Everyone in the publishing/dissemination chain is potentially liable in the bricks-and-mortar world. But through an Internet twist, intermediaries aren’t liable in the Internet world. READ MORE

Welcome to Internet Law Twists & Turns

Mark Sableman July 8, 2013
Twists_default blog

Internet law is a lot like non-Internet law — but it usually involves some twist. In every field, there is usually some way in which, because of the Internet, traditional law doesn’t work, and a problem develops. READ MORE