On May 26th, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled that, under the Stored Communications Act of 1986, postings to a user’s Facebook “wall” (and, similarly, to the “comments” page on MySpace – although nobody actually uses MySpace anymore) are considered private so long as the user has his privacy settings set such that only “friends” can see his wall postings. Accordingly, such private communications are not subject to discovery in a civil proceeding. The case is Crispin v. Christian Audigier Inc., 2010 U.S. Dist. Lexis 52832 (C.D. Calif. May 26, 2010). It makes no difference whether the Facebook user is wildly popular and has thousands of “friends.” According to the court, a determination of whether someone has deemed his communications to be private cannot be based on the number of “friends” on one’s account, as this would result in arbitrary line-drawing.
This is a pretty significant decision in the emerging area of Social Media Law, as it is the first time any court has examined the question whether the privacy settings of popular social media sites like Facebook actually have any legal implication. If the rest of the country chooses to follow the trail blazed by the Federal Court in Los Angeles (as is often the case), the ability for litigants to use social media sites as a treasure trove of discoverable information (the “hot” thing to do these days if you’re a litigator) may be significantly curtailed. All one needs to do, according to the California court, is to properly set one’s privacy settings so that one’s Facebook page is not open to the general public.
I’m double-checking my privacy settings right now…
- Intellectual Property
- Social Media
- Craft Brewing
- Trademark Litigation
- Medical Marijuana
- United States Patent and Trademark Office
- Trademark Trial and Appeal Board
- Registered Trademark
- Federal Trademark
- Amazon's Brand Registry
- Medical Cannabis Dispensaries
- Drug Enforcement Agency
- Uniform Trade Secrets Act
- E-Discovery Case Law
- Regulation Fair Disclosure
- Securities Law
- Securities Regulation
- Generic.com Terms Are Not Per Se Generic
- EU Trademarks Post-Brexit: Now What?
- Don’t end up on The Elf on the Shelf’s naughty list!
- Stay Out of Trouble With the Federal Trade Commission
- "Aloha Poke": Social Media and Consumer Perception are Part of the Trademark Enforcement Equation
- Could Any Old Yahoo Nab Chief Wahoo?
- Trademark Registration Practice is Officially…umm…Well, You’ll See
- Booze is Booze, Right? Not so fast...
- Did A Neural Network Just Solve Craft Brewing's Trademark Problems?
- Enroll in Amazon’s Brand Registry 2.0… But Only if You Own a Registered Trademark