By: Adam Roberts
Popular music streaming service Spotify has agreed to pay $43.45 million to settle a class action lawsuit brought by a collection of songwriters and music copyright holders. The class plaintiffs allege that Spotify unlawfully distributed their music to consumers without paying what are known as ‘mechanical royalties.’ Mechanical royalties are the payments made to a songwriter which gives one the legal right to reproduce a piece of music. Under Section 115 of the Copyright Act, services like Spotify must pay mechanical royalties for all songs streamed on their web service. Although the class action has reached a proposed resolution, there may still be legal issues in seeking court approval of the settlement. Continue reading
By Cheryl Lee
What do Uber, Amazon and FedEx have in common? They are all multibillion dollar companies using independent contractors for transport and have faced or are facing lawsuits alleging they wrongfully classified employees as independent contractors.
Generally, independent contractors are cheaper for companies to hire. Employers do not have to offer benefits like health insurance and 401(k)s, pay overtime or give paid days off, cover the employer share of their payroll taxes, or withhold income taxes. Independent contractors essentially run their own business with autonomy to decide when, where and how to do the work assigned. They have the freedom to take on projects with other companies. Continue reading
By Beth St. Clair
A consumer uses her credit card to make a purchase at a major retailer. Six months later she’s notified that, due to a recent hack on the retailer’s computer systems, her credit card number has been stolen. She quickly checks her accounts but there’s no activity. All is quiet over the next few weeks. Nonetheless, she’s nervous. She cancels the credit card and enrolls in a $4.99/month credit monitoring service.
Based on these facts, should this consumer be able to join a class action suit against the retailer for the data breach? Continue reading
By Talia Loucks
Sports fans that live far from their favorite teams have a difficult time watching games. I discovered this in the 90s when I was a Seahawks fan living in Colorado. The agreements between regional sports networks, the teams, and television service providers make it extremely difficult for out-of-market fans to access games. Baseball and hockey fans, however, are currently trying to fix this. Out-of-market fans won a small victory this past May when Judge Shira A. Scheindlin of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted a motion for a class action certification.
The cases, Garber v. MLB and Laumann v. NHL, are antitrust challenges to sports broadcasting. Plaintiffs in both cases are challenging the multilateral agreements between the leagues (MLB and NHL), regional sports networks (“RSNs”), and multichannel video programming distributors (“MVPDs”)—DirecTV and Comcast—“that limit options, and increase prices, for baseball and hockey fans that want to watch teams from outside the home television territory (“HTT”) where the fans live.” Fans, who live in cities far from the teams they love, must purchase out-of-market packages that broadcast all games outside of the market. Furthermore, because of the exclusivity of networks such as the Yankees Entertainment Sports Network (“YES”) and other similar team-specific networks, often fans that have purchased out-of-market packages still cannot watch their favorite teams. Continue reading
By Kelsey O’Neal
Admit it. You’ve Googled yourself at least once; though you probably did not do it just to stroke your ego. It’s important to know if your personal information is on the Internet so that you can control your message and personal brand. Social media, from LinkedIn to Facebook to Twitter, can truly define an individual. Your Facebook page or LinkedIn profile can offer an accurate or inaccurate impression of you. For one man, Thomas Robins, his online presence did not accurately reflect him. When Robins checked his online footprint on Spokeo.com, he discovered that the website had promulgated false information about him. The search engine stated that Robins, a single man, was married; it claimed he had received a degree that he had not gained; and it claimed he was worth more than his actual net worth. Robins believes that the false information made his job search more difficult.
Robins filed a class action suit against Spokeo.com under the 1970 Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) alleging that the online database had published false personal information about him. Even though Spokeo.com published more positive information about him, Robins claims that the website caused him actual harm. The FCRA provides statutory damages from $100 – $1000, even if the plaintiff cannot show actual harm. As a general rule courts will only hear a case if the plaintiff alleges actual harm. In other words, a court must first ensure that the plaintiff has standing to allege an Article III injury-in-fact. But, The FCRA gives plaintiffs a cause of action without a showing actual harm. In choosing to hear Spokeo, the Supreme Court will decide if statutory damages provisions give plaintiffs Article III standing. In a reconsideration of the case, the District Court for the Central District of California ruled that Robins could not show that the false information was actually harmful, and so it dismissed his case. Robins appealed. The Ninth Circuit, siding with the Sixth Circuit in its decision in Beaudry v. TeleCheck Services, Inc and with the support of President Obama’s Administration, held that Robins did have standing to sue because Congress’ creation of a private cause of action created a statutory right, and the violation of a statutory right is a sufficient injury-in-fact to create standing. Spokeo.com appealed, and on April 27th, 2015, the Supreme Court decided that it should hear Robins’ case in its next session. Continue reading