Ancora su responsabilità per violazione di privacy/right of publicity etc. da parte dei redattori di annuari (yearbooks) e safe harbour ex § 230.

Ancora sul tema in oggetto e ancora (giusto) rigetto dell’eccezine di safe harbour ex § 230 CDA.

Si tratta di filone giudiziario di una certa consistenza , di cui avevo dato conto qui e qui.

1) BONILLA v. ANCESTRY.COM OPERATIONS INC. de 7 dic. 2021 No. 20-C-07390, Colrte ND Illinois, eastern division : <<Ancestry argues that each of Plaintiff’s claims should be dismissed because Ancestry is immune from liability under the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”). The CDA provides that “[n]o provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” 47 U.S.C. § 230(c)(1). The CDA applies to online forums that serve as “a mere passive conduit for disseminating (actionable) statements.” Huon v. Denton, 841 F.3d 733, 742 (7th Cir. 2016). Because affirmative defenses such as CDA immunity frequently turn on facts not before the court at the pleading stage, dismissal is appropriate only when the factual allegations in the complaint unambiguously establish all the elements of the defense. See Siegel v. Zoominfo Techs., LLC, 2021 WL 4306148, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 22, 2021) citing Hyson USA, Inc. v. Hyson 2U, Ltd., 821 F.3d 935, 939 (7th Cir. 2016)

Here, Plaintiff’s complaint includes allegations that Ancestry created records of Plaintiffs reflecting the information from the yearbook record, and uses that information to entice potential customers to subscribe to its services. Plaintiff also alleges that non-users are shown a limited version of the record (including a low resolution photograph) with a promotional pop-up advertisement promising access to Plaintiff’s identity and likeness if they sign up for a paid subscription. Dkt. 29 at ¶¶38-46. Ancestry recasts Plaintiff’s claims on the “mere reposting” of yearbook records, which is inconsistent with Plaintiff’s allegations that Ancestry uses those records and the likeness/identity to sell subscription services beyond his individual yearbook record.   These allegations, taken as true, do not establish that Ancestry is a “passive conduit” that should receive immunity under the CDA. Plaintiff has alleged that Ancestry collected and organized records and subsequently used Plaintiff’s and the putative class members’ names, likenesses, and identities in these records they curated for commercial gain. See Krause v. Rocketreach, LLC, 2021 WL 4282700 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 21, 2021) (rejecting CDA immunity argument where complaint allegations did not establish affirmative defense); see also Lukis v. Whitepages, Inc., 454 F.Supp.3d 746, 763 (N.D. Ill. 2020)>>.

2) CALLAHAN v. PEOPLECONNECT, INC. Case No. 20-cv-09203-EMC.  del 1.11.2021 , Tribunale del N.D. California. , molto più dettagliata , che valorizza la notevole differenza tra l’annuario in cartaceo a diffusione limitata e la sua messa on line: <<in the instant case, the Court concludes that, at the very least, there is a question of fact as to whether a reasonable person in the position of PeopleConnect (the service provider) would conclude that the yearbook authors/publishers (the information content providers) intended the yearbooks to be published on the internet. As Plaintiffs point out, the yearbooks at issue were published in the 1990s and early 2000s when “[t]he Internet was in its infancy and social media did not exist.” Opp’n at 5. Moreover, there is a difference between publishing a yearbook for a school or local community and publishing a yearbook on the internet where the audience is far broader. Thus, it would be hard to conclude that, as a matter of law, PeopleConnect is a publisher of information provided by another information content provider and is thus entitled to immunity under the CDA.

PeopleConnect’s reliance on Judge Beeler’s Ancestry decisions is unavailing. In Ancestry II, Judge Beeler indicated that, under Batzel, it was reasonable for Ancestry to believe that the yearbooks at issue were being provided to it for publication on the Internet, but Judge Beeler’s ruling appears to turn on her view that an information content provider could be people or entities other than the yearbook author/publisher. See Ancestry II, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112036, at *17-18 (stating that, “whether the yearbooks were donated by other former students or obtained from other sources, Ancestry is demonstrably not the content creator and instead is publishing third-party content provided to it for publication”; “[n]othing in Batzel requires the original creator’s permission for publication”). But that view is not consistent with the express definition of “information content provider” under the CDA; an information content provider is one who created or developed the information at issue. In the instant case, the yearbook authors/publishers are the only ones who meet that criteria.

At the hearing, PeopleConnect suggested that a service provider should be allowed to assume that the person or entity who provided the information to the service provider was the creator or developer of the information.6 Such an approach, however, would be contrary to Batzel which focuses on the reasonable perception of the service provider. PeopleConnect fails to explain why a service provider should not be held accountable if, e.g., it is obvious that the person or entity providing information to the service provider is not the creator or developer of the information. In such a situation, if it is obvious that the person or entity providing the information is not the creator or developer of the information, then the service provider “is the one making the affirmative decision to publish, and so . . . contributes materially to [the] allegedly unlawful dissemination” of the information[;] [it] is thus properly deemed a developer and not entitled to CDA immunity.”, 521 F.3d at 1171.

In the instant case, it is obvious that the yearbook users/purchasers were not the creators or developers of the yearbooks. Instead, the yearbook authors/publishers were the content providers. PeopleConnect cannot claim the benefit of CDA immunity, absent a reasonable basis to believe that the yearbook authors/publishers intended for there to be publication on the Internet. This presents a question of fact that cannot be resolved at the 12(b)(6) phase of proceedings>>.