Interessante sentenza dagli USA sulla chiusura immotivata da parte di Facebook dell’account di un’utente

Si tratta della corte del nord california 12 noiv. 2021, 21cv04573EMC , King v-. Facebbok (dal blog di Eric Goldman).

Il provveidmento interessa, dato che la chiusura immotivata di account FB pare non sia così rara.

L’attrice avanza varie domande (una basata sul § 230.c.2.A CDA : incomprensibile, visto che , la disposizione esime da responsabilità anzichè comminarla!, p. 4 segg.)

Qui ricordo la domanda sub E, p. 10 ss basata sulla violazione contrattuale ex fide bona e correttezza.

Rigettata quella sulla distruzione di contenuto (sub 1: non condivisibelmente però: se manca obbligo specifico per F. di conservare, quanto meno la buona fede impone di dare congruo preavviso della prossima distruzione), viene accolta quella sulla mancanza di motivazione,. sub 2, p. 12 ss

F. si basa sulla pattuita clausola <<If we determine that you have clearly, seriously or repeatedly breached our Terms or Policies, including in particular our Community Standards, we may suspend or permanently disable access to your account.>> per affermare che aveva piena discrezionalità

Il giudice ha buon gioco però nel dire che non è così: <<Notably, the Terms of Service did not include language providing that Facebook had “sole discretion” to act.  Compare, e.g., Chen v. PayPal, Inc., 61 Cal. App. 5th 559, 570-71 (2021) (noting that contract provisions allowed “PayPal to place a hold on a payment or on a certain amount in a seller’s account when it ‘believes there may be a high level of risk’ associated with a transaction or the account[,] [a]nd per the express terms of the contract, it may do so ‘at its sole discretion’”; although plaintiffs alleged that “‘there was never any high level of risk associated with any of the accounts of any’ appellants, . . . this ignores that the user agreement makes the decision to place a hold PayPal’s decision – and PayPal’s alone”). 

Moreover, by providing a standard by which to evaluate whether an account should be disabled, the Terms of Service suggest that Facebook’s discretion to disable an account is to be guided by the articulated factors and cannot be entirely arbitrary.  Cf. Block v. Cmty. Nutrition Ins., 467 U.S. 340, 349, 351 (1984) (stating that the “presumption favoring judicial review of administrative action . . . may be overcome by specific language or specific legislative history that is a reliable indicator of congressional intent” – i.e., “whenever the congressional intent to preclude judicial review is ‘fairly discernible in the statutory scheme’”). 

At the very least, there is a strong argument that the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing imposes ome limitation on the exercise of discretion so as to not entirely eviscerate users’ rights>>

Inoltre (sub 3, p. 14) quanto meot una spiegazione era dovuta. (i passaggi sub 2 e il 3 si sovrappontgono)

In breve sono ritenute illegittime la disbilitgazione e la mancanza di motivazione (che si soprappongono, come appena detto: la reciproca distinzione concettuale richiederebbe troppo spazio e tempo)

Da ultimo, l’ovvia eccezione di safe harbour ex § 230.c.1 CDA <Treatment of publisher or speaker> copre la disabilitazione ma non la mancata spiegazione (p. 22).

Sul secondo punto c’è poco da discutere: il giudice ha ragione.

Più difficile rispondere sul primo,  importante nella pratica, dato che qualunque disabilitazione costituirà -dal punto del disabilitato- una violazione di contratto.

Il giudice dà ragione a F.: il fatto che esista un patto, non toglie a F. il safe harbour : <<although Ms. King’s position is not without any merit, she has glossed over the nature of the “promise” that Facebook made in its Terms of Service. In the Terms of Service, Facebook simply stated that it would use its discretion to determine whether an account should be disabled based on certain standards. The Court is not convinced that Facebook’s statement that it would exercise its publishing discretion constitutes a waiver of the CDA immunity based on publishing discretion. In other words, all that Facebook did here was to incorporate into the contract (the Terms of Service) its right to act as a publisher. This by itself is not enough to take Facebook outside of the protection the CDA gives to “‘paradigmatic editorial decisions not to publish particular content.’” Murphy, 60 Cal. App. 5th at 29. Unlike the very specific one-time promise made in Barnes, the promise relied upon here is indistinguishable from “‘paradigmatic editorial decisions not to publish particular content.’” Id. It makes little sense from the perspective of policy underpinning the CDA to strip Facebook of otherwise applicable CDA immunity simply because Facebook stated its discretion as a publisher in its Terms of Service>>.

Decisione forse esatta sul punto specifico, ma servirebbe analisi ulteriore.

Web/data scraping e secondary ticketing: è inadempimento contrattuale?

Un’agenzia di viaggio acquista biglietti aerei da Southwest Airlines (SA), rivendendoli poi a terzi, ed estrae sistematicamente vari dati, pubblicamente accessibili nel sito web di questa: ciò nonostante le condizioni di acquisto lo proibissero.

SA agisce per varie causae actiones tra cui violazione contrattuale. Decide la NORTHERN DISTRICT COURT OF TEXAS – DALLAS DIVISION , CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:21-cv-00098-E, Soutwest Airlines c. Kiwi, 30.09.2021, accogliendone la domanda.

Kiwi cita il noto precedente hiQ Labs c. Linkledin del 2019, ove fu ritenuto lecito lo scraping dei dati.

Però prevale l’orientmento del divieto di scrapintg fondato su patto apposito, presente nelle Terms  and Conditions : <<Kiwi has purchased over 20,000 flights on the Southwest Digital Platforms.  In connection with its sales of Southwest flights, Kiwi specifically acknowledges that: “All services provided by Southwest Airlines are subject to their Terms and Conditions. More information is available on their website.”  The Terms are hyperlinked at the bottom of each page of Southwest’s website with a statement that use of the website constitutes acceptance of the Terms. For all online purchases, the  user  must  affirmatively  acknowledge  and  accept  the  Terms  by  clicking  a  button  that  states:  “By clicking ‘Purchase,’ I agree to the Terms and Conditions below, the privacy policy, and the contract of carriage,” which appears just above a yellow “Purchase” button with hyperlinks to the Website Terms, Privacy Policy, and Contract of Carriage.  For each purchase, Kiwi affirmatively accepted  the  Terms.    Southwest  sent  multiple  cease-and-desist  notices  to  Kiwi’s  chief  legal  counsel, Kiwi’s CEO, and to Kiwi’s registered agents in the United States.  Southwest specifically referenced the Terms and attached a copy of them, pointing out examples of how Kiwi’s conduct violated the Terms. Kiwi acknowledged receipt of one such cease-and-desist notice in September 2019.  As  in  BoardFirst, when  Kiwi  continued  to use  the  Southwest  website  in  connection  with  Kiwi’s  business  with  actual  knowledge  of  the  Terms,  Kiwi  “bound  itself  to  the  contractual  obligations imposed by the Terms.”  See BoardFirst, 2007 WL 4823761, at *7>>, p. 7

E’ poi intgersante anche il ragionamemnot sul danno irreparabile , requisito per la cocnessione della cautgela: viene ravvisato e la cautela  èconcessa: <<Balance of harms: Southwest must also demonstrate the threatened injury if the injunction is denied outweighs any harm that will result if the injunction is granted. Southwest argues Kiwi’s business practices interfere with customer communications, misrepresent Southwest customer-friendly policies,
charge customers unnecessary fees, divert traffic away from Southwest’s website, and tarnish  Suthwest’s reputation and goodwill. Southwest argues Kiwi will suffer little if any damage by ceasing unauthorized sales of Southwest flights and that Kiwi’s interest in using the Southwest website for its own commercial purposes is entitled to “scant consideration.” Kiwi can continue its business and sell flights for other carriers.
Kiwi alleges the balance of harms tips strongly in its favor. Kiwi argues an injunction poses a significant threat to its business model, reputation, and partner relationships. Kiwi asserts removing Southwest flights from its website will drastically affect its ability to build dynamic travel itineraries for its customers. According to Kiwi, for many key travel routes and destinations,
it is impossible to fly without traveling on Southwest. It also contends that an unspecified “threat of further injunctions against brokering ticket sales poses a potentially existential threat to’s US operation.”
The Court concludes the threatened injury to Southwest if the injunction is denied outweighs the harm to Kiwi. Southwest has shown that Kiwi’s unauthorized sales of its flights  poses a significant disruption to its customer operations. Kiwi has not convinced the Court that the injunction will significantly threaten its business. As Southwest notes, Southwest is not listed as one of Kiwi’s “top 20 airlines” on its website>

(notizia e link alla sentenza  dal blog di Erik Goldman)

Utente Youtube “demonetizzato” si lamenta in corte ma perde la causa

la divisione San Josè della district court californiana decide l’8 luglio 2021, Case 5:20-cv-04687-VKD , Marshall Daniels. c. Alphabet, la lite promossa da utente Youtube che aveva lamentato sia la rimozione di suoi video che la demonetizzaione delle donazioni già maturate tramite la funzione SuperChat , che permette di pagare per avere Chat in primo piano durante una esecuzione in diretta: <<The SuperChat function “allows third parties to donate monies to content creators such as Mr. Daniels during a live stream.” Id.¶ 13.Any viewer watching a YouTube livestream can purchase a “SuperChat,” which is a highlighted chat that remains pinned to the top of the chat stream for up to five hours. Id.19. According to Mr. Daniels, “Google represents to its users that ‘SuperChat and Super Stickers are ways to monetize your channel through the YouTube Partner Program.’” Id. ¶ 13. SuperChat revenue is separate and apart from YouTube Partner advertising revenue.” Id.¶ 13 n.4>>, p. 2.

Sulle funzioni SuperChat e Super Sticker v. la pagina guida di Youtube.

Notiamo che è data per scontata la qualifica contrattuale del rapporto tra utente e Youtube, anche se il primo  nulla deve monetariamente alla seconda.

In precedenza la corte aveva rigettato per quattro ragioni la domanda di Daniels e qui le ricorda:

<<First, with respect to Mr. Daniels’s allegation that defendants breached YouTube’s Terms of Service by failing to inform him when one of his videos was flagged or removed, the Court found that Mr. Daniels did not plead any facts suggesting that defendants were required to notify him of the specific reasons for the removal of his content or that YouTube’s alleged failure to provide advance notification was inconsistent with the highly discretionary policy described in the Terms of Service. SeeDkt. No. 31 at 14; Dkt. No. 182 at 4.

Second, with respect to Mr. Daniels’s allegation that defendants breached the Terms of Service by failing to provide an appeals process, the Court found that the Terms of Service did not guarantee an appeals process in any particular form, andeven if it did, Mr. Daniels had acknowledged that he engaged in an appeals process for both of his removed videos. Dkt. No. 31 at 14.

Third, with respect to Mr. Daniels’s allegation that defendants breached the Terms of Service by failing to permit Mr. Daniels to post his videos, the Court found that theexpress terms of theTerms of Service contradicted Mr. Daniels’s claim that the Terms of Service permit YouTube to remove content only in the event that that content violates the Community Guidelines. SeeDkt. No. 31 at 1415; Dkt. No. 182 at 4(“YouTube is under no obligation to host or serve Content” and “may remove or take down that Content in our discretion”).

Fourth, with respect to Mr. Daniels’s allegation that defendants failed to pay him based on SuperChat views and donations, the Court found that Mr. Daniels had failed to adequately allege apromise that was breached because theTerms of Service on which Mr. Danielsrelies do not address any kind of arrangement to pay users based on SuperChat views and donations. SeeDkt. No. 31 at 15. However, the Court observed that Mr. Daniels might be able to plead a proper breach of contract claim based on a different agreement, such as the YouTube Partner Program agreement.>>.

La domanda modificata contempla il denaro che Y. aveva promesso di girargli tramite le donazioni su SuperChat ma che non gli girò. Secondo l’attore viola il contratto dato che l’unica ragione per cui avrebbe potuto non girarglielo era la clausola sui sei mesi di inattività (six months  dormant), però non operante nel caso specifico.

La corte rigetta: <<Defendants argue, and Mr. Daniels concedes, that the Terms of Service do not contain any provisions regarding the SuperChat function.Seeid.¶ 20; Dkt. No. 33 at 5. Mr. Danielsrespondsthat Defendants’ posted SuperChat policies are incorporated into and/or governed by YouTube’s Terms of Service. Dkt.No. 34 at 34. Essentially, he suggests that the Terms of Service encompass any statements about the SuperChat function posted elsewhere by Defendants.In the FAC, Mr. Daniels alleges that“YouTube has promised the users of the SuperChatfunction that there is one situation in which the SuperChat may be demonetized: if the creator has been dormant for six months.” Dkt. No. 32 ¶20. In opposing dismissal, Mr. Daniels identifies the source of this alleged promiseas a document already of record in this proceeding: Exhibit 122to the declaration of Lauren White. Dkt. No. 1813.

That document, titled “YouTube Partner Program overview & eligibility,” includes the following statement: “We updated this article to provide more transparency thatYouTube may disable monetization for channels that haven’t uploaded a video or posted to the Communitytab for 6 months or more.” Id.

Mr. Daniels’s assertion that this statement constitutes a promise by Defendants to pay Mr. Daniels for SuperChat donations so long as his channel is not dormant from six months or more is simply implausible.3

The statement does not refer to the SuperChat function, nor does it contain a promise that the only circumstancein which monetization will be disabled is if a channel is dormant for six months.

Mr. Daniels describes no other basis for Defendants’ purported breach of a promise to pay him for SuperChat donations already earned.

In sum, Mr. Daniels’s FAC does not state a claim for breach of contract because,as before,he fails to identify any contractual obligation that Defendants breached>>

(notizia e link alla sentenza dal blog di Eric Goldman)