By Michael Hoven
Facebook’s “Sponsored Stories” Settlement Rejected by Court
District Judge Richard Seeborg of the Northern District of California rejected a $20 million settlement of a class-action suit against Facebook over its “Sponsored Stories” feature, reports Wired. In his order, Judge Seeborg questioned the fairness of the proposed settlement, under which Facebook would pay $10 million in attorney’s fees and $10 million to charity, to class members, especially given the size of the award to plaintiffs’ attorneys and the uncertain process by which the parties arrived at the $20 million figure.
Google Adds Prior Art Finder to Its Patent Search
Google improved its patent search feature by adding European patents and a tool to search for prior art, reports GigaOM. According to Google’s Research Blog, “[t]he Prior Art Finder identifies key phrases from the text of the patent, combines them into a search query, and displays relevant results from Google Patents, Google Scholar, Google Books, and the rest of the web.” GigaOM questioned the propriety of having a private company play a pivotal role in patent disputes, while Forbes called the Prior Art Finder “an extremely useful tool.”
Linking Helps Gizmodo Defeat Defamation Lawsuit
A California appellate court affirmed a trial court’s decision to strike, on anti-SLAPP grounds, a defamation complaint against Gawker Media, reports the Atlantic. Scott Redmond, the CEO of Peep Telephony, sued Gawker because of a Gizmodo post critical of Peep Telephony. The Gizmodo post was protected in part because its use of outbound links made the article transparent and showed that it consisted of protected opinion rather than assertions of fact.
Privacy Suit against Hulu Allowed to Continue
In a decision that could have implications for all online streaming-video services, the Northern District of California (order hosted by Scribd) denied Hulu’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against it under the 1988 Video Privacy Protection Act (“VPPA”), reports the New York Times. Plaintiffs allege that Hulu allowed third-party companies to place cookies on viewers computers and track their actions across the Internet. Hulu argued, unsuccessfully, that the VPPA did not apply because Hulu was not a video rental company.