Hollywood Docket: Twitter Eavesdropping Lawsuit Withdrawn

A roundup of entertainment legal news including a new Supreme Court case sure to be watched by studios.
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Twitter on Thursday escaped a lawsuit alleging the social media service surreptitiously eavesdrops on its users’ private communications and alters links.

Wilford Raney, the plaintiff in the case, filed a notice of voluntary dismissal. He did so a few days after he was subjected to a deposition. At the time of dismissal, Twitter also was arguing that the case should be paused while the Supreme Court decided in a separate, pending case whether a lack of concrete injury gives plaintiffs standing to pursue litigation in federal court.

Before the lawsuit was dropped, Twitter responded to the lawsuit by arguing that automatically transforming URLs into link shorteners wasn't an illegal interception and urged the court to apply the Wiretap Act narrowly.

A spokesperson for Twitter didn't have to be told about the development. Mysteriously, he already knew. A statement from the company: "We're pleased the case was voluntarily dismissed by the Plaintiff without us paying anything or entering into a settlement."

In other legal news:

-Netflix has settled a lawsuit brought by a company that claimed owning the rights to a subtitled version of the Italian classic The Bicycle Thief. The film itself is in the public domain, but maybe not the English version. Regardless, the dispute is over on undisclosed terms.

-The 2nd Circuit has affirmed the dismissal of a copyright lawsuit over 50 Cent's hit "I Get Money.” Tyrone Simmons, known as the rapper Young Caliber, says he bought an exclusive right to the beat before the producer turned around and sold it to 50 Cent. Unfortunately for Simmons, he didn't file the case within three years, and the judges say it is time-barred.

-In March 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Supap Kirtsaeng, an immigrant from Thailand who was held liable for copyright infringement after selling textbooks he purchased oversees on eBay. The case involved the first-sale doctrine under U.S. copyright law, which is important in the entertainment industry. Now, that same immigrant has again been given a trip to the nation's highest court. On Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a follow-up to its 2013 case. The new issue: What constitutes the appropriate standard for awarding attorneys’ fees to a prevailing party under the Copyright Act? Hollywood lawyers will be watching. The prevailing one in the "Blurred Lines" case recently asked for $2.66 million in attorneys' fees. The ones who beat back a claim over Fox's New Girl recently demanded $550,000 from the two writers who alleged their script was stolen. And so forth. Don't underestimate this one. With so many copyright lawsuits flying in the entertainment industry, who pays the legal tab can be quite an incentive or disincentive to filing litigation in the first place.

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