Media Law Bulletin

September 2015

With a Little Help From My Friends: The U.S. Supreme Court’s Grant of Cert in Spokeo

By Joseph Larsen, Houston
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to grant certioriari to review the case of Robins v. Spokeo, Inc., 742 F.3d 409, (9th Cir. 2014) will have enormous impact on American jurisprudence, however the court ultimately rules. The decision will not only, as has been widely reported, impact whether a putative plaintiff has standing to bring a class action lawsuit for “bare” statutory violations, but will also determine the standing issue for virtually all civil causes of action where damages have been set by statute. The petition for certiorari and granting thereof have drawn a remarkable number of friends-of-the-court briefs, almost unanimously in favor of petitioner Spokeo. The constitutional requirement of “injury-in-fact” for standing is at the core of the case, however, which facet of that doctrine is specifically at issue, and what it means, depends on which brief you are reading.

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Inspiration Versus Imitation Still a Blurred Line: Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke Continue Copyright Dispute Over Their Hit Track

By Erica Graves, Los Angeles

A judge recently reduced a jury’s award from almost $7.4 million to $5.4 million against musicians Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke for their copyright infringement of a Marvin Gaye song, but refused to grant a new trial. U.S. District Judge John Kronstadt issued a ruling on July 14, 2015, that the jury’s verdict of infringement will stand, but decreased the amount of damages levied against Williams and Thicke. This is the latest event in a contentious legal battle over when musical inspiration becomes imitation.

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Cyber Security Today Blog

How Your Company Can Defend Itself Against Cyber-Extortion

By John Stephens, Los Angeles


Sensational headlines about major data breaches have become common. The most typical scenarios are those in which hackers access personal data about a company’s customers and use that data for identity theft. But another type of fast-growing hack, so-called cyber extortion, may be even more damaging. In this type of attack, hackers essentially kidnap data and hold it for ransom.

For both companies and their customers, the rise of cyber extortion is alarming. There are, however, steps that can be taken to help mitigate risk. For sure, companies who are proactive both pre- and post-breach are generally better positioned when it comes to their customers’ data.

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