Internet Law

In the last few years, Internet has become the most popular way of communicating among people. Internet has had a massive impact on many areas of life, both professional and personal.

We handle a wide variety of Internet law cases, such as online defamation, copyright infringement, cybersquatting and computer hacking.

Online defamation

The reputation of people and businesses can be easily compromised by defamatory material posted on the Internet.
The majority of the Internet Law matters that we handle involve defamation of character made by mean of:

  • Anonymous reviews on Google;
  • Defamatory posts on Twitter;
  • Fake Yelp reviews;
  • Defamatory Facebook comments;
  • Anonymous WordPress Blogs.

Defamation is any false, intentional, and unprivileged statement of fact, either written (libel) or spoken (slander), that harms someone’s reputation. State laws often define defamation in specific ways. Sometimes, it is difficult to define what is and what is not a libel or a slander, because each State’s definition is often different. Some States put slander and libel together into the same set of laws.

Within the libel meaning, there are three different types of defamatory statements:

  • The statement that is defamatory on its face, and is obviously defamatory;
  • The statement which contains a false innuendo, a defamatory statement that has an inferential meaning, which may vary depending on the geographic or cultural location of the “victim”;
  • The statement which contains a legal innuendo, which is not defamatory on their face, but when viewed together with extrinsic circumstances.

Statements are considered defamation if were made with malice, with knowledge that it was false, or with reckless disregard of whether or not it was false.
Some statements are protected by absolute privileges, a complete defense to a defamation claim (for example, statements made by witnesses in judicial proceedings). On the other side, public figures (such as celebrities and movie stars) have less protection from defamatory statements, and face a higher burden when attempting to win a defamation lawsuit.
Generally, if the statement was published, caused injury, was false, and was unprivileged, is considered defamation. The crux of a defamation claim is falsity. Truth is a defense in all defamation cases.

Copyright infringement

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to the authors of original works of authorship including musical, literary, artistic, architectural, and other intellectual works (published and unpublished). The owners of a copyright have the exclusive right to make, sell, reproduce, distribute, license, or copy their works, the right to create derivative works, and the right to perform or display their works publicly. These exclusive rights generally expire 70 years after the author’s death.
United States copyright law is governed by the Federal Copyright Act of 1976. According to the Copyright Act of 1976, registration of copyright is voluntary and may take place at any time during the term of protection.

The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a U.S. copyright law that implements two 1996 of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties. Among other things, the DMCA increases the penalties for copyright infringement on Internet and for circumventing an access control.
In 1998, DMCA amended Title 17 of the U.S. Code to extend the reach of copyright, while limiting the liability of the providers of on-line services for copyright infringement by their users. The U.S. Copyright Act, title 17 of the U.S. Code §§ 101 – 810, is a Federal legislation enacted by Congress under its Constitutional grant of authority, to protect and encourage the creation of art and culture by rewarding authors and artists with a set of exclusive rights.
Works of authorship published in a tangible medium of expression falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Copyright Act.

In cases involving Internet copyright laws, the first step is generally to file a DMCA takedown notice with Google and the website owner, seeking immediate removal of the copyright-protected material. If this request is not complied with, a complaint in Federal Court should be filed, seeking a temporary as well as a permanent injunction, along with statutory damages and attorneys’ fee.

Cyber Harassment

Harassment consists of the intentional crossing of your emotional or physical safety boundaries. In the legal context, harassment is defined as a course of conduct directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress.

You are suffering from online or cyber harassment if you have had at least one of the following six occurrences:

  • Name-calling or being called offensive names;
  • Cyberbulling;
  • Physical threats;
  • Harassment over a sustained period of time;
  • Sexual harassment;
  • Cyberstalking.

Less severe cyber harassment instances are name-calling and embarrassment while more severe cases include physical threats, sustained harassment, stalking, and sexual harassment. Social media, like Facebook or Twitter, are frequently the scene of cyber harassment. Cyberstalkers use Internet, chat rooms, emails, message boards, or other electronic communications to stalk or importune someone. Cyberbullies use social media, blogs, instant messaging, and other internet avenues to slander or defame someone.

States have enacted laws that explicitly include cyberstalking or cyber harassment. If you have been harassed, you should report the incident to the system administrator of both your and your stalker Internet service. An experienced internet lawyer will be able to advise you of your rights and help you take action against your cyber-harasser.

Hacking & Cyber crime defense

The amount of sensitive and financial information over Internet and the proliferation of unsafe web applications have dramatically increased computer hacking attacks.
The word “Hacking” means re-configuring a computer system, breaking into it, frequently with the intention to alter or to modify existing settings.
Hackers seek and exploit weaknesses in a computer system or network, gaining unauthorized access to computers. They steal what you have stored on it, such as bank account details, credit card numbers, or other personal information or data. Hackers are motivated by a multitude of reasons, such as profit or enjoyment.

Hacking is often used as a method to commit crimes such as fraud or theft. Thus, computer hacking is illegal and punishments range from hefty fines to jail time. On the other side, computer programmers argue the difference between computer criminals (black hats or “crackers”) and computer security experts (white hats).
Hackers can use a number of tools. For example, viruses or contaminants are a set of computer instructions that are designed to infect other computer programs or data, modifying, damaging, or transmitting information within a computer network without the permission of the owner. The attacker analyzes the targets looking for known vulnerabilities, and then obtains access to the files.

The Payment Card Industry created the Data Security Standard in order to fight against credit card fraud. Data Security Standard requires merchants to take specific actions that protect against hacking attacks. Hacking attacks can also damage a company’s reputation.
For this reason, industries and governments have implemented regulations with the intent of securing against common hacking attacks. In the United States, there are internet laws against hacking. For instance, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), 18 U.S.C. § 1030, prohibits unauthorized access to government computers and protected computers.

If you have been charged with a violation of the CFAA, please contact us for a free initial consultation.

Simone Bertollini has recently obtained a “not guilty’ jury verdict on all the felony charges of the first ever “click fraud” trial.

Wall Street Journal, page 3, July 24, 2017

Jury Verdict

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