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Monday, April 20, 2009

Class Action Lawsuit vs Blockbuster re: Facebook Beacon Ad Program

After reading this article I had some serious questions about those little legal disclaimers we have to sign to get the software we want.

My first panicked question was: What happens if a Software truly does your life harm?
This came from Blockbuster using the Beacon Ad program on Facebook to notify your friends of what you were renting and buying. Now on the surface that sounds fine. Now place yourself in the young executive's shoes who is a single young man making his way to the top through the Good Ol' Boys club but "spices" up his video watching on the weekend. Then lets before the big promotion the Execs Superiours decide to do some digging into his social life just so they know who the face of the company will be. (I know I am taking a lot of leaps here, first that an executive has time to watch movies and be on Facebook, and that his superiors check up on him, even though that is less of a stretch)
I guess my real point is, is that damaging information is awful when you put it on the page yourself; it is catastrophic when a third party releases it for you thinking it is what you wanted.

Ok now my second question was: Can they really do a class action lawsuit after they had signed the waiver to use a arbitration and NOT do a class action lawsuit?
Well according to the judge currently presiding over this case the answer is yes. According to the article the judge claimed that the terms of use were "illusory" (I love it when judges use big words no one else uses :( it means deceptive). The judge ruled this way because the terms of the contract between Blockbuster and the end user could be changed at anytime. Now I don't know about you but that just described every single software or web-content related contract I have ever signed.
So does this mean I can sign any of those that I want and then sue the pants off of them even though the "contract" says I can't do that? Is it just me or does that ruling just throw to the wind all legitimacy that these contracts have? Why is one part "illusory" while another part of the contract is steadfast? There is probably a lawyer out there that could tell me all the nuances and ramifications of contract writing but to me as a layman I can't see what is going on.
Well we will watch and see.

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