Court Quashes Subpoena for Facebook Messages

In 1986, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was two years old and the World Wide Web hadn't yet made surfing the Internet as easy as typing in an address. What we now know as the Internet existed mainly as a service for researchers, academics and businesses, and it would be four years before commercial service providers began offering Internet access directly to consumers.

The same year, Congress enacted the Stored Communications Act (SCA), which brought Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures to the realm of electronic information. The law, Title II of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, prohibits disclosures of "stored wire and electronic communications and transactional records" by third party Internet service providers (ISPs).

It's a Quash

Buckley Crispin filed a complaint in December 2009 against Christian Audigier Inc., purveyors of flashy street wear adorned with tattoo-style illustrations. Crispin claimed Christian Audigier had violated an oral licensing agreement by reproducing Crispin's artwork on apparel not bearing his logo and by failing to obtain his consent to sublicense his work for use on other merchandise. In February 2010, Christian Audigier served subpoenas on third parties including Facebook and MySpace, seeking certain communications between Crispin and another artist.

Levels of Exposure

Whether Christian Audigier's subpoenas for the wall postings stand up in court will ultimately depend on the extent of Crispin's privacy settings as reconsidered by the magistrate judge.

Associate Editor

Melissa Maleske

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