Parker v. Google: Internet Law is too Unsettled to be Frivolous

Pennsylvania Caselaw:  In Parker v. Google, 2008 WL 2600299 (United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania 2008), the Court was presented with a lawsuit filed by Gordon Roy Parker, a pro se (a person without a lawyer) against Google. In that case, Parker alleged copyright infringement, defamation, invasion of privacy and negligence relating to the fact that Google catalogues and utilizes digitally stored information that belongs to him. The Court dismissed those claims, in part, on the basis that “Google’s automatic archiving of postings and excerpting of websites did not include the necessary volitional element to constitute direct copyright infringement.” Id at 1. Further, many of the claims were barred by the Communications Decency Act which provides for immunity for websites that are merely a conduit for information or opinion of others.

For these and other reasons, the Court found that Parker had not stated viable causes of action against Google. The latter then moved for reimbursement of its attorneys’ fees based upon the frivolousness of the pleading and the language of the Copyright Act which provides for the option of an award of attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party.

The Court denied Google’s motion. Interestingly, its basis for the denial was that Internet law is so new and unsettled, that it would not be fair to punish a nonprevailing party with an order to reimburse his adversary’s attorneys fees. Indeed, the Court noted that the case was filed in 2004, and at that earlier time, “many facets of Internet law were even less settled than today.”

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© 2008 Nissenbaum Law Group, LLC