Google v. CNIL (read more), tensions are heating up again between Google and France, as Google refuses to play ball with France's new copyright law. The 2019 EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market aimed, inter alia, to protect publishers from the scraping of their news product for aggregators' clips and snippets without compensation. France was the first country, and only so far, to transpose the directive's article 15 (né draft article 11) into national law. Effective this month, the French law would compel an aggregator such as Google to pay news publishers for the content that appears in Google search results. How much money Google makes from Google News is disputed, but it's a lot. Google contends that news providers are well compensated by traffic driven to their websites. The news industry doesn't feel that way and blames aggregators for killing the business model of news, public interest journalism along with it. Now Google has said that search results in France will exclude content that would require payment under the new copyright law. The News Media Alliance, a U.S. industry association, has called Google's move "extortion."
|Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek, Austrian Green|
The facts reveal the problematic scope of the state power implicated, as the case arose from a Facebook post disparaging, e.g., "traitor," an Austrian politician. The disparagement was regarded as defamation in the Austrian courts, but would be protected as core political commentary or hyperbolic opinion in the United States and many other countries. The prospect of a state order with global reach was raised by the recent CJEU decision in Google v. CNIL. Slate's take took no prisoners: "In so ruling, the court demonstrated a shocking ignorance of the technology involved and set the stage for the most censor-prone country to set global speech rules."
The case is Glawischnig-Piesczek v. Facebook Ireland Ltd., No. C-18/18 (Oct. 3, 2019).
US: Extraterritorial discovery. The Second Circuit meanwhile published an opinion that pushes outward against the territorial bounds of U.S. law. The court ruled that statutory civil procedure under 28 U.S.C. § 1782 may reach records held outside the United States and is co-extensive in scope with the maximum long-arm personal jurisdiction of constitutional due process.
The case arose from Banco Santander's acquisition of Banco Popular Español (BPE) after a criminal investigation and government-forced sale of the latter. Mexican nationals and investors opposing the acquisition sought discovery in the U.S. District Court in New York against Santander and its New York-based affiliate, Santander Investment Securities (SIS), under § 1782. The law compels discovery against a person or legal entity that "resides or is found" in the U.S. jurisdiction.
|Santander New York (© Google Earth)|
However, the court held, only SIS, not Santander, was within the reach of long-arm personal jurisdiction. SIS was subject to general jurisdiction, but was not meaningfully involved in the BPE acquisition. Santander had hired New York consultants to contemplate an acquisition of BPE, which could subject Santander to specific jurisdiction, but that was an entirely different transaction, prior to the government-forced sale of BPE.
Though the case deals with conventional discovery, it has important implications for transnational business in the age of e-discovery. Expansive U.S. discovery practice is incompatible with more restrictive norms in much of the world, Europe included. Section 1782 is a potentially powerful tool for savvy litigants to get their hands on opponents' materials when foreign courts won't allow it. That's bound to rub transnational business and foreign regulators the wrong way.
The case is In re Del Valle Ruiz, No. 18-3226 (2d Cir. Oct. 7, 2019). Hat tip to New York attorney Ken Rashbaum, at Barton LLP, who telephonically visited my Comparative Law class and referenced the case, and will be writing more about it soon.
Gin labeling and grains of paradise. OK, this is more about misinformation than information, and it is globally important. Law and gin, two great international cultural forces and loves of my life, come together in a recently filed lawsuit over grains of paradise. You can't make up stuff this dry yet thirst-quenching.
|Bombay Sapphire Bottle (by @Justintoxicate)|
The ABA Journal explained: "The 150-year-old Florida law was passed when people thought grains of paradise was a poisonous drug. The misconception likely arose when home distillers added other, dangerous ingredients to gin to 'mask the awful distilling and make more money,' according to Olivier Ward, a British gin expert and consultant who spoke with the Miami Herald." Bacardi is not hiding anything and maintains that its products comply with all health and safety regulations. The complaint itself states that grains of paradise are listed in the ingredients and actually etched on the gin's blue bottle.
The case is Marrache v. Bacardi, U.S.A., Inc., No. 1:19-cv-23856 (S.D. Fla. docketed Sept. 16, 2019).