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Yelp Cannot Be Held Liable for Negative Review

October 20, 2016

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Yelp Cannot Be Held Liable for Negative Review

October 20, 2016

Authored by: BCLP and Flora Sarder

Retailers are familiar with Yelp.com as a ratings website with a star rating system that allows customers to rate products and services they receive, as well as add individual reviews and comments. Positive reviews can generate business for retailers, and negative reviews can be a source of concern.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled, however, that Yelp’s multiple-choice star rating system does not make the review site a publisher or provider of allegedly defamatory content that may be subject to liability. In Kimzey v. Yelp! Inc., the Ninth Circuit affirmed dismissal of an action by a small business owner seeking to hold Yelp liable for a one-star rating by a third party, and challenging Yelp’s immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996.

Section 230 Immunizes Interactive Service Providers From Liability

Under Section 230, a provider of an “interactive computer service” is immune from liability for allegedly defamatory comments and content by third parties. This is how service providers such as Google, Youtube, and Facebook are able to host user content and comments without being held liable for defamatory comments and content posted by third parties.

The Ninth Circuit held that Yelp clearly falls under Section 230’s immunity. It rejected Kimzey’s arguments that Yelp created or developed content by causing a review from another site to appear on its page, and that providing a star-rating feature and causing the allegedly defamatory statement to appear as a promotion on Google’s search engine transformed the review into

FAA Regulations Clear Way for Delivery Drones

August 9, 2016

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FAA Regulations Clear Way for Delivery Drones

August 9, 2016

Authored by: BCLP and Flora Sarder

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has finalized its regulations concerning operational drones, allowing retailers to start using drone delivery systems.

In making drones available for retail delivery use, the FAA has carved out a space for drones to operate without becoming an “air carrier” under federal law regulating air transportation.

As a result, drones can now be used to deliver cargo in the mainland United States, except in Washington D.C., or any U.S. territory if the cargo weighs less than a total of 55 pounds, the flight is conducted from the remote pilot’s visual line of sight, the drones fly a maximum speed of 100 mph, and gain a maximum of 400 feet.

The much anticipated drone regulations bode well for retailers and manufacturers making their way into the drone delivery space.  Just a couple of months ago, Switzerland’s postal service began testing out drone deliveries with Matternet, a company dedicated to creating and mastering drone delivery systems.

In the United States, Amazon has eagerly been preparing for favorable regulations to allow room for Amazon PrimeAir, a delivery system designed to get to customers in 30 minutes or less.

Drones must be flown by remote pilots during daylight hours

Before retailers can start operating delivery drones, the new FAA regulations require that there must be a remote pilot who holds a remote pilot certificate and conducts a pre-flight check before each flight.  The drone must remain in the pilot’s visual line of sight so that it can be readily seen without

Gender-Based Price Discrimination: California Seeks to Extend Law to Prohibit Discrimination in Pricing of Gender-Specific Goods

California is taking on gender price discrimination. California law already prevents businesses from gender-based price discrimination for services such as haircuts, alterations, and dry cleaning.   A recently proposed bill (Senate Bill 899, Hueso) would extend that law to “retailers” and prohibit price discrimination in the sale of “goods.”

SB 899 recently passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where several positive amendments were made after comments from the California Retailers Association and others.  One significant change from the original proposed legislation is elimination of a requirement that retailers post the prices of all goods so that consumers could determine if “men’s” and “women’s” products were priced the same.  The bill also removed food products from its broad scope.

The bill as amended states: “No business establishment . . . may discriminate, with respect to the price charged for goods of a substantially similar or like kind, against a person because of the person’s gender.”  “Substantially similar” is defined as goods that do all of the following: “(A) Share the same brand; (B) Share the same functional components; and (C) Share 90 percent of the same materials or ingredients.”

The amended bill also permits price differences based “specifically on the labor, materials, tariffs, or other gender-neutral reasons for having increased cost for providing the goods.”  The bill contains a statutory penalty of $4,000 for violations and contains an attorneys’ fees provision.

While substantially improved since introduction, SB 899 remains problematic:  What goods are gender-specific?  Would a pink towel or scented

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