Blocked, Buster: Video Rental Company Settles Lawsuit

Vhs'sss by Flickr user Orin Zebest, licensed by Creative Commons.

A settlement has been reached by top video rental company, Blockbuster, in a class-action lawsuit.  A Minnesota man, Baseem Missaghi, claimed that Blockbuster has been violating the Video Privacy Protection Act. The Privacy Protection Act was created specifically for rental companies like Blockbuster to prevent harvesting their end user’s information. The law states that video rental companies are not allowed to unveil information specific to each user’s account without their consent. Blockbuster had reportedly been holding onto the private data for millions of their consumers across the world. As part of the settlement, Blockbuster was required to pay lawyer fees totaling around $140,000.

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Google Goes On Safari

Copyright Anthony Eden and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.Have you ever been to a zoo? There are tons of exotic animals like those you’d find on safari all walking about, living their lives, almost oblivious to the fact that they’re being watched. You might also notice signs like “Keep Out” or “Do Not Touch The Glass”, which are most likely for your own safety. Well, Google recently decided to overlook these warnings and delve a little deeper into Safari itself — that is, Apple’s internet browser. A purported breach of privacy settings has resulted in a settlement that will cost Google somewhere around $22.5 million.

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Settlement News in the Entertainment Business

A record player, by Joe Lencioni, licensed via Creative CommonsThe entertainment world has recently reached a few settlements, and brought some old ones back up for new litigation.

  • A settlement has finally been reached in the Michael Jackson secret recording case. In 2003, as Michael Jackson flew to Santa Barbara, California to turn himself in on child molestation charges, the jet company he hired conspired to record the pop singer and his lawyers.  Shortly thereafter, Jeffrey Borer of XtraJet attempted to sell the video to media outlets in the ensuing media frenzy of that particular trial.  Not exactly the machinations of a smooth criminal, here.  Now, nearly a decade later, Jackson’s attorneys have reached a $750,000 settlement with the now-defunct company, meaning Borer will never have to go to trial for invasion of privacy.

Click here to read two more settlements after the jump:

Latest Settlement in Phone Hacking Case Announced

Charlotte Church received $951,000 dollars and an apology from the former newspaper News of the World in the latest of civil settlements to come from the widespread phone hacking scandal, USA Today reports.  Church alleged that the tabloid hacked into her family’s voicemail, illegally gathering private information that was used in 33 articles about the singer’s family. More than 60 other celebrities have won large settlements from the company, which has been scampering to settle every lawsuit against them as quickly as possible.  As part of these agreements, News Corp admits to no wrongdoing.  However, criminal investigations into the company, which also owns the Fox network of companies and many other newspapers and outlets, are still ongoing.

It will be interesting to see how these criminal investigations play out.  While the court documents and settlements all declare no wrongdoing and make no legal decisions against New Corp., the determination to brush these settlements under the rug is certainly suspect.  When 60 people claim evidence against a company and that company chooses every time to pay those people money instead of fight the evidence, it makes one wonder what will come to light once a real criminal trial is underway.  After all, News Corp. may be reasoning that any information admitted to the public record during a trial may be damning in a future criminal case and that settlement money is mere drop in the bucket compared to the many others that may come forward based on that information.  Considering that they have been suspected of destroying evidence related to the phone hacking, perhaps they are just buying more time with these settlements.