The past few years have witnessed a series of attempts by plaintiffs to apply the Video Privacy Protection Act (“VPPA”) — a statute passed in 1988 to protect against certain disclosures of video rental records — to the video distribution technologies of today. For example, in Sterk v. Redbox Automated Retail, plaintiffs sued the video kiosk operator for violating the VPPA’s prohibitions against disclosure of video rental data and prolonged retention of such data. (The Seventh Circuit threw out the retention claim after an interlocutory appeal of the district court ruling, but the disclosure claim is still pending.)
Mollett v. Netflix, a suit filed under the VPPA (and an analogous California statute, Cal. Civ. Code. § 1799.3) involved yet another attempt at applying the statute in a way that its drafters could not have envisioned. Noting this and several other infirmities in the complaint, Judge Davila of the Northern District of California dismissed the suit earlier this week.