By Sahil Patel
Hulu won’t be able to escape the Video Privacy Protection Act.
The online video company, which has been accused of illegally sharing its users’ viewing history to services like Facebook and comScore, has lost another appeal to dismiss the case in a federal court. Late last week, US Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler rejected Hulu’s request to dismiss the case, which was argued on the grounds that there was no actual injury to those who accused the site of tracking their viewing history. Beeler said Hulu’s disclosure of the private information was enough of an injury to warrant the lawsuit.
The Video Privacy Protection Act was created in 1988 after a newspaper had published an article disclosing which videotapes then-Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork had rented.
Obviously, this was before the web made user-tracking a common practice. Though that didn’t prevent a group of users to file a class-action lawsuit against Hulu for sharing their viewing history to other online websites and services. They argued that the VPPA applies to online video rental and subscription services (in an earlier attempt to get the case dismissed Hulu had denied this, arguing that the VPPA was limited to brick-and-mortar rental stores).
The federal court has sided with the plaintiffs, and it looks like this case will go on.
The VPPA has affected other online video providers, including Netflix, which settled the case for $9 million.
Last year, an amendment was added to the VPPA which protected online video services against the law if they obtained consent from consumers to disclose their viewing information.