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Business litigation against Hulu slated to go forward

Thousands of New Jersey residents subscribe to Hulu's video streaming service. However, they may not know that a lawsuit was filed against the company for sharing viewer preferences with Facebook Inc. and comScore Inc. The filers of this business litigation are attempting to receive class-action status on behalf of Hulu subscribers across the country.

Hulu recently tried to have the lawsuit dismissed. The lawsuit is based in part on a law from 1988 called the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), which protects the privacy of people who rent videos. The company argued that actual injury had to be shown to receive damages even if the filers meet the definition of an "aggrieved" person under VPPA. A federal judge disagreed saying that it is enough to show the information was disclosed wrongfully.

Hulu, a joint venture among ABC, Fox Broadcasting and NBCUniversal, also argued that class action certification would be problematic since many subscribers do not use their real names. The company has claimed in a separate motion to dismiss that it was unaware it had transmitted information protected by VPPA. A hearing on that motion is scheduled for Feb. 6, 2014.

If the lawsuit receives class action status, it could potentially expose Hulu to billions of dollars in liability. The plaintiffs seek damages of no less than $2,500 per incident, punitive damages and other relief in this business litigation. Both Hulu subscribers and video businesses nationwide and in New Jersey may watch the progression of this case with earnest. If the plaintiffs win the lawsuit, similar claims could be filed.

Source: Reuters, Hulu must face privacy lawsuit, U.S. judge rules, Jonathan Stempel, Dec. 23, 2013

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