Welcome to my weekly review of interesting events in law, literature and film …


1. Lawsuit of the Week: Is a Content Curator a Content Creator?

Doe v. Snap, Inc d/b/a SNAPCHAT, LLC

John Doe, a minor child, was repeatedly sexually assaulted by his high school science teacher in Houston. Among other defendants, Doe sued Snapchat alleging that its social media platform aided the abuser by designing algorithms that target minors and conceal illegal solicitations.



Snapchat relied on the Communications Decency Act in defending against Doe’s claim. The Communications Decency Act states in part, “No provider or user of an interactive computer services shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” 

This statute gives blanket immunity to any platform that merely republishes or broadcasts speech in any manner.

Doe argued that social media platforms do more than just republish information from third parties. They have sophisticated algorithms that curate content and aim it toward vulnerable populations, like minors. Snapchat has a feature that allows the sender to engage in illegal behavior through a disappearing message feature. These constitute a design defect that would impose liability outside of the context of the Communications Decency Act. Doe also argued that Snapchat is not just a publisher of information. By curating and specifying where and how the information is used, Snapchat is a “distributor.”

Alas, Doe lost. The case is certain to be appealed to the US Supreme Court. The opinion can be found here.

2. Legal Article of the Week: Realtor Real Talk

Have you sold a home in the past 50 years? When doing so, did you also have to pay a commission to the buyer’s agent? A class action lawsuit brought on behalf of 500,000 home sellers in Missouri led to a $1.8 billion verdict against the National Association of Realtors and other real estate brokerage houses. The NAR is unlikely to survive the verdict, and the ripple effect throughout the industry will be enormous. Read more here.

3. Funny Article of the Week: Pepe Le Pew Gets #Metoo’d

Remember Pepe Le Pew, the French skunk who dedicated his life to the relentless pursuit of amour? He finally ran into the #MeToo movement. Here’s his hilarious mea culpa.



4. Movie Clip of the Week: Inherit the Wind

One hundred years ago, John Thomas Scopes was arrested and tried for teaching evolution at a local high school in rural Tennessee. His criminal trial was a battle between fundamentalists who believed in the literal word of God as set forth in the Bible and Modernists who believed that evolution was not inconsistent with its interpretation of the Bible. Inherit the Wind fictionalizes the trial and stars Spencer Tracy as the lawyer for the teacher. Click here to watch as he cross examines opposing counsel, the prosecutor, about the Bible. It is as relevant today as it was in 1925. Maybe even more so.

5. Book of the Week: Fire Weather by John Valliant

Regardless of where you stand on climate change and emerging weather patterns, this book will frighten you. It is the story of the 2016 Fort McMurray fire, called “the Beast” by locals. The backstory wanders a bit but the payoff is gripping. The latter one-third of the book reads like a thriller. Several times I had to put it aside. It’s that frightening.



Episode 5 is complete. Many thanks for reading and feel free to reach out with any comments, questions or suggestions.