Hamidi Wins on Appeal

Monday, June 30 2003 @ 03:53 PM EDT

Contributed by: PJ

This isn't about SCO, but the case is so significant, I wanted to post it immediately. Intel v. Hamidi has been overturned on appeal. The court ruled that no trespass to chattels can occur without actual physical interference with use or physical damage. Annoying doesn't count.

You can read the case from the CA Supreme Court website. It's a .pdf. Click on "Jun 30 2003 S103781A.PDF". This case matters a great deal, because this trespass to chattels tort has been used over and over, by ISPs against spammers and by companies against bots and crackers, and gradually it's been getting larger and larger and basically narrowing freedom on the internet. This court just put that spread into reverse. To get a clear picture of just what was at stake and every little reason why it matters so much, you can read the Harvard Law Review article, "The Long Arm of Cyber-reach."

You can read some other cases where trespass to chattels was used, and the definition is here. Also here is EFF's explanation. This is a huge win for EFF. Jennifer Granick, Esq. helped out too. You can read EFF's amicus brief, which is a work of art, if you love the law. To really understand what the Supreme Court wrote, you need to read the lower Appeals Court decision. That's what they just overturned. Under the old ruling, you could be sued just for sending email, in effect. I don't know yet if Intel will appeal this higher. If not, this is huge.

P.S. CNN is quoting an Intel spokesman on this:

Chuck Mulloy, an Intel spokesman, said the company was "disappointed in the court's decision. We're studying the opinion to assess our options in the event that Hamidi resumes spamming against Intel."

That doesn't sound like an appeal to me. It may be foreshadowing that they intend to sue Hamidi afresh, using a different type of claim, something the judge indicated might be done. The judge mentioned such claims as interference with prospective economic relations or intentional infliction of emotional distress and some other speech-based torts. Hamidi's group, FACE-Intel, uses some strong language on that site. You surely are not in any doubt as to their views on Intel. No doubt Mr. Hamidi's lawyers are explaining exactly what not to do to avoid being sued again. Of course the decision literally just happened, so Intel's lawyers are still looking it over carefully and will decide what they will do only after they complete that review and then ask Intel what it wants to do.