Mich. Man Loses Privacy Fight Against Pandora

     (CN) — In answering a certified question from the Ninth Circuit, the Michigan Supreme Court effectively killed a class action accusing Pandora Media of violating users’ privacy by disclosing their music taste.
     Peter Deacon sued the music-streaming platform Pandora for allegedly violating Michigan’s Preservation of Personal Privacy Act by making listeners’ profile pages publicly available and searchable on the Internet.
     He claims Pandora “unilaterally integrated its [listeners] profile pages with their Facebook accounts,” showing users’ Facebook friends what they have been listening to.
     Pandora is free, although users can pay a subscription fee to listen to music without hearing any advertisements between songs.
     Deacon, however, only used the free version of Pandora, and therefore cannot be said to have “rented” or “borrowed” a sound recording from the service, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled.
     “For a listener to constitute a person who ‘rents’ a sound recording, he or she must, at a minimum, provide a payment in exchange for that recording,” Judge Stephen Markman said, writing for the seven-member court.
     Nor did Deacon “borrow” a sound recording, which would require some promise he would “return” the recording at a later date, according to the ruling.
     Therefore, Deacon does not qualify as a “customer” of Pandora under the PPPA, meaning that he lacks standing to bring his claims, the judges found.
     The Michigan Supreme Court’s unanimous answer to this question ensures that the Ninth Circuit will affirm the lower court’s dismissal of his suit.

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