PublishedApril 25, 2002

CCIA Urges California Supreme Court to Reject Universal Internet Jurisdiction

Washington, DC – The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) filed an amicus curiae brief today with the California Supreme Court, urging the court to overturn a controversial lower court decision finding jurisdiction over a college student whose only contact with the State was the act of publishing a website on the Internet. The brief in Pavlovich v. DVD Copy Control Association was filed jointly with the Student Press Law Center.

“If allowed to stand, this decision would create universal jurisdiction in California for any person or company that publishes a website on the Internet,” said CCIA President and CEO Ed Black. “If followed in other States or in other countries, this would subject every website owner to the jurisdiction of virtually every court in the world. Clearly, this shatters established concepts of jurisdiction and must not be allowed to stand.”

In the Pavlovich case, a California Court of Appeal found that the defendant was subject to the jurisdiction of the State’s courts based on his participation in the operation of an Internet website while he was a student in Indiana. Contrary to longstanding precedent requiring commercial conduct and “purposeful availment” to the benefits of a forum, the lower court upheld jurisdiction based on an unproven allegation that the defendant had caused “harmful effects” on industries centered within the State.

“The lower court ruling cannot be reconciled with the jurisdictional precedents of California or the Federal courts,” said Black. “Of even greater concern to us is the havoc this ruling could create in our industry and others. CCIA’s members must be able to anticipate and control their potential legal liabilities by choosing where they wish to do business and the jurisdictions in which they will be subject to legal actions. If upheld and followed by other courts, this decision would eviscerate any practical limits on the reach of courts everywhere.”

CCIA’s amicus brief is posted on our website

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