Netflix And Its Subscribers Get Borked

Today, I happened upon an old email from
Our records show that you were a current or former Netflix subscriber as of July 5, 2012. We are emailing to tell you about a Settlement that may affect your legal rights. Please read this email carefully. Go to for more information.
A Settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit that claims Netflix unlawfully kept and disclosed information, including records on the movies and TV shows its customers viewed. Netflix denies that it has done anything wrong.
What does the Settlement provide?
Netflix has agreed to change its data retention practices so that it separates (known as “decoupling”) Entertainment Content Viewing History (that is, movies and TV shows that someone watched) from identification information for those subscribers who have not been a Netflix subscriber for at least 365 days, with some exceptions.
In addition, Netflix will pay $9 million into a Settlement Fund to:
• Make donations to Court-approved not-for-profit organizations, institutions, or programs.
• Pay notice and settlement administration expenses.
• Pay attorneys’ fees of up to 25% or $2.25 million of the Settlement Fund, plus up to $25,000 in expenses.
• Pay a total incentive award of $30,000 to the Named Plaintiffs.
The bottom line is that the lawyers win and everyone else loses except for six named plaintiffs who get five grand each. The cost of administering the notification and final classification of 24.4 million Netflix subscribers by administrator Rust Consulting (which will be paid a $25,000 fee plus expenses) will eat most of the $6.7 million remaining after the lawyers are paid - so an award of 27 cents per subscriber should never have been made in the first place. Expect the hearing process seeking the judge's approval of donation recipients to be more costly than the amount of the donations.

This whole case revolves around the provisions contained in a 1988 law, the Video Privacy Protection Act, which, in and of itself, is a more interesting story than the Netflix class action lawsuit settlement. It seems that the villain of this piece is a young reporter by the name of Michael Dolan who toiled for the Washington City Paper, a small publication that has only survived online. If you can get by his million dollar words, Dolan spins a nice story with a bit too many personal references, but the bottom line is that he stops me from using his words citing copyright law.

Cutting to the chase, this idiot published a story based upon Judge Robert Bork's mild choices of video rentals and the politicians went nuts.  Dolan, however, lays claims to the event that made him the first to use Judge Bork's last name as a verb. Congress passed the law to protect everyone's video choice privacy even though the constitution does not grant such a right.  But as a strict constructionist,  Robert Bork never believed that he had or was entitled to such protection.

Nothing lasts forever, so in December 2012, the Senate passes a bill for Obama's signature that permits the likes of Netflix and Facebook to release video viewing habits of their members if the members agree to be included in tallies.

Robert H. Bork died on December 19, 2012 - one day after the House approved this bill and one day before the Senate's approval. We will miss the most qualified Judge never to have served on the Supreme Court after vicious attacks by liberal Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

  • Gadfly:
    Gotta watch these guys...they can find more "roundabout" ways to gather information they have NO business or right knowing about, thereby eroding our freedoms.

    Maybe I'm just pissin' in the wind on this...but I don't think so.

    Good story.
    Stay safe out there.