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Michigan Supreme Court Says Privacy Law Doesn't Protect Pandora User

Jul 7, 2016

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The Michigan Supreme Court says the music streaming service Pandora does not violate the state’s privacy law by collecting and sharing information about user preferences. 

The state Preservation of Personal Privacy Act protects people who rent or borrow books, music, or videos from having their choices made public.

But the plaintiff in the case, Peter Deacon, said it also applies to him and people like him who use streaming services.  Deacon said Pandora made his musical preferences available on the internet and by coordinating services with his Facebook page, where they could be seen by people he allowed to be Facebook “friends.”

But the court says the plaintiff in this case didn’t pay for Pandora, and he was never expected to return the music after streaming it.

From the opinion:

“Put simply, the music-streaming program offered by defendant only involved the delivery of a sound recording to the listener; there was no corresponding ‘return’ of a recording or its equivalent from the listener to defendant.”

That means he’s not protected.  The court was providing an advisory opinion to a federal appeals court in California, which is hearing the case.  The lawsuit was filed by a man who lives in Michigan.  

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— Rick Pluta is the Managing Editor and Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org