(July 18, 2016) Michigan’s Preservation of Personal Privacy Act, or “PPPA,” is a relatively obscure law aimed at protecting individuals’ privacy with respect to the purchase, rental, or borrowing of books and recordings.1 The law was enacted in 1988, but with the subsequent explosion of the internet its application is now being tested to more modern forms of “recordings,” including music-streaming programs like Pandora. Pandora is a free program which allows listeners to create customized stations of playlists based on their preferences, although there is an option to pay for commercial-free listening.
The Michigan Supreme Court was recently asked to address the application of the PPPA to Pandora in the case of Deacon v. Pandora. In the case, Peter Deacon sued Pandora for violating the PPPA by publically disclosing his personal music preferences on the internet and integrating his music profile page with his Facebook account. The Michigan Supreme Court held that Deacon did not have a claim under the PPPA because he did not qualify as a “customer” under the Act, a defined term that includes individuals who “rent” or “borrow” the recording. Consulting dictionaries from the late 1980s, when the PPPA was enacted, the Court concluded that Deacon did not “rent” the recording because he did not pay Pandora any fee. In addition, the Court stated that Deacon did not “borrow” the recording either, because there was no promise that he would ever “return” it to Pandora. Because Deacon was not a “customer” as defined in the Act, the Michigan Supreme Court held that he did not have a valid claim against Pandora.
1 The PPPA is codified at MCL 445.1711 et seq.More Publications