Quimbee logo
DMCA.com Protection Status
From our private database of 15,400+ case briefs...

Specht v. Netscape Communications Corp.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
306 F.3d 17 (2002)

Specht v. Netscape Communications Corp.


Netscape Communications Corp. (Netscape) provides two separate software programs known as “Communicator” and “SmartDownload.” When internet users download these programs, the programs track the users’ internet usage and display advertisements relevant to such usage. Before downloading Communicator, all users are required to view and accept a license spelling out these terms of use. The license automatically displays on the computer screens of everyone who attempts to download Communicator. However, a similar license does not appear on the screens of those who attempt to download SmartDownload. Rather, users just see a button which says “download” and invites them to click to download the program. A link to the license agreement for SmartDownload can be viewed by users who scrolled down their screens below the “download” button. However, this link is not automatically visible to users who do not scroll down. Both license agreements for Communicator and SmartDownload contain arbitration clauses. Specht (plaintiff) and five other plaintiffs all downloaded both Communicator and SmartDownload. They agreed to the license agreement for Communicator but were unaware of and thus did not agree to the license agreement for SmartDownload. If they had clicked on the license link for SmartDownload, Specht and the other plaintiffs would have been presented with a screen telling them that by downloading the product, they were agreeing to be bound by the terms of the license agreement. Specht and the other plaintiffs brought suit against Netscape in federal district court on the ground that the Communicator and SmartDownload software is a violation of privacy and electronic “eavesdropping” statutes. Netscape sought to enforce the terms of its license agreements for both Communicator and SmartDownload with all plaintiffs. Specht argued that they should not be bound by the arbitration clause for the SmartDownload contract because the license for that product is not visible to a reasonable internet user. The district court agreed and held all plaintiffs were not bound by the license agreements for either Communicator or SmartDownload. Netscape appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Sotomayor, C.J.)

What to do next…

  1. Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.

    You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.

  2. Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.

    Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.

Here's why 321,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 15,400 briefs, keyed to 210 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
  • The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.