Usual disclaimer – I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. Use it at your own risk, and consult a lawyer if you have legal questions.
As thousands of other users I received the e-mail from the “Online DVD Class Action Administrator” informing me that there is a class action lawsuit against Netflix. Apparently the Class Counsel reached the agreement with Netflix on the settlement terms. The information about the lawsuit and the settlement is available on the web site http://www.videoprivacyclass.com
If you ever been a party to the class action lawsuit before, you obviously remember a typical “fair and reasonable” settlement terms: you get something like a coupon with a lot of strings attached or a check for a quarter, and the attorneys representing the class get several millions of dollars. As usual, the easiest option you’re provided is – and what everyone wants you to do – is to “do nothing” and accept this “fair and reasonable settlement”. Your other options typically include objecting to the settlement or exclude yourself – and since neither the Defendant nor the class counsel want you to use any of those options, usually both of them are made as inconvenient as possible, requiring you to prepare, print and mail the document to several (sometime more than a dozen) different entities.
This case is not too different, with the notable exception that the class gets nothing at all with the exception of very minor and weak injunctive relief. And some non-profits may get some money to “educate users about online threats” – I just hope they won’t do it by running paid advertisement on the Netflix website – which is hard to see as a benefit for the class.
So I’m objecting to the settlement. Below is the text of the objection. If you’re part of the class and want to object to the settlement, feel free to use it. I suggest to use it as a template – remove the things which aren’t important for you, add the things which are important for you. But even sending the copy of objection is valuable because it tells the Court that there is a lot of people who are unhappy with the settlement. There is the only way to actually show it to the court as lack of objections gives the attorneys from both sides the right to say that the class members are happy with the settlement.
Your other option is to exclude yourself from the settlement. This way you retain the right to sue Netflix on your own. Typically this opinion makes little sense unless you indeed plan to sue, but in this case it makes a lot of sense because there seem to be no benefits from staying in the class at all. If the settlement is approved by the court – and note that the both parties in the courtroom want it to be approved – the excluded seem to be getting all the benefits of the settlement anyway while still retaining the right to sue Netflix. So here it indeed makes sense.
So if you decide to exclude yourself, follow the answer in the FAQ:
To exclude yourself from the Settlement Class, you must send a letter saying that you want to be “excluded” from the Class in In re Netflix Privacy Litigation, No. 5:11-cv-00379-EJD. Your exclusion request must include your name, address, telephone number, signature, and a signed statement to the effect that: “I/We hereby request to be excluded from the proposed Settlement Class in In re Netflix Privacy Litigation.” Your exclusion request must be postmarked no later than November 14, 2012, and sent to the Settlement Administrator at the following address:
Netflix Privacy Settlement Administrator; PO Box 2750; Faribault, MN 55021-9750
And if you decide to object, please read the objection I have sent, fill up your information, modify it as you need and send it too (but the objection must be sent to three addresses, not to the address above). Please note that you cannot do both – you can either exclude yourself or object. Please read the FAQ if you have further questions.