German court rejects suit against Facebook

Facebook won dismissal of a lawsuit involving a picture of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a Syrian refugee that raised questions about the social network’s duty to remove racist comments by its users.

A German court in the city of Wuerzburg rejected a bid by the refugee to force the company to block any post featuring the picture or repeating offensive statements that often accompanied the photograph. The judges said that the country’s media law doesn’t apply to Internet platforms such as Facebook and that lawmakers would need to change the rules to give Anas Modamani, 19, the relief he sought.

The picture of Modamani and Merkel has become an emblem of the chancellor’s refugee policies. Modamani’s attorney had told the court it was posted by numerous users who added libelous statements about his client, including falsely alleging he took part in terrorist attacks or was responsible for the attempted murder of a homeless person.

“Facebook didn’t adopt the statements and the postings as its own opinion,” Presiding Judge Volkmar Seipel said after delivering the ruling. “It’s not Facebook that’s claiming these things when users are uploading the picture.”

— Bloomberg News

SEC expands ticket resale case

Events featuring Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones and even Harry Potter are now part of a federal regulator’s lawsuit accusing two New York men of running a Ponzi scheme centered on the resale of tickets to events such as the Broadway musical “Hamilton.”

In an amended civil complaint filed Tuesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Joseph Meli, 42, and Matthew Harriton, 52, raised more than $97 million from at least 138 investors in 17 states as part of a scam.

That is up from $81 million raised from at least 125 investors when the alleged fraud was made public in January.

A lawyer for Meli did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Daniel Horwitz, an attorney for Harriton, said, “We believe the evidence will show that Matt Harriton was a victim.”

The SEC said Meli and Harriton typically told investors to expect 10 percent returns plus a stake in profits from bulk purchases and resales of tickets to events such as “Hamilton” and a concert by the singer Adele.

Its amended complaint added events including October’s Desert Trip festival in California featuring Dylan, McCartney and the Stones; and concerts for bands Metallica and Nine Inch Nails.

The SEC said Meli and Harriton used about $59 million they raised to repay investors, while other sums were spent on casino gambling, jewelry, private school tuition and other items.

— Reuters

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