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Another Attempt At Using the Courts To Suppress an Online Review

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the it's-true-i-read-it-on-the-internet dept.

The Courts 180

gandhi_2 writes with this excerpt from the SF Chronicle: "A San Francisco chiropractor has sued a local artist over negative reviews published on Yelp, the popular Web site that rates businesses. Christopher Norberg, 26, of San Francisco posted the first review in November 2007 after visiting Steven Biegel at the Advanced Chiropractic Center on Valencia Street. In the six-paragraph write-up, Norberg criticized Biegel's billing practices and said the chiropractor was being dishonest with insurance companies. ...The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a local nonprofit that supports free speech online, is considering helping with Norberg's defense. Matt Zimmerman, an attorney with the group, said Biegel will get far more negative publicity from filing the lawsuit than from a bad review on Yelp. He said the foundation is seeing more and more cases of people trying to use the courts because they're unhappy with postings on the Internet."

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Chiropractors are quacks anyway (5, Insightful)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398011)

I'd trust a veterinarian to treat me before I'd trust one of those fraud artists.

Re:Chiropractors are quacks anyway (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26398017)

Chiropractasy or whatever it is called, should be illegal. Totally snakeoil.

Re:Chiropractors are quacks anyway (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26398043)

You eat horse cock

Re:Chiropractors are quacks anyway (1)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398321)

You eat horse cock

Do you make it the same way as Tiger Penis Soup [everything2.com] ?

Re:Chiropractors are quacks anyway (4, Informative)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398399)

For non-back related things, I'll admit they're frauds. But for someone with back problems, the treatment feels pretty good. I don't know if it's doing anything long term or if it's just a massage paid for by my insurance, but it helps with the pain.

Re:Chiropractors are quacks anyway (5, Informative)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398615)

Quacks or not, the issue isn't with criticism of the chiro's services, but with his billing rates and practices.

But quackery is relevant here, because the doctor should have used a PR person to help him rebut the detractor's claims and used the threat of libel to make Yelp append the rebuttal directly to the criticism so they had to be viewed together. It would have been less costly all around. Better to defuse your detractor as a crackpot/quack than to sue him and give him legitimacy.

Is the doctor within his rights? If the claims made by Norberg actually are false, then he is. Was this the best way to handle things? Nope.

Re:Chiropractors are quacks anyway (4, Informative)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 5 years ago | (#26400347)

I'm not a doctor, but if you have chronic back pain you might want to see a Physiatrist [aapmr.org] instead:

Physiatrists, or rehabilitation physicians, are medical doctors who are nerve, muscle, and bone experts who treat injuries or illnesses that affect how you move. Rehabilitation physicians have completed training in the medical specialty physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R).

They are medical doctors, so your insurance should cover them, and have chiropractor training so they can do more than either alone. The other difference seems to be the approach.

Case in point. My wife injured her neck many years ago. A chiropractor recommended treatment and a "maintenance" plan to keep things "aligned". She declined both. The physiatrist asked for X-rays and medical history a week in advance of the appointment, then examined her for an hour, testing and explaining what was wrong, and then fixed her with one manipulation and an injection. No repeat visits required, unless "you injure yourself again". My wife went back once two years later after she slipped rock climbing.

If you're in the Virginia Beach, VA area I recommend Dr. Lisa Barr.

Disclaimer: Your mileage may vary.

this was modded +5 insightful????? (2, Informative)

McVeigh (145742) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398547)

So much for the open minded people here.

FWIW I've had my back, ankles and knees helped by a good chiropractor. (sports injurys) There are many different schools of chiropractic care.
Pick the right one.
You wouldn't go to a neurosurgeon for a broken arm would you?

Re:this was modded +5 insightful????? (3, Insightful)

theillien2 (1426175) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398679)

So much for the open minded people here.

I figured that out a long time ago when it was found that having an opinion that didn't fall in line with everyone else gave me the same mod as the horse cock guy above.

Re:this was modded +5 insightful????? (1, Insightful)

kno3 (1327725) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398891)

yes, its a shame. I came to slashdot after heaing about its support for open source, gnu, linux, etc... and thinking that they would be open minded. but most people here are pretty elitist, and just as close minded about things as people on the other side of the fence. as a result any forward thinking expressed in the comments is moded out of view so that you cant "infect" other readers with your lateral thinking.

Re:this was modded +5 insightful????? (2, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399185)

but most people are pretty elitist, and close minded

Fixed that for you. ;)

I hate to be cynical, but it does seem to be in human nature to find a bunch of people who share your views, and then sit around looking down on everyone else who's too stupid to see it your way. Makes people feel better about themselves, I guess.

Re:this was modded +5 insightful????? (4, Funny)

kno3 (1327725) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399355)

hey thats true!
I think that we should join together and find more people like us so that we can form a group. Then we should try and change the world by getting everybody else who isn't as intelligent as us to come round to our way of thinking!

Re:this was modded +5 insightful????? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26400359)

hey thats true! I think that we should join together and find more people like us so that we can form a group. Then we should try and change the world by getting everybody else who isn't as intelligent as us to come round to our way of thinking!

OK, but only if we can deride them for just wanting to use a computer for getting some work done, and for not being a total geek by adapting open source software to try and do whatever it is they do with those thousands of closed source windows programs that seem to work so well.

Re:this was modded +5 insightful????? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26399897)

"I hate to be cynical, but it does seem to be in human nature to find a bunch of people who share your views, and then sit around looking down on everyone else who's too stupid to see it your way. Makes people feel better about themselves, I guess."

Unless you could give very little shit about what others think. I say very little, or else why the fuck would I be posting this, and as an AC no less? I don't want to fuck up my excellent karma, which allows me to have fun at others' expense :)

I'll never understand the need to be "liked", "popular", or "known" EVER, until the day I take my last breath. What does it gain you? Money? (not usually) The admiration of people you hate? So fucking what. Respect? Refer to the last point.

All of this shit is just more emotional human garbage. Who needs it?

I propose a test (1)

justthinkit (954982) | more than 5 years ago | (#26400369)

On the topic of chiropractic, here is an alternative treatment (the person who invented it, and those who administer it today are chiros, btw): SAM [just-think-it.com]

I've taken this treatment and have proved it to myself. Tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of others have also. Still, I predict a thorough thrashing in this forum. By people who have not taken it. Who mainly will not even critique the treatment itself but rather myself, or some generalized person "like" me.

Re:this was modded +5 insightful????? (3, Interesting)

VenomPhallus (904463) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399661)

Chiropractic is just as bonkers as homeopathy and other CAMs. Yet somehow they've acquired this veneer of it being more scientific.

It isn't. What they generally keep quiet about is that at the core of their practice is the belief that all problems can be cured by re-aligning bones. Not just problems clearly relating to those bones, but all problems - asthma, for example. They keep quiet about this because it shows that actually their system is based on nonsense.

The British Chiropractic Association recently launched a ill-thought through case against Simon Singh for daring to point this out.

Re:this was modded +5 insightful????? (4, Informative)

GizmoToy (450886) | more than 5 years ago | (#26400365)

This is basically spot-on. My mother worked for a variety of chiropractors in the area as a receptionist, because she had experience with them. She also suffers from pretty severe asthma. Each one wanted her to come off her meds and rely on adjustments to help with the asthma. They "prohibited" their workers from getting flu shots (which are important for asthma sufferers), insisting they be replaced by adjustments. They routinely recommend parents avoid vaccinating their children in any way.

Eventually she got fed up and took a job at a different type of medical facility. The take-away for me was that the majority of chiropractors appear to have little knowledge of medicine, and should not be trusted for anything beyond glorified massages.

Re:this was modded +5 insightful????? (4, Insightful)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399663)

I wouldn't go to a chiropractor either.

Keep in mind that the procedures and guidelines that began chiropractics is correlational not causal observation. It is done in the sense of "well, people like it and it seems to help".

And in that context, yes chiropractics seems to help many people. The issue is that chiropractics is not Medicine. Chiropractors are not required to be medical doctors (although many medical doctors have become chiropractors as well). It also remains a fairly untested field in terms of long term effects and side effects of spinal alignments.

All these paramedical service professionals are blurring the lines for society it seems. The line dividing chiropractors from physiotherapists from doctors seem to be disappearing in peoples minds. Chiropractics basically boils down to a "it feels good, so we do it" area where the number of negative resulting cases is low enough for few to particularly see a need to stop it. If it helps you, great.

Do not equate it as rigorously tested science or medicine though.

Your brain is showing (4, Insightful)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399691)

We are open minded ... if someone could come up with non anecdotal evidence and show the use of clinical trials and other scientific methods in those schools of chiropractic care you are talking about we could simply accept it as plain medicine. Alternative medicine is quackery which sometimes gets things right by accident.

Abandoning the scientific method is abandoning progress ... chiropractic care will never progress, it will remain in the realm of quackery.

Re:Your brain is showing (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26399835)

Actually, there's much to be said for the power of placebos. In that sense, alternative medicine can work quite well. It's also worth distinguishing herbal medicine, which can be lumped into the "alternative" category, but in many cases has the benefit of scientifically proven efficacy. St. John's Wort, for example, is comparable to synthetic antidepressants. Unlike the US, Germany does official classification of herbal remedies, and it's worth taking a look at what they've concluded.

Re:Your brain is showing (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 5 years ago | (#26400035)

I'd rather the money for those placebos go to real medical practitioners, rather than fuelling an industry bent on eroding the public's capability of rational thought. "This is a real medicine and it will help" is better than "those doctors are blinded by science, our philosophy based on traditions you can trust will make you better".

As for herbal medicine, when it's proven to work and manufactured with processes which guarantee consistent concentrations of active ingredients then it's not alternative medicine ... it's simply over the counter drugs with a marketing shtick aimed at new age idiots. In the US it's simply a completely unpredictable broth with a marketing shtick aimed at new age idiots.

Re:this was modded +5 insightful????? (1)

oogoliegoogolie (635356) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399821)

No kidding, the original poster and the people that modded it as +5 insightful are just showing their ignorance. Go pop your pills.

Re:Chiropractors are quacks anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26398897)

Saying chiropractors are quacks is like saying massagers are quacks.

Re:Chiropractors are quacks anyway (3, Interesting)

beadfulthings (975812) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399325)

You have to choose your chiropractor carefully. For sports-type injuries, aching backs and knees, and stiff necks, their treatments can be very effective. (And I seem to remember a credible clinical study to that effect from a few years ago.) The ones to stay away from are the ones who advise you that aligning your back can prevent cancer or who want to give your children adjustments in lieu of their childhood immunizations.

Re:Chiropractors are quacks anyway (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399565)

Chiropractors that are insisting they are solutions to non-musculoskeletal problems fall into my frauds column, but they're quite helpful in their appropriate field.

Not so much (1)

Almahtar (991773) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399937)

I was under constant pain for years. Doctors prescribed pills.

Two visits to a chiropractor for a whopping $80 total I was pain free. Completely. The problem was not alleviated, it was solved.

EFF is nice to have around (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26398069)

This happens all the time.

I personally got a call about a blog post I wrote about a shady SEO company. For those of you who don't know much about search engine optimization, it is very easy to see if some website is horrible from that perspective. The said company's own website wasn't even properly indexed, the *very* basic things such as having proper titles on each page were missing, etc... Well, I posted a short, intended to be humorous entry about it in my blog.

A few days later I got a call from them. They told me to remove the entry, told me they had been talking to their lawyers (and I instantly recognized the company's name as it is rather large, international law firm), named a few labels for crimes, including but not limited to defamation... I tried to ask if they could cite what specific thing I said in my blog about their site was not correct but they avoided answering to that.

Well, to be honest I got a bit scared. Thankfully, I just then happened to be on the year's largest computer festival in my country and there was a stand from EFF one floor below me. I visited there, conversed a while, got somewhat less scared and added an edit to my blog that I have been contacted by said firm in this manner but didn't remove anything. Got some nice amounts of link juice from the blogosphere but the company never returned to the subject.

As unrelated note, I soon found out how the company had even found out about my (rather small reader base, even if largely read in the local SEO scene) blog. When I googled with the company's name, my blog entry was second result even though there had been no optimizing at all for it...

Re:EFF is nice to have around (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398269)

"Dear Mr. _____. We're going to sue you defamation of character, slander, libel, criminal intent to defame, dunking sugar cookies in milk, blah blah blah, yada yada yada, and it will cost you a 100,000 dollars when you lose."

"Go ahead. I don't give a rat's ass what you think."

Re:EFF is nice to have around (5, Interesting)

PhreakOfTime (588141) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398291)

Its amazing how often this kind of thing happens, and I think the only reasonable response to this kind of behavior is to PUBLISH it.

I did some contract work for a company once, and during the course of the work, found out that there were quite a few court cases against them in my local county. I decided to stop any further business dealings with them.

After not being paid for services rendered, I posted a link to our local county courthouse showing all the court cases they were currently involved in.

About 9 months later, I got a letter in the mail from an attorney, claiming all sorts of things like you described; libel, copyright, and CRIMINAL violations. The letter however was addressed to someone else in the phonebook of my small town who had the same last name as myself. I only received it after it had been sent back to the post office numerous times for an incorrect address. It should be pointed out here, that at no point was I trying to hide my identity or make it confusing as to exactly who was posting this court information. At this point it became obvious the level of professionalism I was dealing with that wouldnt even do the most basic fact checking on their accusations. The wording of this letter seemingly bordered on blackmail. To make a long story short, I posted the threatening letter for everyone to read, and havent heard another peep since.

The company who did this was the small real estate company, Caton Commercial [willcounty...tcourt.com] . You can also read the Cease and Desist Letter [demystify.info] they sent.

It honestly amazes me that a business would send such a spurious letter to someone who is already publishing the questionable ethical practices of said company. And yes, now when you search their company name, Caton Commercial [google.com] in a search engine, the second result is the courthouse website listing their cases, and the third is a copy of that letter. I cant imagine that was the intended result they were after, when they first had the idea to intimidate someone for publishing already public court information.

Re:EFF is nice to have around (2, Funny)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398345)

It's the same with the chiropractor not having a clue. How is this libel?"

"Norberg, who has a day job designing furniture, had no complaints about his medical care - only how much he was billed for it. In his original review, he wrote, "I don't think good business means charging people whatever you feel like hoping they'll pay without a fuss."

It's certainly no worse than what we see lawyers try to pull every day, padding their billing hours.

God greeted the lawyer at the pearly gates.

God: "Come on in, you're the oldest person up here."

Lawyer: "How's that? I'm only 43?"

God: "Not according to your hours billed records ..."

... though a more apt comparison might be between chiropractors and scientologists ... birds of a feather.

Re:EFF is nice to have around (1)

Savior_on_a_Stick (971781) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398945)

What about the domain squatting allegations in their letter?

If you were doing those things, I would take their side rather than yours.

Re:EFF is nice to have around (3, Informative)

PhreakOfTime (588141) | more than 5 years ago | (#26400141)

Except it wasn't domain squatting.

As I said, non-payment of services rendered.

Had I gone about purchasing those domains in bad-faith and using them for commercial purposes of my own, or attempted to sell them in an underhanded way, then yes it would have been squatting. Since that time, the domains have expired from my ownership, and some have been purchased by other 'domain-farms' and are just being used to run ads. And, some of them are still to this day unregistered.

This behavior is the reason I stopped working for them, as most of their cases were arbitration cases involving contract disputes. I make no claim as to the legality of what was involved, only that when I discovered this, I ceased doing any business with them based on my own personal decisions.

I was more than a little irritated that the letter demanded me turning over to them for free, and under the threat of criminal prosecution, domains they had not purchased in the first place. And like I stated above, the domains have lapsed out of my ownership, and the ones that havent been 'sniped' by others the second they expired, are STILL sitting available to purchase this very day.

So with the above information, I hope you are more clear on this. I appreciate you using the word 'if' in your question. The fact that some of those domains are now available, and have been for almost a year, shows to me that they were more interested in getting something for nothing rather than any claims of copyright.

The domains are unregistered and available right now, for them to purchase. They have been for almost a year. Do you still think they were interested in the domains?

Re:EFF is nice to have around (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 5 years ago | (#26400325)

Do you have papers showing that they asked you to buy these domains for them?
If not, and their first mention of the domains was after your acquiring them, then, why, yes, you are a domain squatter.

To others reading this: Just because one side of a conflict are shown to be arseholes doesn't mean that the other side is squeaky clean. You often find lowlife on both sides in conflicts.
The enemy of my enemy is not my friend.

Re:EFF is nice to have around (1)

PhreakOfTime (588141) | more than 5 years ago | (#26400353)

To answer your question;
YES

Re:EFF is nice to have around (1)

ceebee (125986) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398507)

It's always nice to ask the SEO companies (who incessantly spam us or phone us to solicit our business) why THEIR name isn't anywhere when Google'd. Their excuses are laughable.

Long history (5, Insightful)

binkless (131541) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398085)

Chiropractors have had many detractors over the years and have a long history of using political manipulation and legal intimidation in response. They pursue a variety of goals including suppression of criticism of their questionable practices and mandating insurance coverage for chiropractic "care." They have generally been successful. That they try to suppress online criticism is a predictable continuation of longstanding behavior

Re:Long history (5, Insightful)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398155)

I'm not going to argue with you one way or the other regarding chiropractors and their methods as I don't have any experience or knowledge of them specifically. I will say however that I think you're missing the point. The issue at hand, alleged libel in a public forum, can be applied to just about any business. It just happens to be a chiropractor in this case.

Re:Long history (4, Insightful)

DancesWithBlowTorch (809750) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398213)

In other words: If someone actually commits libel against you in an internet forum, you are screwed:

If you sue them, you create a lot of headlines (the streisand effect), causing much more damage to your reputation. If you win the case, nobody will care (the media is not interested in some random dude being wrong in a forum). If you lose, it's even worse.

So what else can you do, really? Must be something that doesn't cause negative publicity. You might try adding a positive review to the forum under a pseudonym. But if anyone finds out about this, you have caused even more harm to your reputation.

The takeaway message seems to be: Don't trust anyone on the internet, for there is no penalty for lying on there.

Re:Long history (2, Interesting)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398275)

If you sue them, you create a lot of headlines (the streisand effect), causing much more damage to your reputation. If you win the case, nobody will care (the media is not interested in some random dude being wrong in a forum). If you lose, it's even worse.

This is the point of damages. Slashdot seems to love hyping up the Streisand effect but the more prominent and recognised it becomes, the more courts will take it into account awarding damages for these kinds of libel cases. For small businesses where the lost profits are unlikely to stretch past the $100,000 mark, they've a much higher chance of offsetting losses incurred through a court award, especially if it becomes known their good name has been restored.

Re:Long history (2, Interesting)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398709)

Slashdot seems to love hyping up the Streisand effect but the more prominent and recognised it becomes, the more courts will take it into account awarding damages for these kinds of libel cases.

The courts are likely going to be leery of awarding damages to a defendant who inflicted those damages upon himself. It's not the defendant who causes the extra damage associated with the publicity attached to a libel case, so he's not responsible for it.

Re:Long history (2, Interesting)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398885)

It isn't self inflicted, it's a direct result of pursuing the case as should be expected. By that logic, you would never be able to get back legal expenses either.

Re:Long history (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26400087)

At least in The Netherlands, this is correct. The suing party can never reclaim their courtroom costs as part of the ruling, only the defending party can (and only in the case that they win, of course). This may be some of the reason the USA is so litigation-happy.

Re:Long history (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26398971)

The problem with this is that random dude on the internet will not pay large amounts. Unfortunately, indentured servitude has been removed from society.

Re:Long history (1)

fredmosby (545378) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399221)

You could try to contact the person and figure out why they are upset. People don't usually post bad rewiews for no reason at all. Resorting to threats and lawsuits as a first step doesn't make a whole lot of sense considering that most people can be reasoned with (until you threaten them).

Re:Long history (1)

DancesWithBlowTorch (809750) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399345)

No offence, but you must be new to the internet.

I don't know anything about this particular case, and this discussion is not about this particular person. But you will easily find a lot of unreasonable people on the internet. Because the more unreasonable they are, the louder they tend to voice their anger.

Re:Long history (3, Informative)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399817)

Litigation wasn't the chiropractor's first step. He contacted the poster a couple of weeks later to persuade him to change or remove the post, and tried to resolve the matter for a year before deciding to sue. I know it is unfashionable on /. to read the article but everything I just stated is there :-P

Re:Long history (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26399561)

You have a good point, but I fail to see how "in an internet forum" is actually relevant.

Can't the same thing be said about any kind of libel, no matter where it's published? I am honestly not sure what makes the Internet special here, other than the fact that it's easier than almost anywhere else for anyone to make libellous statements, especially anonymously.

Also, the Streisand effect may work in your favour if you're right: there's no such thing as bad publicity.

People will hear about your business, and those that actually MIGHT become customers - those that live close - may very well hear about the outcome of the case, too, if they read a local newspaper, watch local TV and so on. You might even get new customers this way.

Even if you don't, though, if somebody is genuinely defaming you, you should fight it. It's a matter of good mental hygiene.

Re:Long history (4, Insightful)

aurispector (530273) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398217)

Yup. Accusing someone of illegal activity (in this case insurance fraud) is serious business. If the guy is an asshole he deserves a poor reputation but that doesn't include being called a criminal. This isn't a free speech issue at all. Regardless of your opinion of chiropractors, free speech does not mean you can call someone a criminal unless you can prove it.

Re:Long history (2, Interesting)

binkless (131541) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398441)

It's unfortunate that the article didn't like to the "offending" post, so it's hard to say exactly what's alleged. That a chiropractor would respond harshly to criticism of practices around billing and insurance is hardly surprising though. Generally they're in a difficult spot - many chiropractors claim to cover a wide range of conditions but are only authorized to bill a narrow range of services. They need to retain patients, but can't unless they can bill all their services to insurance. As a result they have a lot of incentive to interpret the services they are authorized for very broadly. Going too far in this direction is billing fraud. The chiropractor's defense in these cases will sound a log like what's in the article - talk about disagreement about billing practices rather than dishonesty. It would be nice to have a link to the actual allegations to see what's going on in this case.

Re:Long history (4, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398925)

This isn't a free speech issue at all.

For any free speech issue on the Internet, there's someone to claim that it isn't one for some lame excuse or another.

free speech does not mean you can call someone a criminal unless you can prove it.

So if someone commits a wrong against me, and I can't muster up enough objective evidence to prove it, I must remain silent about it upon penalty of law? Some free speech.

Here are the statements that are claimed to be libelous:

a) "A friend told be to stop going, cause of Dr. Biegel billed his insurance company funny awhile before."

One should be prevented by law from posting such a vague assertion online?

b) "So I saw the guy for 2 visits, expected a bill for about 125 bucks... So ends up, Biegel billed me for over $500. I called to pay, and he couldn't give me a straight answer as to why the jump in price, we got into an argument..."

Assuming Dr. Biegel did in fact bill the defendant over $500, there's no false statement of fact here. Nor anything that would be defamatory per se even if it were false. "He couldn't give me a straight answer" is a matter of perception.

c) "He called me back to cover his ass, and had reasons as to why he could bill for the extra amount, then tells me he would still write it off because he wanted to keep his word from the previous conversation. One reason he gave me, was that he runs a business and would stick it to insurance companies (even though that drives my premiums up, and makes me wonder who else he sticks it to).

This is an example of an unprovable statement -- an unrecorded phone conversation. Should the defendant be forbidden by law from repeating Dr. Biegel's (alleged) words because he can't prove that Dr. Biegel said them?

d) "The next day I received a voicemail from the receptionist, she told me that she talked to my insurance company and found out that my case settled, and even though it was for an amount less than expected, they felt I owed them $125

It's not clear why Dr. Biegel even thinks this statement is libelous.

e) [I was a bit put off by the fact that] "he wasn't keeping his word anymore".

A bit vague to be the basis of a libel claim.

f) [I don't think good business means charging people whatever you feel hoping they'll pay without a fuss.] "Especially considering that I found a much better, honest, chiropractor."

The first part isn't libelous at all, it's a matter of opinion and the practice it implies the plaintiff engages in isn't illegal. The second part implies the plaintiff _isn't_ honest, which is clearly the defendant's opinion based on the other things that happened.

If this review is held to be libelous, then just about any write-up about a similar dispute can be held to be libelous. Proof isn't always going to be available, and to require that the complaining part have such proof before even making a complaint is definitely a "chilling effect".

Re:Long history (1)

aurispector (530273) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399395)

For any free speech issue on the Internet, there's someone to claim that it isn't one for some lame excuse or another.

Ok, I'll bite - are we talking about me or you?

So if someone commits a wrong against me, and I can't muster up enough objective evidence to prove it, I must remain silent about it upon penalty of law? Some free speech.

Stop trying to pretend that free speech means the right to say anything about anybody anytime and anywhere. Apply your statement to the doctor in question and see where it goes. There's two sides to the story. The whole legal concept of defamation of character exists because defamation can cause real damage, especially to a professional who's practice relies on his reputation. Except in this case the damage isn't penalty of law but loss of income because his practice tanks.

It's very possible that there is no legal basis for a libel claim. I really have no idea - the question of where to draw the line is truly muddy as you have effectively demonstrated. In this case the doctor has already lost because of the bad publicity for his practice, regardless of the truth of the claims. Some free speech.

Re:Long history (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399519)

Stop trying to pretend that free speech means the right to say anything about anybody anytime and anywhere.

Non sequitur, that was not what the part of his message you quoted was doing.

Re:Long history (4, Insightful)

xigxag (167441) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399639)

In this case the lion's share of the "bad publicity" arises because he is bringing this case to court. Otherwise would any of us have even heard of this chiropractor?

In any case, the GP is not asserting that free speech is unfettered. What he seems to be saying is that suppressing freedom of speech should only be done in narrow circumstances. Bad publicity of itself is certainly not a cause to suppress free speech. If it were, then you could never read a bad book or movie review either, papers would be forbidden from publishing the names of alleged criminals, and so on.

And as a matter of law, the burden of proof is on the other side to begin with. It's not for the defendant to dig up proof that he was telling the truth. It's for the plaintiff to prove the defendant was making false statements.

Re:Long history (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#26400467)

Stop trying to pretend that free speech means the right to say anything about anybody anytime and anywhere.

Yep, exactly the sort of statement that comes up in any case where an attempt is being made at suppressing free speech. The upshot of this statement is that free speech is simply a talking point, not something that applies in actual practical cases.

There's two sides to the story.

There's two sides to the original dispute. The libel claim is an attempt to suppress one of them, and penalize that side for even bringing it up.

In this case the doctor has already lost because of the bad publicity for his practice, regardless of the truth of the claims. Some free speech.

Did you think "free speech" meant one could only speak when it was free of consequences?

Re:Long history (1)

ancient_kings (1000970) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398935)

Not if he posted it under his own opinion like this: "I believe Mr. Soandso is a criminal and I think he is a crook. He should be convicted of insurance fraud under my humble opinion.". Any lawyer that even tries to bring this such a libel suit to court will be disbarred and should be. Hell, the lawyer should be locked up and made an example of for trying to prevent freedom of speech.

Re:Long history (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398303)

Correct.

The other business that is suing a blogger is a Dunkin Donuts in Maryland. The blogger said the restaurant was filthy and should probably be shut down by the State inspectors, so the owner sued the blogger.

And on ebay I know a number of salespeople who have tried to sue their buyers for leaving negative feedback. The thing these people don't understand is that the Constitutional Law guarantees free speech and free press. A business cannot lock up your mouth or stop your typing - it's a violation of individual rights & liberty.

Re:Long history (3, Informative)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398351)

The thing these people don't understand is that the Constitutional Law guarantees free speech and free press. A business cannot lock up your mouth or stop your typing - it's a violation of individual rights & liberty.

There is a difference though. Your right to free speech ends when you knowingly make false statements about me in a way that damages my reputation or the reputation of my business. It is one thing to leave negative feedback, but it is another to accuse someone of breaking the law without any proof in a public forum, which is exactly what happened here.

Re:Long history (3, Informative)

binkless (131541) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398947)

Here's a link [sftc.org] to the filings in the case. When I look at the language that's the subject of the complaint, it looks like the kind of rant that goes on in many business disputes without usually going to court - read and judge for yourself. To me, it seems clear that the plaintiff is very touchy about third party payment issues as many chiropractors are and wants to intimidate his former patient into silence. Also, if you look at the history, it's clear that the defendant ignored multiple notifications about the action and had to back down in order to avoid a summary judgement against him - not a good move on his part.

Re:Long history (1)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399271)

Nice link, thanks. Some of the lines on the pages are a little blurred, especially in the section which lists the defendant's online statements, (so much for public records :-P), but informative nonetheless. Too bad this wasn't linked in the summary.

To me, it seems clear that the plaintiff is very touchy about third party payment issues as many chiropractors are and wants to intimidate his former patient into silence.

(IANAL yada yada yada....)

I don't know about intimidation, but reading both the plaintiff's and defendant's statements it sounds like there was a fair amount of confusion regarding the billing. It really sounds like the chiropractor said something flippant about "sticking it the to insurance companies," but it also sounds like the defendant misrepresented themselves later on by claiming to be a potential client (rather than a previous client). All in all due to the fact that neither of them have records of the phone conversation it sounds like a matter of hearsay, except that the defendant is in a worse position due to the public posting they made. Also, like you said the defendant ignored the notices. Either they dragging their feet on responding to the notices or flat out didn't want to play ball. Either way, not the the way you want to conduct yourself when the law is involved.

Re:Long history (4, Interesting)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398453)

There's a difference between SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) and suing someone who has posted claims about you or your business that are patently false. And there's a point at which "opinion" becomes libel. The first thing that doctor's lawyer will ask:

Lawyer: So it was your "opinion" that my client's billing practices were criminal?
Defendant: Yes.
Lawyer: And which particular statute do you believe he was violating?
Defendant: Statute?
Lawyer: Well, if you were going to state an opinion that would be so harmful to someone's reputation, you'd have based it on some sort of research that led you to conclude that his behavior was actually criminal, right? You wouldn't just "pull it out of your ass" so to speak?
Defendant: Well...
Lawyer: Let me rephrase that. Let's say you put some faux fur in an artwork. If one of your clients falsely claimed that artwork contained the fur of baby harp seals that you had clubbed yourself, and that caused other clients to cancel future projects, would you write that off to mere "opinion"?
Defendant: No.
Lawyer: Why not?
Defendant: Because it's a lie.
Lawyer: Why can't it just be his opinion that it's harp seal fur from baby seals whose heads you brutally bashed in?
Defendant: Because it's not!
Lawyer: No further questions, your honor.

Re:Long history (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399253)


I will say however that I think you're missing the point. The issue at hand, alleged libel in a public forum, can be applied to just about any business.

There's lots of issues at hand here. Why do you insist we narrow the focus to just one? I'd say the culture of chiropractors is entirely relevant and part of the story. It's part of the larger context of the story, and is very interesting. Many chiropractors likely feel "repressed", as they're not generally accepted as legitimate practitioners of medicine. That likely leads to some of them being more willing to take action against those they see as "repressing" them.

I'm inclined to agree that a lot of it is just quackery. Years ago a colleague of mine went to a chiropractor, who told him his sons ear infection was because of back miss-alignment, or some such nonsense. Another friend went to a chiropractor, and he had some nonsense advice about how her sons cognitive problems could be "cured" with some nonsense (I forget exactly what is was)

Medical science doesn't always the answers to everything, or at least the answers people want. A large portion of the population has a very hard time accepting this. Much of "alternative medicine" is simply giving people an answer, or an answer better to their liking.

Re:Long history (1)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399727)

There's lots of issues at hand here. Why do you insist we narrow the focus to just one? I'd say the culture of chiropractors is entirely relevant and part of the story.

Except it's not. The defendant didn't say anything regarding the service he received, he posted that he thought the chiropractor was overcharging him, ripping off the insurance companies off, made promises that he didn't keep, and generally conducted his business in a less than trustworthy manner. I would say that you're trying to expand the focus of the issue beyond what it really is.

It's part of the larger context of the story, and is very interesting.

Look, even if the business in question was a "legitimate" medical practice (or any other kind of business) we would still be reading about this. I'm not defending chiropractors in any way here, as I said, I don't know anything about them, but they're still irrelevant to the discussion except for the fact that some people here seem to be fixating on this particular aspect of the case. Chiropractors may very well be quacks, but that is not the issue being presented to the court, and it likely wouldn't be looked upon favorably if it were as the defendant willingly paid for the service.

Re:Long history (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26398187)

Not that I'm calling you out on your claims, but could you point to some links?

I have an interest in quack medicine, but have never heard of chiros using political or legal intimidation on their detractors.

Re:Long history (1, Funny)

Fear the Clam (230933) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399071)

Chiropractors have had many detractors over the years and have a long history of using political manipulation

But that crack from the manipulation is so goooood.

Review or Libel? (5, Insightful)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398199)

There's a big danger in simplifying the issues here. It doesn't seem here that he's suing because it's a bad review, he's suing because he's essentially accusing him of fraud.

If he has proof to back that up, fair enough but to accuse someone of illegal practices like that when you've no proof is libel. It doesn't matter if it's done on a community site or not.

If I was running a business and a disgruntled customer posted a lie about me ("all of his PCs are built in his basement by chained up mexicans!") I would want to have some legal recourse. These kinds of lies can destroy a business, especially those on a site people are likely to visit for information on a business.

Re:Review or Libel? (1)

bigdavex (155746) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398425)

If he has proof to back that up, fair enough but to accuse someone of illegal practices like that when you've no proof is libel. It doesn't matter if it's done on a community site or not.

IANAL, but are you sure about that? Wouldn't the burden of proof generally be on the plaintiff?

Re:Review or Libel? (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398509)

He already has proof; the review and the fact he has hasn't been convicted of the things he's accused of. It would be up to the defendant to show that the review is either factual or there was enough evidence for him to leap to that conclusion fairly.

Re:Review or Libel? (1)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398687)

Wouldn't the burden of proof generally be on the plaintiff?

Not unless the plaintiff is a public figure, in which case the plaintiff would have to prove "actual malice".

In this case, the plaintiff doesn't even need to prove damages because this is defamation "per se", which means the allegations are presumed to cause damage because of their nature. The four categories or "per se" defamation are (i) accusing someone of a crime; (ii) alleging that someone has a foul or loathsome disease; (iii) adversely reflecting on a personâ(TM)s fitness to conduct her business or trade; and (iv) imputing serious sexual misconduct (from Wikipedia). It would seem that the defendants statements certainly fall into category i, and may fall into category iii as well. Unless the defendant can prove the allegations were true, or they were only his opinion (and were presented as opinion), he will almost certainly lose this case, although the damages awarded are at the discretion of the judge.

IANAL, but I have taken a few law classes.

Re:Review or Libel? (1)

ancient_kings (1000970) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399035)

No, the defendent should countersue the lawyer and business. Again, stating an opinion is 100% legal. I read the defendent's online posting and submitted it to the FBI for a possible insurance fraud. This is a clear case against the business if the billing statements are true. See, now the business and lawyer could face 10-30 years in a federal prison for trying to scare someone. What a bunch of idiots, in my humble opinion.... Thank God for the FBI.

Re:Review or Libel? (1)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399125)

Unless the defendant can prove the allegations were true, or they were only his opinion (and were presented as opinion), he will almost certainly lose this case, although the damages awarded are at the discretion of the judge.

I've bolded the important parts for you.

Re:Review or Libel? (1)

Gorobei (127755) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398461)

If only it were that easy. We have thousands of years of common law and practice that tried to balance personal opinions and utterances against defamation campaigns. Then the internet happened: speech that would have been ignored or settled with a duel suddenly rises to the level of publication (in the eyes of the law.)

We are in somewhat uncharted territory here, but perhaps it is good: reputation is important, and having people resolve disputes and moral issues in public is better than doing it in private. Having the courts suppress or punish speech is weak compared with stating your side of the issue in the same forum (assuming your costs to post are similar - a flamewar is cheap, if your oppononent publishes a book defaming you, sue by all means.)

Re:Review or Libel? (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398597)

If he has proof to back that up, fair enough but to accuse someone of illegal practices like that when you've no proof is libel.

No, in the US it's legally safer to accuse someone of illegal practices if you don't do any research. For instance, Rush Limbaugh has been sued for libel several times, but since legal discovery showed that he routinely didn't do any double-checking before he accused people of crimes -- the worse he's had to do was make a retraction and he's never lost a penny for any damage he caused.

In this case, even the parent poster is legally in the clear for pronouncing the reviewer a criminal should he not have any proof. And the same goes for what I've just said, since I didn't do any double-checking on what I've just said (yeah, I've always been lazy like that), and since I live in the great free country of the United States -- I'm legally in the clear for any false statements/accusations/claims I may have gotten wrong.

Re:Review or Libel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26398787)

This is exactly why I don't chain up my Mexicans.

Re:Review or Libel? (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 5 years ago | (#26400119)

You know, this kind of thing used to be on a case by case basis. If someone wrote something in their diary, it pretty much didn't matter. If they wrote it and then published it and started selling it, then it did matter. I think cases like these need to be handled on a case by case basis as well. Does it seem reasonable that all of the above could have happened? Yes it is reasonable that it could have happened. Is legal action being taken against the chiropractor's office? No.

There should be no burden of proof for the defendant. How can you prove what someone said in a conversation, without recording devices or witnesses? I mean, I could whisper in your ear that I wanted to slit your throat and burn your house down, and the police may still come after me for threatening you, but they damn sure aren't going to arrest me for attempted murder/arson if they couldn't find any evidence of me preparing to do so.

Re:Review or Libel? (1)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 5 years ago | (#26400357)

("all of his PCs are built in his basement by chained up mexicans!")

Actually, you'd probably loose a case claiming libel for this statement. Hyperbole is a recognized defense in the US. If the statement is so excessive that it's not reasonable to believe on it's face, then it's not considered libel.

Note that different countries have different rules - notably truth is not an absolute defense in England.

Chiro-QUACK-tic (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26398201)

DO's fought vigilently at the beginning of the century to maintain independence. See "Social Transformation of Medicine" - a pulitzer prize winning book. They too practiced quackery - but also normative medicine. Eventually the AMA relented and accepted them.

ChiroQUACKtics on the other hand would never be acceptable to the AMA since they only believed in the half of the DO world that was magickery, and thus they took another path. Seeing the sheeple wanted magik to solve back pain, they came up with mirrors and smoke and a damn good massage to make things temporarily better and the sheeple cried out for more. So, their pseudoscience was supported by the unwashed masses and they gained popularity.

Seeing as they would never be accepted by the AMA they sought the best alternative: get it approved by CMS for payment by insurance company. A beautiful end around. And it worked. ChiroQUACKtics are paid by insurance companies. And thus in one of the greatest moves by scam artists of all times, the quackery became legitimized. Brilliant indeed from the group of charlatans known as chiroQUACKtics.

Folks - I'm sorry. I know some of you love these guys, but you should get yourself an oriental massage therapist who can give you a happy ending. But oh yeah, that isn't covered by insurance so.... on with the Quackery !
 

How is this not libel? (3, Insightful)

PunditGuy (1073446) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398203)

From TFA, it sounds like he accused the chiropractor of insurance fraud. If he can prove it, no problem. If he can't, then the chiropractor was well within his rights to sue.

Depending on the facts, it may be a bit premature for /. to headline this as an act of suppression.

Re:How is this not libel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26398267)

He said "I don't think good business means charging people whatever you feel like hoping they'll pay without a fuss."

That is not the same as insurance fraud. Second to win in a liable suit you have to prove that the person making the statement is false.

The article and summary say you are wrong. (1)

schon (31600) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398317)

Norberg [...] said the chiropractor was being dishonest with insurance companies.

I'm guessing that the part you quoted (which doesn't mention insurance companies *at all*) isn't the part where he claimed fraud.

Re:The article and summary say you are wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26398341)

That was the only quote from the review. I don't care how the articles chooses to summaries the review.

Re:The article and summary say you are wrong. (1)

davmoo (63521) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398635)

Slashdot is really slow to the story here,and in fact it was settled out of court before the story even made it up.

I'll admit I can't remember what specific crime the writer used, but I read in a number of places that he did indeed accuse the chiropractor of criminal acts. I believe the word "thief" was used several times.

Posting somewhere that "So-and-so chiropractor sucks at his job!" is one thing. But calling him by name and a thief is a textbook example of defamation.

And I'm sure that distinction will be lost on 90 percent of the Slashdot audience, who only see what they think is "OMFG censorship!!!!!!11111oneoneone".

sure is (1, Interesting)

delong (125205) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398207)

Yep, this is defamation. Sucks to be him. The EFF won't get anywhere, you don't have a free speech right to defame a private party. This isn't a situation where a trademark is being used for commentary, or copyrighted material is being cited for criticism and commentary, etc. This guy criticized a private party, in writing (libel), about his professional life and insinuated he was involved in crimes of dishonesty.

I hope the verdict is big.

Re:sure is (1)

moexu (555075) | more than 5 years ago | (#26400009)

Truth is an absolute defense against libel.

Opinions != Libel (3, Insightful)

Rastl (955935) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398227)

It's all in the phrasing. If the review said "Dr. X is billing insurance companies for procedures not performed." then it may be libel since it is being stated as a fact. If the review said "I don't think Dr. X is billing insurance companies correctly." then it is stated as an opinion and therefore less likely to be libel.

Just because the internet affords the illusion of privacy and anonymity doesn't mean that you're completely shielded from consequences to your actions. If you're posting accusations about someone and stating them as facts then you better step up and provide some proof.

A bad review isn't worth trying for the logs to see who posted it. There's no justification for trying to remove someone's opinion. But when they start making accusations of illegal activity then the line has been crossed.

Streisand effect, again! (3, Insightful)

ZorinLynx (31751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398273)

When will companies realize that threatening lawsuits and such will only bring more attention to the very text they don't want people to see?

I wouldn't even have known about this if they hadn't threatened to sue, placing the article in the spotlight.

Jeez. Streisand effect anyone? Why do companies never learn?

Re:Streisand effect, again! (1)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398489)

So what is the answer then? The chiropractor's business has been damaged by these (alleged) statements. Should he just turn the other cheek and hope that the damage doesn't continue? If he doesn't respond to the accusations it could be interpreted by potential clients that the accusations are true. Should he post a response to the review in the same forum or on his own website? Generally speaking it is not a good idea to get into a flamewar with someone who doesn't have anything to lose, especially if you're a business.

The fact of the matter is that if the statements are false the chiropractor is well within his rights to sue for libel. Yes, it certainly is generating more attention than he probably wanted, but at least now he is publicly refuting the claims which is a hell of a lot better than leaving them unanswered.

FAILZORS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26398561)

the system clean I'll have offended 80s, DARPA saw BSD fuckin6 market the most. Look at fly...don't fear and was taken over sse. The number

Nothing to see here. (1)

danwesnor (896499) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398639)

Unless Norberg can prove his charges, this is libel, and he should be sued.

Re:Nothing to see here. (1)

ancient_kings (1000970) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399065)

Why would an individual waste his or her time writing up a phoney post? It's very likely the business did commit some sort of insurance fraud and the FBI should investigate this. Once the FBI is involved, you are looking at some hard federal time.

Re:Nothing to see here. (1)

danwesnor (896499) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399249)

You're new on the internet, aren't you. Maybe the guy got PO'd because his bill was higher than he thought it would be so he decided to get revenge?

"Local Non-Profit" (2, Funny)

SoundGuyNoise (864550) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398721)

I got a bit of kick out of a line in the article. While /. readers nationwide and internationally are more than familiar with the EFF, the article refers to it as a "local non-profit," since that is in fact where they are HQ'd.

Subject (1)

z-j-y (1056250) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399017)

what's the relevance of the customer being an "artist"? in SF everybody is an artist anyway.

mod 0p (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26399033)

Usenet. In 1995, be forgotten in a in the sun. In th@e As one of the may be hurting development models 4.1BSD product,

Free Speech (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399049)

Can i say you ARE a fraud? Not without proof, but i have a right, due to my experience with your services, to tell people i FEEL you are a fraud and you did xyz to me.

Unless we lost our right to free speech that is.

Re:Free Speech (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399677)

You can say fraud, you can say thief, you can say "war criminal" and "ex-nazi baby killer stormtrooper". This is the Internet, friend. You can say anything you want and there is damn little anyone can do about it. And, it is eternal. Meaning it can't be removed from every place there is a copy of it and lots of search engines to help people find it whereever it is hiding.

And you can't remove it from everywhere.

Having no validation, no truthfullness and no way to know anything about the usually semi-anonymous poster gives people the ability to say anything at all. Without any consequences. Which means that that I don't need any proof of anything I choose to say about you, your business or anything at all. And nobody can do anything about it.

That isn't free speech any more than driving 100MPH on the wrong side of the highway is free travel. Both are reckless.

Ed Trice is another example of this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26399127)

Someone who has a history of this is Ed Trice, who for a long time successfully used harassment and lawsuit threats to stop people in the checkers and chess variant community from saying negative things about him or his business operations. Finally, one chess variant online community had enough of him and, while not saying anything negative about him publicly, pointed out they had no involvement with him or his chess variant (called "Gothic Chess").

Later on, he started editing the Wikipedia and annoying the regular editors there. When people discovered the patent to his chess variant expired for non-payment, he did the same kind of harassment on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] . However, this time people did not back down and he made a fool of himself.

Around the same time he upset someone named Ed Labate [labatechess.com] and lost a lawsuit as a result. He tried the same harassment tactics again [rookhouse.com] to stop people talking about this court case, again without success.

Extortion 2.0 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26399267)

There's another yelp situation that was on one of the local legal call in shows. Well reviewed bay area dentist treats patient. Patient fails to pay. Dentist attempts to collect. Patient posts bad review on yelp and threatens even worse reviews unless dentist stops collection activity.

Economic reasoning (1)

mauronr (676299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399375)

Isn't it cheaper to provide a good service instead of keep fighting criticisms?

Journalist? Valid comments? (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399499)

The problem is that once such a review is posted on the Internet, it is pretty much eternal. There is no way to retract it and any further commentary is dependent on the original web site where it is posted. Which may or may not be picked up further on down the line by "aggregators" and "syndicators" of the content.

This pretty much means there is no limit to the damage that can be done. Suing doesn't really work, because even if you win, the review is still there for all to see. You might get it taken down from the original site but that doesn't remove it. You might win a million-dollar judgement against the poster, but it still doesn't change anything. Your business is ruined. Whether or not the posting is true or not.

The fact is, nobody cares if the posting is true. It is immaterial. It is also worth noting that negative comments outweigh positive ones in both quantity and impact. Usually most studies have found the ratio is something like 10:1 in favor of negative comments. The result is all you see are negative comments and all people pay attention to are negative comments.

Honesty and quality of the business have no importance in this at all. It could be the the cleanest most friendly restaurant in town and someone goes there with a bad attitude and writes a negative review somewhere. The truth of the matter is the 99% of the people that have a good experience just aren't motivated enough to write anything at all, anywhere. So all you see are negative reviews and quite possibly unfounded, untrue reviews. So what does the business owner do in a case like that? Simple - fold up and go somewhere else. Because in the world of unretractable, unqualified Internet reviews there is simply no way to win.

Of course, the good news is that most people really don't pay that much attention to these reviews. Not because they are unreliable but because it is too difficult to bring up Internet reviews when selecting a place to eat lunch or go shopping. This is changing with larger screen Internet capable cell phones. This is one area where these phones can really make a difference. Of course, when all you can find are unending negative reviews of restaurants in your area, where exactly are you supposed to have lunch?

Just Type.... (1)

fusellovirus (1386571) | more than 5 years ago | (#26400045)

It seems like the Norberg's comments fall in a rather blurry area between libel and opinion. Rather than taking this to court, generating more bad publicity and awarding only the lawyers, why does the chiropractor simply publish a rebuttal to the review, explaining his side of the story? Yes, I know, one bad review is worth ten good ones etc. etc., but I personally prefer to make a decision based on reading many points of view. Just like you and the other slashdotters that have made it this far down the forum.
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