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Blog Faces Lawsuit Over Reader Comments

CmdrTaco posted more than 9 years ago | from the this-will-get-worse-before-it-gets-better dept.

The Courts 364

Carl Bialik from the WSJ writes "In a legal case being watched closely by bloggers, an Internet company has sued the owner of a blog for comments posted to his site by readers, the Wall Street Journal Online reports. Traffic-Power.com, which sells tools for boosting Web traffic, sued Aaron Wall, age 25, over statements posted in the comments section of Wall's search-engine-optimization blog, SEOBook.com. (Wall also has posted about the case.) 'Legal analysts said the case falls into somewhat murky legal territory, but that Mr. Wall may have some protection from liability under federal law,' WSJ.com says. 'Courts generally have held that the operators of computer message boards and mailing lists cannot be held liable for statements posted by other people. Blogs might be viewed in a similar light, they said.' However, Daniel Perry, a lawyer who has followed the case, says that Wall's case is complicated by his own negative comments about Traffic-Power, which could be seen as a competitor to his site. 'To be candid, he sort of moved into this moving propeller,' Perry said. 'The Internet is not your personal stump to beat up people.'"

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durka durka (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13446710)

SUP WTFUX CREW, FP

Sure, now even less blogs with readership (1)

Neo Minder (231997) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446724)

ALthough not a blog reader myself, other I know do read them daily. There have been reports in the last few years as well about companies going after employee blogers. Now these types of issue start popping up. Blogs the true free press? We shall see. ----- The Neo Minder

Re:Sure, now even less blogs with readership (2, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446763)

It could be worse. In Iraq, Khalid Jarrar [blogspot.com] was recently arrested for simply viewing comments in a blog.

Re:Sure, now even less blogs with readership (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13446810)

Yes it could be worse. We could just let the terrorist go free. I guess liberals like you would love to see that.

Re:Sure, now even less blogs with readership (1)

javamann (410973) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446865)

Spoken like a true 'Anonymous Coward'

Re:Sure, now even less blogs with readership (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13447006)

Spoken like a true 'javamann'.

Power of the pulpit (5, Insightful)

the_rev_matt (239420) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446726)

"The Internet is not your personal stump to beat up people."

Actually, that's one of the greatest strengths of the internet. True freedom of speech.

Re:Power of the pulpit (1, Interesting)

Beatbyte (163694) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446804)

"The Internet is not your personal stump to beat up people."

Actually, that's one of the greatest strengths of the internet. True freedom of speech.


That's the way it was. Unfortunately with the profitability of the Internet as a whole, the U.S. government wants to "own" it and therefore make it follow it's rules... Sadly I don't seeing anyone fighting it.

Re:Power of the pulpit (1, Insightful)

twiddlingbits (707452) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446863)

Mod -2 Uninformed Comment. The US Gov't does NOT own the Internet. And every attempt to regulate content in the USA has been struck down, except that DMCA crap the RIAA uses and I think that is coming. Free Speech has NEVER EVER been 100% free, for example you can't slander/libel someone, you can't yell FIRE in a crowd, etc. There are lots of folks fighting the overly broad restrictions, such as the EFF and the ACLU as well as others.

Re:Power of the pulpit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13446960)

Read his post again. He says "WANTS to own it". From what trends I've noticed as well, I'd have to agree with him. Court rulings are repeatedly trying to push jurisdiction farther than they should.

The Internet was much better before all the commercialism ruined it. Now, any company that sees any negative opinions on their products just start jumping up and down, crying like little babies, and start using the legal system as a stick to beat their enemies with. Suck it up, fix your product, and realise that not everyone is going to like you. Weren't people taught this back in elementary school? It's pathetic.

Re:Power of the pulpit (1)

Drooling Iguana (61479) | more than 9 years ago | (#13447077)

I thought that freedom of speech was one of the US's rules.

(P.S. There's no apostrophe in "its" when it's used to denote posession. The apostrophe should only be used to indicate a contraction of "it is." Just so ya know.

Freedom of speech comes with responsibility. (5, Interesting)

the_raptor (652941) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446931)

Seriously when did people get this idea that you should be able to say whatever you want and never have any consequences? All freedom of speech means is that the Government won't try to stop your (should be political) speech. It doesn't mean you can libel and slander people anonymously consequence free.

Why should you be allowed to go around staring negative rumours about your business competitors? How would you like your boss to lie to a future employer that you got fired for drug abuse or for having kiddie porn?

People want rights but never seem to understand that responsibilities are just as important for the functioning of society.

One of the great problems with the Internet currently is that there are so many anonymous cowards, who troll, spam and lie. There is very little consequence to such actions so people aren't inhibited.

Re:Freedom of speech comes with responsibility. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13447054)

OMG mod down!!!!11
That comment is way to intellegent for slashdot!! It doesn't fit into the slashdot hivemind!

Re:Power of the pulpit (4, Insightful)

ifwm (687373) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446985)

It's not freedom of speech that's the issue here.

It's freedom from the consequences of your speech that is being debated.

Re:Power of the pulpit (1)

kilodelta (843627) | more than 9 years ago | (#13447002)

True freedom of speech is being quashed at every opportunity by those who have a greater financial status.

Of course every once in a while David beats Goliath but on the whole we get squeezed tighter and tighter every day.

This is precisely why I use an alias on any blog I post to.

Re:Power of the pulpit (5, Interesting)

Eil (82413) | more than 9 years ago | (#13447024)


"The Internet is not your personal stump to beat up people."

You mean, if I were to say this:

"Daniel Perry is a two-bit fucktard who plainly doesn't understand what the Internet is all about. He spreads lies, deceit, and only wants to sue people for their hard-earned money while he accepts fat checks from his clients. What a worm, that guy."

That would mean Slashdot might be held liable in a lawsuit, amiright?

Also, if you're not allowed to make negative comments about people on the Internet, then about 98% of all blogs ever written would be in violation of the law.

Re:Power of the pulpit (1)

vain gloria (831093) | more than 9 years ago | (#13447047)

Actually, that's one of the greatest strengths of the internet. True freedom of speech.

That's true freedom of speech proportionate to access, which is often a function of wealth. People on dial-up or using the facilities in their local library have significantly less of this freedom of speech than you or I, as do schoolkids without home access. Those using public facilities may also find that their freedom of speech is curtailed by restrictions placed by the providers of that service. That's without even touching on the inability of those less tech-savvy (sometimes through choice) to fully exercise this same freedom or those living under more restrictive regimes.

The freedom you describe is that of the individual, not an overarching concept or automatic right enjoyed by the entire net community.

Ahem (2, Insightful)

stecoop (759508) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446728)

The Internet is not your personal stump to beat up people

What makes you think your law applies in my country? I know that US law may like to be extended to every reach of the world but those countires own their internet too which would apply to their laws.

Re:Ahem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13446765)

ahem... as far as i can tell, all parites involved are located in the US, so US laws would apply to them. and where does it say the US is trying to enforce internet laws in other countries? looking for something to bitch about are we?

Re:Ahem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13446828)

lol what?

WTO (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446783)

you are right, until you factor in the effect of the WTO treaties..

All they have to do is attach the term ' commerce ' to the case, and the more favorable laws apply .

Re:WTO (2, Interesting)

stecoop (759508) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446950)

All right choose the favorable law in this scenario:

Some guy lives in France that doesn't allow hate speech from the stuff that happened in WWII; the guy reads the hate speech deemed illegal in France posited by someone that lived in Russia and the server resides some place in China.

Ok, so we go after that bad guy and got him shutdown (I don't know which bad it was but it is done).

Now the same guy that lives in Russia has very strict pornography laws. He then reads the web site of the guy that read the hate speech (whom is a museum curator) and it has liberal pictures of nudity deemed art in France. However, in Russia it is pornography (just say). Now whom do we go after? Ok so now we have a guy in Russia and a guy in France incarcerated; soon this launches WWIII due to the mess and the world is doomed - problem solved?

Re:Ahem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13446938)

WHAT?!? Yeah damn US and their crazy notions of freedom of speech! Now did I miss something or is this story about a US company suing a US blog in US court? What is your country? Dumbland?

Re:Ahem (1)

ifwm (687373) | more than 9 years ago | (#13447009)

So you WANT the ability to anonymously lie about people? Even when such lies have very real consequences?

Because I have heard that you like raping three year old boys. And then you eat them.

Re:Ahem (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 9 years ago | (#13447083)

So what country are you from, that it's an anarchist's utopia? I suspect that even in your earthly paradise, there are laws against slander, libel and perjury, and possibly against insider trading and false advertising as well. All of these acts involve speech. And all are illegal in most nations.

hmm... (4, Funny)

justin12345 (846440) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446729)

'The Internet is not your personal stump to beat up people.'

This guy has obviously never been to /.

Two Slugs Battle It Out... (2, Funny)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446731)

So, honestly, two operators in a dirty business go at each other, my personal feeling is I hope they both go down. It's kind of like two porn sites arguing which has the sluttiest bitches...

Re:Two Slugs Battle It Out... (3, Funny)

SeekerDarksteel (896422) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446790)

So, honestly, two operators in a dirty business go at each other, my personal feeling is I hope they both go down. It's kind of like two porn sites arguing which has the sluttiest bitches...

Yeah, when two sites are talking about their respective bitches I too hope they both go down.

Wait, you meant the porn sites, didn't you....nevermind...

Re:Two Slugs Battle It Out... (3, Insightful)

truckaxle (883149) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446901)

Nice analogy but I don't think it fully applies. There is nothing inherently evil about search engine optimization. The search engines are do or die for small e-commerce sites and optimizing your content to get the most notice is something you cannot ignore.

Now spamming link sites to increase your page ranking (ie getting more google votes) can be seen as sleazy. If you do a Google search on any niche product and look at the top google fetches typically will find a sleazy seo behind the scenes providing mass links. I wish google would improve it algorithm to validate these links.

Re:Two Slugs Battle It Out... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13447017)

I'm with you here. Nothing screams 'asshat' like "seo marketing".

Libel or 1st Amendment? (4, Insightful)

emidln (806452) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446732)

Maybe I don't understand, but if this isn't libel then isn't it covered under the 1st amendment's free speech clause?

Re:Libel or 1st Amendment? (1)

Fareq (688769) | more than 9 years ago | (#13447088)

That's the crux of the matter, isn't it...

Trade Secrets and libel/defamation? Or just speech?

Well, somehow I doubt the whole trade-secrets thing... what is their secret "we're evil"?

Re: libel/defamation, the ultimate defense is truth. You can say all the nasty things you want about someone -- so long as they're true -- and it's not defamation or libel [or, rather, since my example said "say," slander].

Dangerous Territory (4, Funny)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446733)

I'd spout off some disparaging comments about lawyers, but am now afraid to ....

Re:Dangerous Territory (4, Funny)

Dibson (723948) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446814)

Don't be afraid. Didn't you read the article? Insult the lawyers and /. will take the blame!

Re:Dangerous Territory (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446969)

Hmmmm....time to punish Taco for all those dupes!

I wondered this as I blasted a business... (5, Insightful)

bgfay (5362) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446737)

I just bought a Scion xA and had to drive forty miles out of my way to do it. The reason was that my local dealership screwed around with me so much that I couldn't stand to buy from them.

I went on the site scionlife.com and in their "Review Dealers" section ripped Romano Scion of Syracuse, NY. I told how they had done me wrong and advised others to never shop there.

Is ScionLife liable? Am I? Is Slashdot liable now that I've put it up here?

And finally, if someone spray paints a swastica on my garage door while I'm out of town and unable to remove it, am I liable for a hate crime?

Re:I wondered this as I blasted a business... (1)

KinkifyTheNation (823618) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446764)

Having a swastika on your garage door isn't a crime.

Re:I wondered this as I blasted a business... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13446816)

In the USA? Don't think so.. yet.

However, in a place like Germany, you could be shackled up and jailed for it. No exaggeration here.

Re:I wondered this as I blasted a business... (2, Informative)

vistic (556838) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446803)

It depends if the swastika is a backwards Nazi one I guess. A normal swastika has been a symbol of good fortune for thousands of years in India.

I think people take slander, libel, and general censorship too seriously. Just remember that freedom of speech/expression of ideas is just an illusion in America. So watch your back.

Re:I wondered this as I blasted a business... (1)

lbmouse (473316) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446883)

I doubt it will every be banned in the US... it is also a very important American Indian symbol [collectorsguide.com] .
 
So, a Native American visting Germany would be arrested for a hate crime if they wear symbols of their heritage? That is stupid.

Re:I wondered this as I blasted a business... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13446953)

Probably depends on the context..

Although, I oppose banning any symbol or form of speech in the first place.

Re:I wondered this as I blasted a business... (1)

DeathFlame (839265) | more than 9 years ago | (#13447030)

That's not stupid. You need to follow the law of the land.

You take your porn to singapore? Your going to get fined/jailed or whatever.

You bring your weed back from Amsterdam? Your going to get arrested in the US.

You say you mostly drive on the highways where the speed limit is 60mph and you want to drive the same on any street (including say a residential street) and the cop still gives you a ticket? Know why? Because laws and rules often have boundaries.

The British press (1)

matt me (850665) | more than 9 years ago | (#13447025)

Possibly the most terrible institution in existence, I think it would almost be worth burning down the forests to stop them printing the Sun.

Re:I wondered this as I blasted a business... (5, Insightful)

kraada (300650) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446807)

Whether or not you actually are liable, you can (and may well) be sued for libel and defamation of character. Even if you're innocent, the question arises: how willing are you to defend yourself? How many lawyers will you hire for how many years just to prove you didn't do it?

The lawsuit isn't bad because the website is going to get convicted it's because if these suits are going to continue popping up websites will not be allowed to let comments be posted due to the cost of proving themselves innocent.

Being a litigious society sucks because of the amount of time and money wasted on lawyers. And that's really 99% of the reason why we should care.

Re:I wondered this as I blasted a business... (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446918)

Whether or not you actually are liable, you can (and may well) be sued for libel and defamation of character. Even if you're innocent, the question arises: how willing are you to defend yourself? How many lawyers will you hire for how many years just to prove you didn't do it?

Depending on your state, you can file a motion under SLAPP laws to protect yourself. If you are innocent of libel/slander, it is not allowable for a larger entity to quash your speech by threatening an expensive legal action.

Re:I wondered this as I blasted a business... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13446808)

Uhmm ... I just went and looked up your review. First, its hardly scathing. Second, if that is your worst experience at a car dealership, you are lucky. I mean, really, your description hardly makes it sound like they are "everything to despise about car dealers."

http://www.scionlife.com/dealers/romano_scion [scionlife.com]

Re:I wondered this as I blasted a business... (1)

bgfay (5362) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446838)

Now that I re-read it, I see that you're probably right. I'm not as good at really flaming someone as I had hoped. Oh well. Still, I did say unkind things about them. Is this so different from what is being described in the article to which these comments are attached?

By the way, Scions are pretty cool. Go get one.

Re:I wondered this as I blasted a business... (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446841)

Is ScionLife liable? Am I? Is Slashdot liable now that I've put it up here?

I think the main question you should be asking is whether or not your comments were factually correct. If you're not BSing, you're not libeling. That doesn't stop you from getting sued, of course, but it hopefully stops them from winning, and helps you to successfully counter-sue for your costs if they're being jerks about it.

And finally, if someone spray paints a swastica on my garage door while I'm out of town and unable to remove it, am I liable for a hate crime?

No. Um, unless you're in one of those countries where not acting to remove someone else's nazi artwork is a crime... and there are some countries with really odd rules about that sort of thing.

Re:I wondered this as I blasted a business... (1)

homer_s (799572) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446910)

And finally, if someone spray paints a swastica on my garage door while I'm out of town and unable to remove it, am I liable for a hate crime?

We have many swastikas in our Hindu temple - nobody has complained.

Re:I wondered this as I blasted a business... (1)

ifwm (687373) | more than 9 years ago | (#13447033)

Truth is an absolute defense, so if what you said is true, you're fine.

"And finally, if someone spray paints a swastica on my garage door while I'm out of town and unable to remove it, am I liable for a hate crime?"

Um, I'm tempted to make a comment about how silly this is, but I think you will realize it yourself given time.

Text of the lawsuit (2, Informative)

notdanielp (244035) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446739)

The lameness filter blocked me, so find it here [seobook.com] .

14. At unknown date or dates, Doe I, alone or in concert with Does I through X, began disseminating Plaintiff's trade secrets to the public, with such information now available on various web sites. Among other things, Defendant or Defendants posted proprietary relating to Plaintiff's solicitation, procedures on publicly accessible areas of the internet.

How dumb. (4, Insightful)

Poromenos1 (830658) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446744)

How can you sue someone for other peoples' comments on his/her blog? Most people don't even read the comments, and are certainly not responsible for their content. That's like suing the phone company for what someone said on the phone.

Re:How dumb. (1)

laughingcoyote (762272) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446840)

I'm inclined to agree. I think it's more that the courts have ruled you actually have the right to anonymity, so they're going after the first guy they -can- identify. I really doubt if it's going to go over, though. Certainly, I'm sure there's mountains of libelous text in Slashdot's archives, but I don't really think you can sue Slashdot for that.

Re:How dumb. (1)

glesga_kiss (596639) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446998)

That's like suing the phone company for what someone said on the phone.

The TV networks got sued/fined over the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson, which is a better analogy. The phone network is private; TV and web are broadcast. Different rules, though the web should have it's own rules. For example, if someone complains about an unreasonable slanderous post, I'd say it would be fair to expect the site owner to investigate it at the very least. If you are the one ultimately in control of the data, you are the only one able to remove it.

Re:How dumb. (1)

rovingeyes (575063) | more than 9 years ago | (#13447060)

Most people don't even read the comments

Thats only on /. ;)

Very interesting legal complications (2, Interesting)

confusion (14388) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446753)

Because it's the Internet, there are so many permuations of where the server is, who owns the site, and who made the comment, and where all those people live. Certainly, a company needs to do what it can to defend it's name, but I've got to believe it's going to get a LOT harder to do so.

Jerry
http://www.cyvin.org/ [cyvin.org]

Was it slander? (2, Insightful)

Transcendent (204992) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446754)

If it wasn't slanderous, then what is the problem? People have the right to present their review of any product, or anything.

All the articles I read about it only say he posted a negative comment about the web-search boosting product. Did he lie about it, or was it a fair comment that he made?

Some people will sue others over even looking at them funny. Overall, though, I have my money on Aaron Wall.

Re:Was it slander? (1)

GryMor (88799) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446824)

It can't be slander, slander is oral. It may be libel, but that hinges on the truth of the statement, something it may be impossible for the blogger to prove as he isn't the one who authored the comment.

Re:Was it slander? (1)

donnyspi (701349) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446878)

The burden of proof should be on the offended party to prove the website owner was the one who posted the comment.

well... (1)

AxemRed (755470) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446756)

It shouldn't matter if he made negative comments too, unless he specifically asked for people to post the defaming comments. It's like, if I made a blog where I complained about the president, it wouldn't be my fault if someone posted a threat against him on my message board.

Comment about the article (1)

ReformedExCon (897248) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446760)

I'm not going to comment much on the actual article. Some bozo is getting sued by a company run by bozos. Your daily dose of hardcore Americana.

But it's absolutely awesome that the Wall Street Journal (of all places!) is submitting articles to Slashdot. Long the sole remaining North American bastion of expert journalism, the WSJ eclipses all other fishwrap in journalistic integrity and quality. Even the venerable New York Times is just a shadow of the nationally distributed Wall Street Journal. If they are taking a direct interest in submitting articles here, I am both impressed and giddy with excitement.

As is commonly joked, I for one welcome our new Wall Street Journal overlords.

WSJ used to carry slashdot feed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13446794)

in the days when slashdot mattered more. Now the feed is gone and no one cares.

Ah, ye children with no memories.

but apparently... (5, Insightful)

kevin lyda (4803) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446762)

...the court systems are there to beat people up with.

Re:but apparently... (1)

ifwm (687373) | more than 9 years ago | (#13447087)

How sad that he's modded funny, when the reality is he's correct.

I despise the litigousness of my country, especially now that so many people consider the court to be a get rich quick opportunity.

Horse pucky (5, Insightful)

fatcatman (800350) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446770)

'The Internet is not your personal stump to beat up people.'

Horse pucky. If you aren't free to share your opinion, then this isn't the United States I thought I lived in. More and more, it seems like the freedom of speech is directly related to how much money you have.

There is a huge difference between blatently attempting to undermine and destroy a reputation, and simply expressing your opinion (negative or otherwise). The ability to express one's opinion, even if said opinion is extremely negative, should be protected speech.

The people filing this lawsuit are nothing more than schoolyard bullies.

Re:Horse pucky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13446820)

freedom of speech is directly related to how much money you have

Agreed. I propose a change in terminology, to "moneydom of speech".

The people filing this lawsuit are nothing more than schoolyard bullies.

You'll be receiving a call from our lawyers regarding this statement. Ta ta!

Re:Horse pucky (4, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446979)

The people filing this lawsuit are nothing more than schoolyard bullies

Unless they're right. In which case they're making sure that another party isn't abusing the first amendment and BSing while presenting nonsense as fact. It could be done by either party, for any reason, and the only issue is whether or not the person posting his comments, or allowing the other comments to stay up on his web site, are truthful.

The truth may indeed be extremely negative, but who cares, as long as it's the truth. But a lot of people post demonstrable lies in blogs, hoping that the search engines will pick up on it, etc. The person being lied about should have recourse, whether large or small.

In this case, how have you made your determination about the truthfullness (and thus, non-libelous) nature of the web content in question? I didn't see enough to go on, so you must know more.

"...the Internet is not your personal..." (1)

cnelzie (451984) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446797)

The person making that quote obviously hasn't spent anytime on Slashdot, TheForum.com (NSFW!) and many other sites that feature extreme brutality in the form of words all over the Internet.

Screw you, buddy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13446893)

What the hell do you know? Those words were asking for it, strutting around the Internet like they own the place.

Its a sad day (3, Insightful)

834r9394557r011 (878286) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446835)

There are tons of people out there saying microsoft blows, and I havn't heard of them getting sued. I think they are just scared because, it must be true. Personally I have never used any of their tools, but I think they should be able to handle a few people badmouthing them. I think this is a gross overreaction on their part. I say to them "MAN UP" and "GROW UP" and maybe make your product better if it has problems, don't sue the guy who wants to save people the headache and money of using said product.

the only reason they sue... (2, Insightful)

kwoff (516741) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446836)

...is for the publicity. If they had simply ignored this blog, who would know about this company whose initials are TP? Now everyone on slashdot, among other web forums, knows. Troll successful.

WTF (4, Funny)

Sheepdot (211478) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446837)

'The Internet is not your personal stump to beat up people.'

I beg to differ [wikipedia.org] .

Hurting someone else's feelings is my spaghetti-god-given right.

Re:WTF (1)

bilbravo (763359) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446920)

May you be touched by his noodley-appendage.

I want to read the comment (1)

SilentReallySilentUs (908879) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446849)

Anyone has the exact content of the comments?

Re:I want to read the comment (1)

JLavezzo (161308) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446923)

No, but reading the Summons, it sounds like they're claiming someone stole their trade secrets and posted them as comments on SEOBook.com.

RUN OSDN RUN!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13446853)

+++no carrier

yes it is (2, Insightful)

suezz (804747) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446859)

""To be candid, he sort of moved into this moving propeller," said Mr. Perry, a former Orange County judge. He said courts would likely focus on how Mr. Wall responded to requests to remove material from his site, and Mr. Wall's criticism of Traffic-Power.com. "The Internet is not your personal stump to beat up people.""

wrong try again - it called freedom of speech -

like I can say microsoft sucks and is a convicted monopolists that uses strongarm tactics to undermine the open standards in the industry.

I also can say Linux rocks.

since when are we going to sensor what people say on the internet. I tell people all day that microsoft sucks - so you are telling me I can get sued for that. Can we all say Back in the USSR. There I knew you could.

Re:yes it is (1)

DeathFlame (839265) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446946)

You can say whatever you want, if it's an opinion.

You can't say "Bill Gates rapes little boys and girls"

You CAN say "I think Bill Gates might rape little boys and girls"

I think.

Re:yes it is (1)

DeathFlame (839265) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446992)

Seems I was right for a few years (1974-1990), but then a new case in 1990 set a standard of being able to prove the "opinion" false for there to be a libel suit.

In other words, as it applies to the case posted above, if Traffic-Power.com can prove what was said on the blog is false, then there's a libel suit there.

That of course doesn't explain WHO would be at fault.

Huh? (3, Insightful)

TheAwfulTruth (325623) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446861)

"The Internet is not your personal stump to beat up people"

It isn't?

Last I heard people were free to express an opinion, even one that is "wrong". :)

Well sure, spreading lies and actively defacing or hurting an individual should be frowned upon, but bad-mouthing a company or a competitor you don't like? Hello? Slashdot anyone? Yes, the editors get involved in this too. Slashdot is as much of a bash fest as it is a news and informative opinion medium.

If merely bad mouthing a company that you don't like is not legal, Slashdot would have been sued out of existance long ago! Half the comments made about companies we don't like here are in fact complete nonsense and out-right lies.

If cases like this hold up, places like Slashdot don't have much of a future. As much as I hate the large amount of truly idiodic comments that cross this site, I don't want to see it taken down by corporate lawyers and I sure as hell don't want to feel like every word I say, interpreted in any number of ways by any number of people might suddenly land me in jail. :(

Re:Huh? (1)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446944)

The reason Slashdot hasn't been sued (successfully, anyhow) is because there is a large company behind them that would pay for lawyers. Anyone knows they would not just fold and take down the site. Lawyers know that small site operators can be intimidated by a legal letter and just take their site down. That is what they are hoping for.

If you run a website that is the slightest bit controversial, you had better be prepared to deal with legal threats. Otherwise, you might as well just save yourself the trouble and shut down. Not saying that's the way it should be, but that's the way it is in the United States and just about everywhere else for that matter.

Yes it is a personal stump to beat on people (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13446862)

And Daniel Perry can only have an orgasm if he kills a dog.

Free Speech Ain't Free (2, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446884)

Freedom of Speech is not free. It's costs are measured by the expenses of defending it.

"God bless the child that's got his own" freedom.. (2, Insightful)

scotty777 (681923) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446900)

Freedom of speech and press once needed the protection of law. Now we have it because of the Internet.

Billie Holiday & Arthur Herzog Jr said it best:

Mama may have, papa may have
But God bless the child that's got his own
That's got his own
He just worry 'bout nothin'
Cause he's got his own

I don't get it (5, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446902)

Everything I know about IP I learned on slashdot, but...

(Sorry, I've always wanted to say that. Actually, most of what I know about IP was learned while helping my SO study for her IP class in her MBA program)

Let me get the facts straight, as the article seemed a little light on details. Some guy, in the US, posts factual information or personal opinion on his weblog, and allows others to do so as well. These include unkind words about a company who makes a product or service which may compete with a product or service with which the author is financially involved. (try and parse that one)

A Trade Secret, traditionally, is something so necessary to your core business and so valuable that you believe that keeping it a secret is more likely to make you money than patenting it, or it is unpatentable. Telling the world a trade secret is only unlawful if you are contractually bound not to tell, or if you came by the information through theft or other nefarious means. Once a trade secret is no longer secret, you have no protection (hence the incentive for patenting and licensing).

So, unless this guy stole the information, or is under a nondisclosure agreement, this looks an awful lot like free speech. The others who posted in his site may have written unkind things as well, but the comments are (I assume) clearly delineated as visitor comments, and not the writings of the author. I think you can go pretty far toward slander without getting into trouble that way.

I'm wondering why this is even an issue, unless its just punishement through lawyer fees, regardelss of the outcome.

Defense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13446913)

I run a message board and I have been threatened by companies in the past to remove message posts by my users. Could someone link me to court decisions that support a message board owners rights so I can prevent bullying in the future?

The Law is Not So "Murky" Here: See CDA sec. 230 (5, Informative)

Froomkin (18607) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446932)

The Communications Decency Act, sec. 230(c)(1) says,

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.
And, in sect. 230 (f)(3),
"The term ''information content provider'' means any person or entity that is responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or development of information provided through the Internet or any other interactive computer service.
Why a blog with comments would be treated differently from, say, a BBS or a chat room escapes me. And I teach this stuff for a living. So much for the defamation claims.

The trade secret claim is a little harder. It's probably the case that Congress didn't have trade secrets in mind when it wrote sec. 230. On the other hand, if you read the full text [findlaw.com] of sec. 230 you will see that Congress intended fairly broad protection; in sec. 230(f)(3) it certainly wrote in very broad terms. In law there are few certainties until after a court rules, but I think the balance here points towards a finding of non-liability both on CDA grounds and traditional trade secret grounds (where innocent receivers of information, and especially journalists who receive information, are not usually liable).

So whats to prevent me... (2, Funny)

AviLazar (741826) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446942)

from posting on someone's forum or blog, who I don't like, and hope they get sued.

ALright, with luck I can post as an AC on /., saying how bad a big company is, and have them sue CmdrTaco :) W000T!!! CmdrTaco I want my mod points or else!

This just shows how stupid courts can get, and I swear, judges should really just smack some people around.

really? (1)

lordsid (629982) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446947)

"To be candid, he sort of moved into this moving propeller,' Perry said. 'The Internet is not your personal stump to beat up people.'"

It's not?

Exactly (3, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446948)

"Traffic-Power.com, which sells tools for boosting Web traffic, sued Aaron Wall, age 25, over statements posted in the comments section of Wall's search-engine-optimization blog, SEOBook.com" (emphasis mine)

Number one tool for boosting web traffic: publicity. Hence, lawsuit.

YUO FAIL IT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13446949)

So Which Is It? (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 9 years ago | (#13446966)

Traffic-Power.com said in the suit that confidential information about the company has been published on the blog, and it accused Mr. Wall of publishing "false and defamatory information," but it didn't identify any of the material in question.

So which is it? Is it accurate confidential information, or is it false, meaning that it doesn't spill company secrets? Judicial estoppal says you can't argue both sides of a case.

And while we're at it, just what makes information "confidential". Can you own an idea simply by claiming it's your confiddential information or trade secret? What has happened to patients and copyrights?

lol @ the search engine spammers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13447013)


because spammers are what "search engine optimization experts" are

fighting amongst each other about who gets to eat the crap that fell from the table

lets hope they both sue each other into oblivion

Arrogant blog title, almost a 'It wasnt me!' (1)

tod_miller (792541) | more than 9 years ago | (#13447015)

Timely Warnings...Blogging Can Get You Sued!

No, blogging cannot get you sued, nor can owning and firing a gun.

Who you point you blog or gun at, and where you aim, that can in general cause various reprocussions.

Now stop hiding behind shit words, and face up to this properly, and for those who start talking about freedom of speech and Internet, you are playing the wrong game.

This should be tried as any other case, imagine if it was a reply in a newspaper (giving too much credit to anything that is a 'blog' *spit*). Or someone calling into a radio show. (the aspects of competition may cloud it, IANAL [as if they wasn't self evident]).

Cluestick (0)

jdavidb (449077) | more than 9 years ago | (#13447026)

Mr. Wall may have some protection from liability under federal law

You mean like the First Amendment?

(Or does he have to pull out the Second?)

The Internet is not your personal stump to beat up people.

Thankfully he didn't beat up anybody at all! Not a single person has been beaten, not with clubs, fists, or any other method. All the guy did, if he did anything, was say something. And actually it was apparently somebody else who did it.

I'm sick and tired of government being used as a weapon for one group of citizens to harass another group on the basis of doing something which is supposed to be our right to do anyway in a free country.

If I want to say your search engine optimization company sucks, then that's my right in a free country. And actually every search engine optimization company sucks. So you guys who are upset that I said that can just go get bent.

Well, well, well (3, Funny)

tetrode (32267) | more than 9 years ago | (#13447042)

This trafficy-power seems to have a nice web site.

Very decent.

Look! there is even a mailinglist I can subscribe to. Quick let's do it before someone else does it. ... fill in the e-mail address and clicks on subscribe ...

Hmm, what do I get for a page:


http://65.41.209.68/~lisa/?type=s [65.41.209.68]

File not found!

The URL you have loaded has not been found on this server.

Please alert the system administrator if you believe you have reached this in error.


What a losers

Uh? (0, Redundant)

glwtta (532858) | more than 9 years ago | (#13447043)

'The Internet is not your personal stump to beat up people.'

Well, what the fuck is it then? If it's no longer that, it must've changed rather recently, I for example haven't heard about that change yet.

TrafficPower Sucks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13447055)

Someone had to try it right. Will the sue /. now?

Sorry I had to be anonymouse for this :-(

Competitor Bashing? (1)

killercoder (874746) | more than 9 years ago | (#13447068)

Would we feel better if this was a SCO Newsgroup (with employee's of SCO) bashing IBM or Linus? Or if it was Microsoft Newsgroup bashing Google?

How about if they lie? Spread false rumours?

Seems pretty open and shut to me - slander pure and simple.
The owner of the site was trying to portray himself as a impartial blogger about the industry - instead he is a shill for his own company. He started rumours, he lied, he slandered, he fed the fires of inaccuracy against his competitor.
He will lose, and it won't impact a bloggers rights. Be honest, post the truth, and your fine. Slander someone - and you will sued.
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