November 07, 2008
Rip-off Report Back in Court
By Eric Goldman
It's been a few months since I've blogged on new Rip-off Report litigation. For many companies, a blog hiatus might signal good news, but in Rip-off Report's situation, it merely reflects that I've been falling behind in tracking all of the new lawsuits. I don't blog all of their cases, but two relatively new lawsuits caught my attention:
Certain Approval Programs v. Xcentric Ventures, 2:08-cv-01608-MHB (D. Ariz. complaint filed Aug. 29, 2008).
Among the plaintiff's allegations are that automatically putting the words "Rip-off Report" into a user report page's title tag is defamatory and not covered by 230. The complaint has some useful screen shots depicting how Rip-off Report works.
Xcentric Ventures, L.L.C. v. Opinion Corp. dba Pissed Consumer, 2:08-cv-01841-JAT (D. Ariz. complaint filed Oct. 7, 2008).
Rip-off Report is on the plaintiff's side (again), this time suing a putative competitor and its web host for copyright and trademark infringement. Among the interesting tidbits:
(1) Rip-off Report successfully sent three DMCA 512(c)(3) takedown notices to the web host but is suing the web host anyway for failing to terminate the hosting relationship.
(2) if Rip-off Report has ownership or an exclusive license to the user-supplied reports sufficient to have standing to sue, would this alter its ability to disclaim responsibility for the content of the reports? I think the answer should be "no"--see Schneider v. Amazon and Blumenthal v. Drudge--but exclusive control over user content for copyright enforcement purposes but without concomitant responsibility for other purposes will strike most people as counter-intuitive.
(3) the putative competitor allegedly infringed the Rip-off Report's trademarks by creating and using the URL "http://rip-off-report.pissedconsumer.com" and putting "Rip-off Report" in the site metatags. Hmm...does Rip-off Report really want to establish the precedent that these activities infringe???
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