Q2 2014 Quick Links, Part 2 (Consumer Reviews, Defamation & More)

Photo credit: 3D Quick Link Crossword // ShutterStock

Photo credit: 3D Quick Link Crossword // ShutterStock

Consumer Reviews

* In re Margrett A. Skinner (Ga. Sup. Ct. May 19, 2014). Lawyer publicly reprimanded for disclosing client confidential information to rebut the client’s online reviews. See my Forbes post.

* Loftus v. Nazari, 2:10-cv-00279-WOB-JGW (E.D. Ky. May 13, 2014). Another doctor lost a defamation suit over a patient’s online reviews. My updated chart of doctor v. patient lawsuits.

* MarketWatch: The fine print that’s getting online commenters sued

* Neumann v. Liles (Or. Ct. App. March 12, 2014). Google review of wedding venue qualified for Oregon anti-SLAPP protection, but the plaintiffs made their prima facie showing of defamation.

* Young v. Krantz, 2014 WL 2210578 (Tex. Ct. App. May 28, 2014). Angie’s List review protected by Texas’ anti-SLAPP law.

* PG Inn, Inc. v Gatward, 2014 WL 108412 (Cal. App. Ct. Jan. 13, 2014). Yelp and TripAdvisor review about possible mold in a bed-and-breakfast didn’t qualify for anti-SLAPP protection.

Defamation

* Chevaldina v. R.K./FL Management, 2014 WL 443977 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. Feb. 5, 2014):

Angry social media postings are now common. Jilted lovers, jilted tenants, and attention-seeking bloggers spew their anger into fiber-optic cables and cyberspace. But analytically, and legally, these rants are essentially the electronic successors of the pre-blog, solo complainant holding a poster on a public sidewalk in front of an auto dealer that proclaimed, “DON’T BUY HERE! ONLY LEMONS FROM THESE CROOKS!” Existing and prospective customers of the auto dealership considering such a poster made up their minds based on their own experience and research. If and when a hypothetical complainant with the poster walked into the showroom and harangued individual customers, or threatened violence, however, the previously protected opinion crossed the border into the land of trespass, business interference, and amenability to tailored injunctive relief. The same well-developed body of law allows the complaining blogger to complain, with liability for money damages for defamation if the complaints are untruthful and satisfy the elements of that cause of action. Injunctive relief to prohibit such complaints is another matter altogether.

Related (and subsequent) blog post.

* Trout Point Lodge Ltd. v. Handshoe, 2014 NSSC 62. After losing a SPEECH Act case, the plaintiff tried yet again in Canada, this time getting a positive copyright ruling. Prior blog post.

* Kinney v. Barnes, 2014 WL 2811832 (Cal. App. Ct. June 23, 2014): “the movement of the press release to the archive section of BCG’s website did not constitute a republication for statute of limitations purposes.”

Similar ruling: Martin v. Daily News L.P., 2014 WL 3510973 (N.Y. App. Div. July 17, 2014):

Justice Martin points out that the new posting actually reached a new audience, observing that the restored columns included new hyperlinks to social media and networking sites. Moreover, even if defendants initially harbored no serious doubts as to the truth of Louis’s assertions, by the time the columns were re-posted they had to know the substance of Justice Martin’s lawsuit, and could no longer legitimately claim that they were unaware of the inaccuracies. However, we agree with the conclusion of the motion court that the re-posting did not constitute republication under Rinaldi II.

Had the columns remained on the Daily News website as was intended, their presence there three years later would not have justified any additional action. Their inadvertent deletion during a changeover to a new computer content-management system, and their restoration once that inadvertent deletion was discovered, was not geared toward reaching a new audience. The columns were not modified in any substantial way, and their restoration was, as characterized by the motion court, akin to a delayed circulation of the original. Therefore, Justice Martin’s second action, based on the claim of republication, is time-barred.

Related blog post.

* Ars Technica: How a mayor’s quest to unmask a foul-mouthed Twitter user blew up in his face

* David S. Ardia, Freedom of Speech, Defamation, and Injunctions, 55 William & Mary Law Review 1 (2013):

This Article challenges the widely held view that defamation law does not countenance injunctions. In doing so, it presents the first comprehensive analysis of more than two centuries of case law involving injunctions in defamation cases. Reviewing these cases, it draws out the rationales, both constitutional and equitable, for the no-injunction rule. The Article concludes that while courts should be cautious when granting injunctions, a limited form of injunctive relief would be constitutional and consistent with equitable principles if it were limited solely to false statements on matters of private concern that a court has found—after full adjudication—are defamatory. It then describes how such a remedy could be structured so that it would be both effective and compatible with the First Amendment.

Google

* Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Jack, 2014 BCSC 1063 (BC Sup. Ct. June 13, 2014). British Columbia court orders Google US to erase search results + staydown (Google Canada had already removed the search result)

* O’Kroley v. Fastcase Inc., 2014 WL 2881526 (M.D. Tenn. June 25, 2014). Judge adopted the magistrate report, especially in light of the Sixth Circuit’s Jones v. Dirty World opinion: “The Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge that the automated editorial acts of Google in publishing the information which was the search result did not make Google an information content provider and did not take away Google’s statutory immunity from Plaintiff’s claims.”

* European newspapers wondering why Google is sending them less traffic might want to look more closely at the “right to be forgotten.”

* Dowbenko v. Google Inc., 2013 WL 6987174 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 19, 2013). Section 230 says Google isn’t liable for the content of a Blogspot blog:

Plaintiff concedes that Google is an Internet Service Provider, but argues that it has sufficiently alleged that the infringing content originated with Google or its executives. But this allegation is inadequate under Twombly. Plaintiff does not dispute that the content of any particular blogspot.com blog is created by the individual blogger, and nothing in the complaint supports Plaintiff’s allegation that any Google executive was personally responsible for the content of the American Loons Blog. The allegation is simply implausible.

* Darnaa sues YouTube for changing her video’s URL due to alleged pageview inflation, thwarting $1M in promotion. Lessons: never make a big marketing investment in an online address you don’t control, and don’t trust a lawyer with a complex Internet law issue if they use an AOL.com email address.

* WaPo: Google, once disdainful of lobbying, now a master of Washington influence

* WaPo: Google faces new pressure from states to crack down on illegal online drug sales

* Time: How Gmail Happened: The Inside Story of Its Launch 10 Years Ago Today

* AdWeek: A Look Back At Google’s History of Social Media Failures

* Michael Yang, Pinterest’s GC: “Should I leave Google Legal?”

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