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Online Defamation & Anonymity

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Thinking of buying your child their own laptop or smart phone? Read this first – a look at whether parents are liable for their kids’ online behavior

A Georgia seventh-grader created a fake Facebook profile that defamed a classmate, according to this Wall Street Journal story.   In middle school fashion (I am not looking forward to parenting through this period), a boy created a fake Facebook profile of a female classmate, used a “Fat Face” app to alter her appearance and … Continue Reading

Texas High Court Rules Improper Photography Law Unconsitutional; Or, Why You Care a Creepy Dude Is Not Guilty

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled in a 8-1 decision yesterday that the “Improper Photography and Visual Recording Act” is facially unconstitutional.  The case involved a guy who allegedly took pictures of kids at a water park.  You can read more here.
Before you say, you are not a creepy person taking pictures of random … Continue Reading

Unmasking the anonymous online critic – first, there is the matter of jurisdiction

On Friday, the Supreme Court of Texas issued a 5-4 decision holding a plaintiff needs to establish jurisdiction over an anonymous blogger before a court will allow pre-suit discovery that would likely unmask the blogger’s identity.  Both the majority and dissenting opinions in In re John Doe a/k/a The Trooper are available here.  It will certainly … Continue Reading

The Supreme Court of Texas Rules Injunctions for Defamation Not Proper and Requires Proof of Damages

On Friday, the Supreme Court of Texas issued two important defamation rulings.  The first, Kinney v. Barnes, held that injunctions to prohibit defamatory speech do not pass constitutional muster.  The second, Burbage v. Burbage Funeral Home, raises the bar on the recovery of compensatory damages.
Injunctions preventing speech are an unconstitutional prior restraint
In Kinney, the plaintiff sought a … Continue Reading

Lawsuits Against Social Media Sites Rarely a Good Idea – This One Probably Isn’t Either

A Houston area woman has sued Facebook asking for $123 million because Facebook was slow to take down a fake a profile created by her ex-boyfriend with pornographic images.
You can see the story here

 
The plaintiff sued Facebook and the ex-boyfriend for negligence, breach of contract, gross negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy … Continue Reading

Website Operator Not Liable for UGC; Also, Sun Rises in the East

Last month, the Sixth Circuit ruled that website operators are not liable for content provided by others (User Generated Content or UGC) because of Section 230 immunity under the Communications Decency Act in the Jones v. Dirty World Entertainment decision.
Based on the history of the CDA, that should be no surprise. However, internet lawyers were … Continue Reading

When Online Behavior Crosses the Line – The Law on Threats, Libel and Just Being Rude

A frequent question we get is what can we do about the online posting about me?  Often times, the answer is not much.  Lawyers can only help when the online conduct crosses the line into a cognizable cause of action.  Figuring that out is the hard part.
The Threatening or Harassing Post
Is there an ex spewing … Continue Reading

Back from the Land of Trial Mode: January Quicklinks

There has not been much activity on the blog because we have been engaged in a long copyright and misappropriation of trade secrets trial.  So, we share with you some of the articles we have been reading, but just haven’t had time to write about:
Bloggers entitled to same protections as journalists under the First Amendment. … Continue Reading

Thankful I didn’t copy images, parody the Beastie Boys, use overbearing TOS or have to stand behind TheDirty

With the short Thanksgiving week, I thought we would touch on a few interesting stories developing over the last couple of weeks.
Photographer gets $1 million+ verdict from AFP and Getty for copied Twitpics
In my three part series on using images from the web for your news stories, we talked about the Morel v. Agence France-Press case. … Continue Reading

Can you use pre-suit discovery to unmask an anonymous blogger in Texas?

Last week, the Supreme Court of Texas heard oral arguments on whether a party can use a pre-suit deposition to identify an anonymous blogger.  The petitioner tried to use a pre-suit subpoena to force Google to identify a blogger that constantly railed on how bad the company and its owner was.   The trial court … Continue Reading