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Online Defamation & Anonymity

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Texas Anti-SLAPP Law: The Expanding Scope of the Texas Citizen’s Participation Act – Part 4 – A decision in Schlumberger, sort of

Go to Part 3 – The Schlumberger case and employment disputes
Go to Part 2 – In Practice
Go to Part 1 – The basics of the Texas Anti-SLAPP law
Since we published Part 3 that discussed the details of an interesting case here in Houston, Schlumberger v. Rutherford, the First Court of Appeals issued its opinion on Tuesday. … Continue Reading

Texas Anti-SLAPP Law: The Expanding Scope of the Texas Citizen’s Participation Act – Part 2

Part 2 – In Practice
Go to Part 1 – The basics of the Texas Anti-SLAPP law.
The exercise of the right to free speech on matters of public concern
             It is easy to see how this applies to your straightforward defamation case assuming the defendant engaged in the “exercise of the … Continue Reading

Texas eMediaLaw Legislative Update: 2015

It’s Spring in Texas which means one of two things – the bluebonnets are out and in odd years, our legislature is back at work.  One makes me grateful to be in Texas and the other only meets every other year.  Here are a few bills we are watching this session:
Service of Process Via Social Media- … Continue Reading

5 Most Popular eMediaLaw Posts of 2014

5.  Using Images Without Permission is No Monkey Business
From the Wikimedia Commons website
This was one of the more interesting stories of the year – does the photographer who set up everything to allow for a monkey to take a selfie own the copyright to that selfie?  This year we learned that no, the photographer does … Continue Reading

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
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvJzYGu548o
 
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