AOL sued for allowing harrassing internet postings...


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Marty Hayes
January 13, 2006, 01:47 PM
http://www.courttv.com/news/2006/0112/chatroom_suit_ctv.html

In a flame war a month or so, I made the comment about forum owners such as THR being sued for allowing defamatory posts on their forums. This particular case involves a chat room, not a forum, but the legal arguments should be similar. While I also believe that this particular case is a looser, it should give forum owners and posters pause to think. Even if AOL wins, it still costs $$$ for attorneys fees.

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Old Dog
January 13, 2006, 02:25 PM
It will now be interesting to see if the passage of HR 3402 (now Public Law 109-162) with Section 113, making illegal the posting of annoying or harassing remarks on the internet not under one's real name, will facilitate the filings of more web-based lawsuits in the future. As the one attorney in the story commented, "The internet is such a young medium ... "

It was only a matter of time that civil lawsuits based on internet postings occurred ... We live in the most litigious society in the world; it's surprising it's only begun now ...

merk
January 13, 2006, 02:29 PM
Wow, I guess people forget what that big X in the top right part of the window is for. And its surprising how old they were in those stories. I would expect someones mommy to do that, but not a 30 year old man.

Rockrivr1
January 13, 2006, 02:38 PM
That's it "old" man. If you can't play nice your grounded with no internet priviledges!!!! Now apologize to the other old men and next time try to get along. :p


Are you kidding me? Some people just have WAY to much time on their hands. :scrutiny:

gc70
January 13, 2006, 02:51 PM
Morons float to the surface of the sea of humanity on a regular basis.

There... sue me!

TarpleyG
January 13, 2006, 02:59 PM
This is akin to someone suing BellSouth because he got a harassing phone call from someone and simply refused to hang up. These "lawsuits" are really getting out of control. Everybody is looking for a payday and we all end up paying the price for it in the end. Wanna sue somebody??? Sue the jack@ss that harassed you, not AOL. AOL didn't do anything wrong.

Greg

El Tejon
January 13, 2006, 03:03 PM
Tarp, yeah, but the moron doing the defaming has shallow pockets!:D

sm
January 13, 2006, 03:07 PM
Does this mean no more drink coasters and targets free at the checkout counter?
:p

agricola
January 13, 2006, 04:23 PM
That is the most pathetic thing I have heard since the "McDonalds made me fat" lawsuit.

XLMiguel
January 13, 2006, 07:56 PM
Somebody really, really, really, REALLY, needs to get a life. I guess he's of the same ilk that can't ell reality from TV, or thinks that the internet is somehow connected to "real life". Bleah.

It's scary, though, that someone could actually file suit for such foolishness. Double bleah. [cranial/rectal inversion smiley here]

Bartholomew Roberts
January 13, 2006, 08:43 PM
http://www.courttv.com/news/2006/0112/chatroom_suit_ctv.html

In a flame war a month or so, I made the comment about forum owners such as THR being sued for allowing defamatory posts on their forums. This particular case involves a chat room, not a forum, but the legal arguments should be similar. While I also believe that this particular case is a looser, it should give forum owners and posters pause to think.

Why should it give them pause? Anybody can sue for anything in America, even if (as all the outside lawyers in this case agreed) it is patently obvious they will lose. In fact, I'd be willing to bet this case doesn't survive a motion for summary judgment.

You acknowledge the case is a loser and won't go anywhere. So why should it give us pause? If somebody is willing to spend their own money to sue you in a sure loser of a case; exactly what are you going to do to stop them? Surely you aren't suggesting that people refrain from speaking their mind merely because there is a chance somebody with more money than sense will take offense and sue them?

KriegHund
January 13, 2006, 08:47 PM
Cripes, we cant offend people anymore?

I dont cuss or say the "G" word on this forum cause if i did, i would be banned.
That fine with me- its a private forum.

If, however, i OFFEND someone, and they sue me for it, they can frack off, because
A) They dont own the forum
B) As long as it isnt libel...

Turkey Creek
January 13, 2006, 10:30 PM
Pretty clever scam to allow legalized extortion- :cuss:

Standing Wolf
January 13, 2006, 10:55 PM
So many assault lawyers! So few opportunities to get rich quick!

XLMiguel
January 13, 2006, 11:25 PM
KreigHund, you fergot to include the obvious, i.e.'the truth is a defense'. You know, just in case -:evil:

Marty Hayes
January 14, 2006, 12:43 AM
Why should it give them pause? Anybody can sue for anything in America, even if (as all the outside lawyers in this case agreed) it is patently obvious they will lose. In fact, I'd be willing to bet this case doesn't survive a motion for summary judgment.

You acknowledge the case is a loser and won't go anywhere. So why should it give us pause? If somebody is willing to spend their own money to sue you in a sure loser of a case; exactly what are you going to do to stop them? Surely you aren't suggesting that people refrain from speaking their mind merely because there is a chance somebody with more money than sense will take offense and sue them?

It should give those posters who like to defame and harrass others pause, along with those creating forums where defamation and harrassment occur pause IF they alllow it to happen, that's all.

Not saying forums shouldn't exist, I actually own one myself, (www.firearmsacademyonline.com, but I take reasonable precaustions to insure that disreputable conduct does not occur.

Even looser lawsuits cost a bunch of money to defend, (I know from first hand experience). Anyone willing to guess how much AOl has spent in attorneys fees to defend this? Now, they make bunches of money and accept the risk, but how much revenue does the average forum like THR bring in?

Justin
January 14, 2006, 12:56 AM
Not much.

We're not commercially supported, and upgrades to the equipment are paid for through generous donations from the members.

Why, are you trying to size up a target? :neener:

insurgent
January 14, 2006, 12:58 AM
That is the most pathetic thing I have heard since the "McDonalds made me fat" lawsuit.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-briefs13.6jan13,0,5868561.story?coll=la-headlines-nation

Now is it??

GigaBuist
January 14, 2006, 01:44 AM
It will now be interesting to see if the passage of HR 3402 (now Public Law 109-162) with Section 113, making illegal the posting of annoying or harassing remarks on the internet not under one's real name

From what I gather about the just ammened law you must mean that AOL chat rooms are NOT an "interactive computer system." If so... well, I'd be real giddy to see how you work that out.

Marty Hayes
January 14, 2006, 01:47 AM
Not much.

We're not commercially supported, and upgrades to the equipment are paid for through generous donations from the members.

Why, are you trying to size up a target? :neener:

While I know you are just kidding, the fact is, that I am much more tuned into avoiding lawsuits than creating them.

Justin
January 14, 2006, 01:57 AM
Couldn't this possibly have a chilling effect on freedom of expression?

Bartholomew Roberts
January 14, 2006, 11:27 AM
It should give those posters who like to defame and harrass others pause, along with those creating forums where defamation and harrassment occur pause IF they alllow it to happen, that's all.

Personally, I have always held a low opinion of those whose only retort to "defamation" is to threaten a lawyer. I generally figure that if they were truly being defamed they could just tell us the truth and let people decide for themselves. When they try to silence someone through intimidation, it gives a lot more credence to the initial accusation, whether true or not.

Even looser lawsuits cost a bunch of money to defend, (I know from first hand experience). Anyone willing to guess how much AOl has spent in attorneys fees to defend this? Now, they make bunches of money and accept the risk, but how much revenue does the average forum like THR bring in?

Well, if you want to live your life in fear of being sued, that is your choice. I am not modifying my behavior, especially when that behavior is protected by law, just because some bully doesn't like what I am saying.

I think you also miss the whole revenue point behind this... obviously corporations like AOL are often prey in these suits because corporations are more concerned about the bottom line. They are more likely to settle a suit they know they will win because it is cheaper to settle than exercise their rights. This is why they get targeted to begin with.

Internet forums like THR have no revenue to give up even if they were inclined to settle. So unless you know of an attorney out there holding a "Will work for server" placard, I don't see much threat to the smaller Internet forums.

Besides, with the proposed changes to federal rules of civil procedure and a reversion to the earlier Rule 11 sanctions, suits like this one will soon become more expensive to the people bringing them than to the people defending against them...

pax
January 14, 2006, 12:39 PM
Libel has always been against the law. If the libel laws have a chilling effect on speech, I sure as heck have never noticed it.

Such laws do, however, give plenty of opportunity for bullies to bluster and threaten.

pax

Marty Hayes
January 14, 2006, 01:25 PM
[QUOTE=Bartholomew Roberts]
Well, if you want to live your life in fear of being sued, that is your choice. I am not modifying my behavior, especially when that behavior is protected by law, just because some bully doesn't like what I am saying.QUOTE]

I don't see any reason why you should. I have never seen an offensive post by you, Mr. Roberts. I don't live in fear of being sued, if I did, I surely wouldn't do what I do for a living. But, if given an opporunity to mitigate the likelyhood of such, I will take the reasonable approach. Kind of like packing a gun.

Bartholomew Roberts
January 14, 2006, 01:49 PM
I don't see any reason why you should. I have never seen an offensive post by you, Mr. Roberts. I don't live in fear of being sued, if I did, I surely wouldn't do what I do for a living. But, if given an opporunity to mitigate the likelyhood of such, I will take the reasonable approach. Kind of like packing a gun.

Well you seemed to be advocating not saying anything that might offend someone enough to sue you. In the case you provide for thought, the person was not defamed at all and the case for harassment is weak at best. Yet despite the weakness of the case and the opinion of several lawyers that work in that field that it will be DOA, you suggest that it would be better to act in a way that would avoid the lawsuit altogether.

If you give up your legal rights because you fear you might be sued (even though you would easily win), then aren't you just encouraging people to use threats of lawsuits to silence speech they disagree with? At what point would you rather speak your mind and run the risk of being sued?

You see, I am confused. You operate a forum yourself - this automatically increases the likelihood you may be sued. Obviously you feel there is some point where free speech is more important than legal risk. Yet here you seem to be counseling that it is better to say nothing at all rather than risk having even an unjustified lawsuit thrown at you. So what do you plan to do when someone at your forum threatens you with a lawsuit unless you remove some post they deem offensive?

Marty Hayes
January 15, 2006, 12:00 AM
Mr. Roberts:

Go back and read my words critically, you will realize that I advocate none of what you allege. When this starts occuring, it's time to leave it. I'm out of this one...

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