Wow! The globe was abloom with defamation — online and off — this week. From the UN to the Ukraine, slander and libel lawsuits, litigation and regulation took center legal stage.
Defamation Around The World This Week
The United Nations revived the age-old debate about blasphemy (religious defamation) laws. Talk centered around how the proliferation of both the Internet and mobile devices makes it unreasonable for officials to expect countries with free speech traditions to take action against distasteful media that finds itself online.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ son filed a defamation lawsuit against Jonathan Schanzer, a reporter for the Foreign Policy Group, a division of the Washington Post Company. He’s suing for 5 counts of libel related to a tobacco-related article Schanzer wrote that insinuated Abbas was exploiting his dad’s connections for personal profit.
Newspapers over in the Ukraine took a page from the SOPA-protest movement this week. In protest of their country’s attempts to re-criminalize libel, midweek, many of the print media outlets published a front page that only read “Our front page is empty because they want to silence us and take away our right to know the truth.” And like officials in the U.S. caved after the Internet blackout day, so did the officials in the Ukraine.
And in the Philippines, all bytes broke loose this week when the President signed an aggressive cybercrime bill into law. The new regulation effectively makes Internet sex websites illegal, and it also crimilizes online libel. In protest, “Anonymous Philippines” trashed a few government sites.
Personal and Small Business Defamation: Yelp! And The NY Daily News Make News
A dentist in Portland, Oregon lost a Yelp!-focused online defamation lawsuit. When asked how he felt about the verdict, the doctor blamed Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
A man in New York is suing the New York Daily News for publishing his picture as the feature imagine about an allegedly shifty dentist who was brought up on fraud charges. Sounds to me like a clear case of false light.
Celebrity Defamation News: Mayweather, Spears, Travolta and the ICP
In celebrity defamation news, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao settled their defamation squabble, which clears the way for them to get in the ring. Both are handling their own legal costs and its over as quickly as it began. Ms. Britney Spears also found herself dealing with some defamation issues this week. A judge ruled that the X-Factor judge will not have to testify in a defamation lawsuit against she and her mother that was filed by Sam Lufti in 2009. Why? Brit’s still under a conservatorship.
John Travolta, playing the Anti-SLAPP card, won a libel face off with Robert Randolf, author of the salacious tell-all “You’ll Never Spa In This Town Again.” The Insane Clown Posse thrilled the hearts of ‘los and ‘lettes nationwide by filing a lawsuit against the FBI for listing “jugaloos” in the 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment watch list.
Politicians & Defamation: From Italy To Iowa, Elected Officials Were Knee Deep In Slander and Libel
In local government defamation news, an outgoing city manager in Port Richie, Florida filed a defamation lawsuit against a state representative over comments made about her severance package. Deep in the heart of Texas, the mayor of Irving is being sued by a community activist because she allegedly called him a “whore” on a local television news interview. Interestingly enough, the plaintiff in the case isn’t asking for any money, just civility moving forward from the Mayor. Gotta love them Texans.
A New York judge dismissed a $60 million lawsuit against disgraced ex-governor, Elliot Spitzer, that centered around an article on Slate.com, in 2010, entitled, “They Still Don’t Get It.” Meanwhile, in Iowa, Congressman Leonard Boswell filed a defamation lawsuit against former challenger, Ed Fallon. Fallon, an occupy movement activist and daily Internet talk show host, allegedly accused Boswell of trying to bribe him not to run. Boswell says Fallon’s claims are hogwash.