Monthly Archives: February 2014

Yelp Defamation Update: Lobbyist, Anonymous Posters and Dual Libel

yelp defamation lawyer
It’s time for a Yelp defamation update.

Yelp Defamation Lobbyist Now On The Hill: Online Review Company Hires A Lobbyist To Plead Their Libel Case On Capitol Hill

While Yelp can serve as an effective, low-cost marketing tool for businesses, it can also be a hot-bed of defamation. Not only do business competitors post damaging reviews on nemesis’ pages, but oftentimes, disgruntled customers take their aggression out via Yelp! And truth be told, some people mess with pages just for the sport of it.

As a result of all the Yelp defamation, the site spends a lot of resources dealing with online libel cases birthed on their platform. So, what do profitable corporations do when they’re in doubt? Why, hire a lobbyist, of course!

Yelp enlisted the help of Laurent Crenshaw. He registered his lobbyist papers at the end of 2013 – and according to records, it appears he will be concentrating on patent reform and online libel issues.

What are Crenshaw’s credentials? A former legislative director for Darrell Issa, it’s a safe guess that he already has the right ties. And since California is one of the most tech-friendly states, Crenshaw is more than likely an expert on relevant issues.

Courts Rules For Plaintiff In Yelp Defamation Case; Website Must Reveal Info About Anonymous Posters

A landmark Yelp defamation case recently made news in Virginia. In short, a business owner successfully compelled the court to make Yelp hand over identifying information about 7 anonymous Yelp users whom he thinks committed an egregious act of defamation via the online review platform.

Though a lower court disagreed, Hadeed’s team was able to convince the appeals court judges that, in a defamation lawsuit against the anonymous posters, their client would be able to prove that the would-be defendants had never been Hadeed Carpet customers. Cleverly, during the hearing, lawyers for the plaintiff successfully reasoned that a single individual may be responsible for all of the online criticism since it’s not uncommon for one person to have multiple IP addresses (e.g., phone, desktop, laptop, tablet, et cetera).

Yelp was not pleased with the appeals court’s ruling. A spokesperson for the company explained:

 “We are disappointed that the Virginia Court of Appeals has issued a ruling that fails to adequately protect free speech rights on the internet, and which allows businesses to seek personal details about website users — without any evidence of wrongdoing — in efforts to silence online critics,” Yelp spokesman Vince Sollitto said in a statement. “Other states require that plaintiffs lay out actual facts before such information is allowed to be obtained, and have adopted strong protections in order to prevent online speech from being stifled by those upset with what has been said. We continue to urge Virginia to do the same.”

Yelp Defamation Lawsuits Ends In Stalemate

In another headline-making Yelp defamation case, a jury decided that a contractor and homeowner defamed each other. Jane Perez had hired Chris Dietz to do work on her house. Unpleased with his efforts, Perez left a scathing review on Dietz’s Yelp page. Long story short, Dietz sued Perez for online libel. Not being able to reach a settlement, the case went to trial. Both sides pled their cases, the jury deliberated for several hours, and in the end the 12 men and women decided that Perez defamed Dietz and vice versa. Since both were at fault, the jury also didn’t award any damages to either party. Presumably, both had to pay their respective attorneys, and that was that.

Yelp Defamation Lawyers

Has your business been disparaged on Yelp or another online review website? Has the bad press hurt your bottom line? Do you want to speak with a Yelp defamation lawyer about your options? If yes, contact Kelly Warner Law today. Our track record is impressive, and we’ve successfully handled numerous Yelp defamation cases to our clients’ satisfaction. Don’t wait. The longer you take to clean up the mess, the more financial damage it can do. Contact Kelly Warner’s libel law team now.

Arizona Revenge Porn Bill Aims High, Deemed Flaccid by Law Expert

Let's talk about the ins-and-outs of revenge porn legalities.
Let’s talk about the ins-and-outs of revenge porn legalities.

In an attempt to quell revenge porn, The Arizona legislator has proposed a new law — House Bill 2515. The bipartisan bill aims to make illegal to “knowingly disclose, display, distribute, publish, advertise, or offer a photograph, videotape, film or digital recording or other reproduction of another person in a state of nudity or engaged in a sexual act without obtaining the written consent of the depicted person.”

Most people can agree that so-called revenge porn is an odious plague. As such, attempts to legally curtail the pastime – like Arizona’s HB 2515 – seem like a great idea. Moreover, since professional pornographers are required to keep proof of age and consent forms, people often wonder: “Why not make consent mandatory for all media involving nudity or sex acts?” Seems logical, right?

Maybe not.

Law professor Derek Bambauer points out a huge flaw in the proposal, citing the First Amendment. The bill does not make any provisions for videos, images or gifs that are newsworthy or of public interest. He points that anyone possessing media showing a politician engaging in an illicit sex act would be perfectly within their rights to distribute the material as newsworthy and an issue for public concern.

Bambauer does offer up a solution along with his criticism. He is a proponent of expanding copyright law to include so-called ‘intimate media,’ just as the state of California has already done. Doing so, he postulates, would simultaneously encourage the creation of intimate media by consenting adults and punish those who distribute it non-consensually.

Revenge Porn Lawyer

Revenge porn is serious. It has the power to ruin a person’s reputation. If you’re dealing with a revenge porn issue and want to explore your legal options, get in touch today. Our firm has handled many online harassment, defamation and revenge porn cases – and our track record is stellar.

Reach out today to begin the conversation.

Facebook Defamation: Overview and Lawyer Contact

Facebook Defamation
Facebook Defamation Law 101

Can you be sued for trash-typing on a Facebook page? Answer: “it depends on the circumstances.” The bottom line for defamation is whether or not a false statement of fact was published (or spoken) and caused damage to the libeled party. Voicing an opinion about a person, business, event or political viewpoint is not defamatory.

Not Defamatory: I hate Jane Doe! IMO, She is a terrible choice for CEO.

Defamatory (if it’s not true): James Doe lied about that Widget deal and he stole trade secrets from his last startup partner. Don’t make him CEO.

Facebook Defamation Case Study: Local v. Local Luminary

Currently, a Facebook defamation case is going down in Tennessee. Beth York, a local Thompson Station, TN resident, posted several disparaging quips about local luminary, Donnie Cameron, on the I heart Spring Hill (TN, ya’ll!) Facebook page.

Online Accusations Lead To Facebook Defamation Lawsuit

What did York say? That Cameron was a “criminal” who was asked to leave the University of Tennessee Boosters. Unamused, Cameron slapped York with a lawsuit claiming libel, tortious interference with business relations and false light invasion of privacy.

Smartly, in addition to the lawsuit, Cameron also moved for a temporary restraining order. As such, the offending material was removed from the Internet for the duration of litigation. Now, regardless of the outcome, the offending material isn’t growing online “roots” and causing more damage to his reputation.

Defendant Fires Back With A Motion To Dismiss Facebook Defamation Claim

York filed for a summary judgment dismissal; she swears she’s telling the truth. And remember, in 95% of cases, if the statement in question is true, it’s not defamation.

We won’t hear much about this case moving forward because the judge issued a gag order, preventing both parties from pleading their case in the court of public opinion.

What Will The Plaintiff Have To Prove To Win This Facebook Defamation Lawsuit?

Since defamation requires one party to make a false statement of fact about another party, in order to win this case, Cameron will have to prove that York lied and committed Facebook defamation.

What happens if the critical information is true?

Interestingly, according to various sources, Cameron does have a bit of a past. In fact, way back in the day (1992), he spent 5 months behind bars because of a less-than-legal gambling operation.

But his jail stint happened fifteen years before Cameron was asked to step down from the University of TN boosters for allegedly “inappropriately contacting a signee.” Plus, it doesn’t seem like the Boosters were (or are) too saddened by the incident, as Cameron only had to keep away for two years, and was welcome back with open arms.

Click here to read how truth is not always a successful defense to defamation in the United States.

What Usually Happens When Facebook Defamation Strikes?

How many instances of Internet libel result in full-blown trial? Not many. Truth be told, the majority of Facebook defamation cases end with an initial letter from a lawyer. Why? Because most people don’t want to bother with a lawsuit and will simply remove the offending material when formally asked to do so.

When looking for a lawyer to handle your case, it is more important to find one who has successfully handled other Facebook defamation lawsuits than it is to find one in your area. Get in touch today to get started. Your reputation is in the balance.