A great New York Times article last weekend drew our attention to this rather colorful legal threat and its target, Jason Fortuny, a freelance web designer, programmer, and noted (or notorious) Internet troll. In 2006, Mr. Fortuny engaged in what he called the "Craigslist Experiment," in which he posted a fake ad on Craigslist pretending to be a woman seeking a man for rough sex. According to the Times article, over one-hundred men responded, providing photographs and contact information. Mr. Fortuny allegedly posted this material to his blog, RFJason, and Encyclopedia Dramatica (described by the New York Times as "an online compendium of troll humor and troll lore"). Mr. Fortuny disputes posting the photographs and contact information to Encyclopedia Dramatica.
One of the men who responded to Mr. Fortuny's prank filed a lawsuit in federal court in Illinois last February. The plaintiff, who has chosen to proceed anonymously in the suit, alleges that Mr. Fortuny violated his copyrights and invaded his privacy by posting his photograph and personal information on the Internet. The complaint seeks $75,000 in damages and requests an injunction requiring Mr. Fortuny to remove the photograph and contact information from his website. Mr. Fortuny is representing himself in the lawsuit. On July 11th, 2008, he filed a letter that the court treated as a motion to dismiss. The motion, in which Mr. Fortuny challenged the court's jurisdiction over him and the substance of the plaintiff's claims, is pending.