France

Higher Balance Institute v. Signs of the Times

Date: 

02/25/2008

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Quantum Future Group, Inc; Quantum Future School; Signs of the Times; Laura Knight-Jadczyk

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the District of Oregon

Case Number: 

3:08-cv-00233

Legal Counsel: 

Walter Hansell; Stephen Kaus

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

On March 13, 2008, Higher Balance Institute (HBI), which markets metaphysical products and education programs, filed a defamation lawsuit against the alternative news website Signs of the Times and its operators, the Quantum Future Group and Laura Knight-Jadczyk. Only Quantum Future Group has been served. HBI claims that employees of the Quantum Future Group posted defamatory statements about it on one of the website's forums. According to the complaint, these statements include allegedly false claims that HBI is a "front for pedophilia," that HBI is "conning the public," that meditation, as sold by HBI is an act of "falling into confluence with a psychopathic reality," and that HBI is a "cointelpro" organization. Cmplt. ¶23. (The Signs of the Times website uses the term "cointelpro" to refer to organizations that it claims perpetuate the ethos of a 1970s FBI counter intelligence program designed to quell domestic dissent.)

The complaint, filed in federal district court in Oregon, contains claims for defamation, false light invasion of privacy, and intentional interference with business relationships and prospective economic advantage. HBI seeks over $4 million in damages and an injunction. On April 25, 2008, Quantum Future Group moved to strike the complaint pursuant to Oregon's anti-SLAPP statute, Or. Rev. Stat. § 31.150.

Update:

4/25/2008 - Quantum Future Group filed motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted and for lack of personal jurisdiction.

5/19/2008 - Quantum Future School, Signs of the Times, and Knight-Jadezyk filed special motions to strike the complaint under Oregon's anti-SLAPP statute and joined Quantum Future Group's motion to strike. 

12/18/2008 - The district court granted the defendants' motions to strike the complaint under Oregon's anti-SLAPP statute. The court's decision relied in part on section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

06/18/2009- The court granted in part the defendants' motion for attorney's fees. The court found the request of over $135,000 to be excessive, and so awarded $51,500.

Content Type: 

CMLP Notes: 

Source: User submission (both Contact form and in a blog comment); Google Blog Search

Status updated on 1/5/2009 (SB)

Updated 6/24/09 AVM - I added information about award of costs. 

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Ubisoft v. Kyanka

Threat Type: 

Correspondence

Date: 

11/15/2007

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Richard Kyanka

Type of Party: 

Individual
Large Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

Richard "Lowtax" Kyanka is the webmaster of SomethingAwful, an online community forum with the catch phrase: "The Internet Makes You Stupid." A member of the community posted a link on the forum to a comic that depicted Jade Raymond engaged in sexual activities. Raymond is a video game producer for Ubisoft.

Ubisoft sent Kyanka a cease-and-desist letter, demanding that the comic be taken down from the site and threatening legal action. The letter claims that the comic infringed upon Ms. Raymond's "personal rights," caused emotional distress, and constituted trademark infringement, among other things.

Mr. Kyanka posted the letter on SomethingAwful in his own forum posting. In the posting, Kyanka claimed that he had no connection to the comic except that a link to it was posted on the forum. He said that he does not know who drew the comic and does not know where the image is located. Kyanka also sent Ubisoft's legal counsel a reply email, indicating that perhaps he did not take the legal threat seriously:

Please let it be known that hereforth I have read the express mail and email sent thereforth by Famous Lawyer David Anderson of the Famous Lawyer Law Business of Nixon Peabody LLP, and furthermore a declaration shall be expressed on the part of Internet User Rich “Lowtax” Kyanka that that forth herethrough I have conducted rigorous tests implemented through a vigorous barrage of legal studies, and furthermore hitherthrough these rigorous tests have therefore proven Famous Lawyer David Anderson of the Famous Lawyer Law Business of Nixon Peabody LLP shall be recognized as a man of the fag persuasion.

Pursuant to the United Dairy Council

Rich “Lowtax” Kyanka
Internet

The link to the comic is no longer on SomethingAwful, and Ubisoft has not taken any legal action against Kyanka.

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

Requested a PDF of the letter from Kyanka, but haven't heard anything back yet. -Stefani

SB - we have a copy of the comic at issue. We probably don't want to post it, as it is sexually explicit.

DA - I agree.

As of 6/09/2008  - no developments. Do we still want to try and get the letter? (JMC)

French Court Finds DailyMotion Liable For Copyright Infringement

Written by Kyle Junik, CMLP Intern

Brad Spitz reports in his blog that a French court held DailyMotion liable for copyright infringement, despite concluding that the site was a mere "hosting service." DailyMotion is an online video-sharing site similar to YouTube. In a July 13 ruling (in French), the court went out of its way to label DailyMotion a hosting service, an argument DailyMotion itself put forth. In France, hosting services typically enjoy a safe harbor from the infringing acts of users under the French Act of 21 June 2004 on Confidence in the Digital Environment (in French). The Act implements the European Commission directive on electronic commerce and states in part:

Where an information society service is provided that consists of the storage of information provided by a recipient of the service, Member States shall ensure that the service provider is not liable for the information stored at the request of a recipient of the service, on condition that:

(a) the provider does not have actual knowledge of illegal activity or information and, as regards claims for damages, is not aware of facts or circumstances from which illegal activity or information is apparent; and
(b) the provider, upon obtaining such knowledge or awareness, acts expeditiously to remove or to disable access to the information.

The court found DailyMotion was aware of the infringing content, in part because the site deliberately furnished the users with the means to commit the acts of infringement. The court stated that the Act's limitation on liability is not available when the infringing activities are created or induced by the provider itself. DailyMotion has appealed.

Notably, the language of the French Act is almost identical to the safe-harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) codified at 17 U.S.C. Sec. 512(c). Google (on behalf of its popular video-sharing site, YouTube) frequently invokes the DMCA safe-harbor provisions as a defense to copyright infringement claims brought against it. At the end of the day, the French court ruling has no direct effect on any U.S. court's interpretation of the DMCA, but it may cause Google to reassess its stance on its liability via YouTube.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

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