Anonymity

'Skanky' Blogging, Anonymity and What's Right

Here we go again -- a new attack on anonymous speech, misusing the facts ripped from the current headlines about a case of one person's slimy online attacks on another.

Subject Area: 

Keith Goodridge Construction v. WYBS, Inc.

Date: 

08/18/2008

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

WYBS, Inc., d/b/a/ Merchantcircle; John Doe; Susan and Anthony Gatchell

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

Federal
State

Court Name: 

Linn County Circuit Court; United States District Court, D. Oregon.

Case Number: 

6:08CV06313 (District Court)

Legal Counsel: 

Bruce L. Campbell, Elisa J. Dozono - Miller Nash LLP (for Defendant WYBS, Inc.)

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

In August 2008, Keith Goodridge sued WYBS, Inc., owner of the site www.merchantcircle.com, and a John Doe using the screen name "Attorney" over allegedly defamatory comments posted to the site.  According to the complaint, a posting from June 4, 2008 falsely claimed that an outdoor arena Keith Goodridge Construction (KGC) had built collapsed, killing a teenager. 

WYBS removed the case to federal court and filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that it was immune from liability under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act ("Section 230"). In February 2009, Goodridge amended his complaint to add factual allegations regarding a second allegedly defamatory posting on merchantcircle.com, from November 21, 2008.  He also attempted to plead around Section 23 by claiming that WYBS itself republished both allegedly defamatory statements in multiple locations on its site.  Susan and Anthony Gatchell were added as defendants in lieu of the John Doe "Attorney."

WYBS filed a motion to dismiss this amended complaint, claiming that the reposting alleged by Goodridge did not appear on WYBS's site, but rather on completely independent third-party sites, such as Craigslist.org.  It also reasserted its claim of immunity under Section 230.

On February 24, 2009, Goodridge filed a motion to remand to state court, claiming that the addition of  Susan and Anthony Gatchell — both residents of Oregon like Goodridge — eliminated federal jurisdiction. In June 2009, a magistrate judge issued his recommendation that the case be remanded to state court and that Goodridge be allowed to file a second amended complaint. 

On July 14, 2009, the federal district court adopted the findings and recommendation of the magistrate and remanded the case to the Linn County Circuit Court.

Update:

May 12, 2010 -  A reader submitted the following update via email: "The Linn County Court granted an anti-SLAPP motion in favor of WYBS against Plaintiffs in the amount of $22,242, on the ground that there was no objectively reasonable basis for the claim." 

CMLP Notes: 

07/23/2009 - LB editing

docket on WL  6:08CV06313

 

Priority: 

1-High

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

D.C. High Court Joins Consensus Protecting the Anonymity of Online Speakers

Last Thursday, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals weighed in on what procedural safeguards are necessary to protect the rights of Internet users to engage in anonymous speech.  In Solers, Inc. v. Doe, the D.C.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Glass v. Doe d/b/a pogowasright.org

Date: 

07/30/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Jane Doe d/b/a pogowasright.org

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

U.S. District Court, Central District of California

Case Number: 

CV09-05648 CBM (FFMx)

Legal Counsel: 

Gregory Alan Rutchik; Colette Vogele

Publication Medium: 

Blog
Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Description: 

Jane Doe, an anonymous blogger and author of the website Pogo Was Right: Privacy News from Around the World, filed suit in the Central District of California against Lillian Glass, Ph.D. The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment that (1) Doe is protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act from liability for postings made by anonymous third parties in the website's forums, and (2) that certain comments made by Doe on the blog do not defame Dr. Glass.

The case arises from a series of posts by Doe on the Pogo Was Right website relating to the mental health problems experienced by Britney Spears and the resulting media coverage. Dr. Glass, a "body language expert," had appeared on CNN's Showbiz Tonight and on CNN's Primetime Live with Erica Hill to discuss Ms. Spears' behavior and to offer a potential diagnosis of Ms. Spears as suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder. In response, Doe authored a series of posts criticizing Dr. Glass' comments and raising concerns about Ms. Spears' privacy and patient confidentiality.

On June 18, 2009, an attorney for Dr. Glass wrote to Doe, asserting that certain comments by Doe and an anonymous forum poster "violated the privacy rights and other rights" of Dr. Glass; were "false and defamatory in nature, and [were] designed to embarrass and hold my client up to ridicule"; and "incited persons with such propensities and have called for Dr. Glass' death." (The latter in reference to the following from one of Doe's posts:  "'Dr. Phil' catches some flak and dishes some out A complaint filed about Dr. Phil -- but is it wellfounded? People who live in Glass psychology houses shouldn't throw stones. They should be stoned. Dr.
Lillian Glass backpedals, but is it too little, too late?") The letter demanded that Doe remove all references to Dr. Glass from her posts.

Dr. Glass' attorney subsequently sent an email once again threatening to sue if Doe did not remove the references to Dr. Glass from the webiste. The email also stated: "I should also mention to you that if a suit is filed against you, then there will be a public record of your identity and of your capacity as the blogger of this 'pogowasright.org' and other websites. Since you have gone to such great lengths to hide your identity improperly, I think this should also be a concern of yours." Doe filed the complaint for a declaratory judgment ten days after receipt of this email.

Priority: 

1-High

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Threat Source: 

Westlaw Alert

Jurisdiction: 

Salon Professional Academy v. Blacconiere

Date: 

07/27/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Nicholas Blacconiere; John Doe

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Kane County Circuit Court

Case Number: 

2009L000465

Publication Medium: 

Social Network

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

A Chicago-area cosmetology school has filed suit against Illinois resident Nicholas Blacconiere and an unknown John Doe for allegedly creating a Facebook page that the school claims defamed its directors and used its logo without permission. The Salon Professional Academy of Elgin, as well as school officials Gwendolyn Nelson and Aaron Aven, are seeking $50,000 in damages, according to the Daily Herald

The complaint alleges that the defendants made defamatory statements on a Facebook profile called "Tpsa RobinHood." As of Aug. 4, 2009, the profile was still on Facebook, but was set to private -- meaning that only "friends" could view the profile. According to the Chicagoist, a June post on the profile states that the school's logo was removed after complaints and will not be used again. Another post on the profile reportedly states that the page was not meant to "bash" anyone, but was rather intended to be a place for students to "vent" about their experiences at the school.  

A case management conference has been set for Oct. 15, 2009, according to court documents.  

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

8/3/09- court docket at http://www.cic.co.kane.il.us/OnlineCourtInformation.asp, let applet load and search for Blacconiere

CMF - 8/5/09

Jurisdiction: 

Vinogradov v. Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Date: 

05/26/2009

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Bozeman Daily Chronicle; Montana State University

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Organization
School

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Gallatin County District Court

Case Number: 

DV-03-49

Legal Counsel: 

Mike Meloy

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

Aleksandra Vinogradov, a professor at Montana State University, subpoenaed the Bozeman Daily Chronicle for information concerning comments made on the Chronicle's website in connection with two articles published in March and April 2009 regarding the trial in Vinogradov's gender discrimination suit against her employer, Montana State University.

Vinogradov sought this information to support a request for a new trial in her discrimination lawsuit against MSU, which ended in a jury verdict against her in April 2009. Her attorneys argued that one of the commenters to the April 2009 article who posted under the pseudonym “mbcomstock” was Brandon Comstock, one of the jurors in the case. The comment in question read: "Note that this was the third time this same woman has sued the university for discrimination, and her third loss. Maybe, just maybe, instead of everybody else being conspiring liars hiding a ‘big dirty secret,’ the problem is really her." In a May 2009 hearing, Comstock testified that he was not the author of the comment, but acknowledged that his father might have written it.

Vinogradov claimed this post proved the jury was improperly informed of her prior suits against MSU. She moved for a new trial based on jury misconduct and served a subpoena on the newspaper requesting that the Chronicle turn over:

"1) copies of all postings made to the Chronicle's website or blog relating to the two articles; 2) the names and identities off [sic] persons and organizations that posted such comments; 3) the IP addresses associated with each comment posted; 4) the IP addresses associated with each viewer of the two articles during the period of March 23, 2009 to April 3, 2009; 5) all computer logs generated in connection with the two articles; and 6) any and all e-mail communications and other written communications that the Chronicle and its website, its agents and its employees have received or sent on or after March 23, 2009 relating to the two articles." 
Ruling at 2. In addition, Vinogradov filed an emergency motion to perpetuate testimony pending appeal, so that information on the posting could be considered with her request for a new trial. 

On June 3, 2009, the Chronicle opposed Vinogradov's motions, arguing that the information and documents she sought "are protected under Montana's Media Confidentiality Act, specifically  26-1-902, MCA." Ruling at 3. The next day, MSU also opposed Vinogradov's motion to perpetuate, arguing that "the information she seeks is not relevant to the jury misconduct issue" and therefore did not satisfy procedural requirements. Id

On June 5, 2009, the court denied Vinogradov's motion to perpetuate testimony pending appeal on procedural grounds. The court did not address the newspaper's shield law argument or rule on its motion to quash the subpoena.  Later in June, the court denied Vinogradov's motion for a new trial. 

Vinogradov reportedly will appeal this result. 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

AVM-Nothing on WL as of 6/25/09

AVM- Nothing on WL as of 7/8/09

AVM - updated 7/16/09 - added link on judge denying mistrial

CMF - 7/21/09

Jurisdiction: 

Park West Galleries v. Fine Art Registry

Date: 

03/04/2008

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Fine Art Registry; Bruce Hochman; Theresa Franks; David Phillips

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

Case Number: 

2:08-CV-12247

Legal Counsel: 

Ralph C. Chapa, Jr., Lawrence C. Atorthy - Kaufman & Payton (for Defendants Fine Art Registry, Franks, and Phillips); Ian C. Simpson - Garan Lucow (for Defendant Hochman)

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Dismissed (partial)

Description: 

Park West Galleries (PWG), an art gallery that also performs auctions on cruise ships, sued Fine Art Registry (FAR), an organization that, according to The Art Newspaper, offers “advocacy to victims of art fraud and abuse” including a system of tagging and registering art, along with Theresa Franks, CEO and founder of FAR, and Bruce Hochman, Gallery Director for the Salvador Dali Gallery in San Juan and art expert for FAR.  (Compl. ¶¶ 2-3, 5-6.) 

According to the complaint, FAR, Franks, and Hochman allegedly orchestrated an eleven-month "smear campaign" through the FAR website, making "false and defamatory statements" about PWG in an "attempt[] to destroy Park West's goodwill and reputation."  (Compl. ¶¶ 4, 7, 24.)  Specifically, PWG complains that FAR, Franks, and Hochman have falsely accused it of selling fake artwork during its "at-sea" auctions.  (Compl. ¶25-33.)  PWG is seeking monetary damages and a permanent injunction barring FAR, Franks, and Hochman from making any further defamatory statements.

Shortly after this suit began, PWG brought a similar suit against David Phillips, who participated in an allegedly defamatory interview with Hochman that was posted to FAR's website.  In March, 2009, the court consolidated the two cases.

The court denied Hochman's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction or forum non conveniens and improper venue.  FAR and Franks also filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and/or improper venue.  The court found that jurisdiction was proper over FAR, but not Franks, and dismissed Franks from the lawsuit.  It denied the request to change venue.

In May 2009, FAR and Phillips filed a counterclaim against PWG, accusing it of a "concerted effort to defame, smear, and destroy the business and personal reputations of F[AR] and P[hillips]."  (Counterclaim ¶ 12.)  The counterclaim includes counts of defamation, tortious interference, interference with prospective business advantage, trademark infringement under the Lanham Act, and conspiracy.  FAR and Phillips are seeking actual and punitive damages.

The court has yet to rule on PWG's motion to dismiss FAR's and Phillips' counterclaim.

Update:

02/26/2010 - The court granted in part and denied in part the motions for summary judgment filed by Global Fine Art Registry, David Charles Phillips, Theresa Franks, and Bruce Hochman and The Salvador Dali Gallery. Among other rulings, the court determined that posting allegedly defamatory statements under a pseudonym triggered a longer statute of limitations period applicable to "fraudulent concealment."

Content Type: 

Priority: 

1-High

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Guardian Civic League v. Philadelphia Police Department

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

07/15/2009

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Philadelphia Police Department; Sergent McQ; Domelights.com; John Does 1-10,000

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization
Government

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Case Number: 

2:09-cv-03148-CMR

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

The Guardian Civic League has filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 2,300 black Philadelphia police officers against the Philadelphia Police Department for allegedly allowing its officers to post racist and offensive content on Domelights.com, a website focused on law enforcement. 

Guardian's three-count complaint claims that the Philadelphia Police Department engaged in the creation of a hostile work environment on the basis of race (42 U.S.C. § 1983), discrimination (42 U.S.C. § 1981), and conspiracy to interfere with civil rights (42 U.S.C. § 1985) when white officers, Does 1-10,000, posted racist content to the forum site.  

Guardian alleges that "an Active Duty Philadelphia Police Sergent" with the username 'McQ' founded and operated . . . . [t]he racially offensive website." Compl. ¶ 3. Guardian attached screenshots of various posts from Domelights.com, reading "Guns Don’t Kill People. Dangerous Minorites Do. How much longer can you ignore this?" and "adults can't speak proper English or spell at a 3rd grade level, but they can sing among 'theyselves' to lyrics of a rap song." Compl. ¶¶ 2, 7.  Guardian asserts that these "offensive postings . . .  are part of the intentional purpose of the creator of Domelights.com Sgt. 'McQ.'" Compl. ¶ 8.

Guardian asserts that "White police officers use Domelights.com at work, in front of African American Police Officers, and discuss the contents of this racist website, make jokes about it. "Compl. ¶ 5. Also, Guardian argues that the Police Department is aware of the website but although "African American Police Officers have complained to the Philadelphia Police Department regarding Domelights.com,  . . . no actions have been taken to restrict this website or to discipline those police officers responsible for its racially offensive and legally violative content." Compl. ¶ 48.

Guardian seeks a ban on "the operation and use of Domelights.com by Philadelphia Police Officers" as well as compensatory and punitive damges.  Compl. ¶ 10.

The Philadelphia police have not yet filed an answer to the complaint. 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Priority: 

1-High

Jurisdiction: 

Wiseman v. Does 1-25

Date: 

03/26/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Does 1-25

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Superior Court of the State of California, Los Angeles County

Case Number: 

BC410604

Publication Medium: 

Website

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

Los Angeles photographer Zoe Wiseman has filed suit in California state court against twenty-five anonymous individuals associated with WeHireAliens.com, alleging they falsely stated that she illegally hires models without work visas and pays them in cash. The website allows users to report "suspected employers of illegal aliens." The disputed post names three British models allegedly hired without work visas by Wiseman for a photo shoot at a hotel in California. Other users' replies to the original post claim it was written by someone with a "personal vendetta" against Wiseman.  

The complaint, filed in March 2009, states claims for defamation and negligence. A case management conference is scheduled for July 27, 2009. 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

Source: CourtHouse News

AVM- 6/9/9 investigating- updated with basic info from westlaw,but no other documents  available at this time

7/9/09 - docket available on WestLaw; no other documents up at this time (CMF)

Jurisdiction: 

Gorman v. Meale

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

07/07/2009

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Jennifer Meale; Xcentric Ventures, LLC

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

McHenry County Circuit Court

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

Attorneys at Favaro & Gorman Ltd. filed a lawsuit against Jennifer Meale and Xcentric Ventures, LLC over allegedly defamatory posts made anonymously by Meale on Ripoff Report, a consumer review website.  It is not clear how the law determined that Meale was responsible for the anonymous reports.

According to the Northwest Herald, Xcentric was named as a defendant because it failed to remove the allegedly defamatory postings despite repeated requests from Favaro & Gorman.  Xcentric will likely raise section 230 of the Communications Decency Act as a defense.

Subject Area: 

Content Type: 

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

07/13/2009 - LB editing; no court documents available on Illinois state court website; no docket on westlaw; no other news coverage that I can find

Priority: 

1-High

Brandjacking on Social Networks: Twitter, Malicious Ghost Writing, and Corporate Sabotage

It seems all I can write about these days is digital doppelgangers. I’ve written about employers engaged in Facebook hijacking and MySpace lurking. Today, a story of brandjacking through Twitter sabotage rounds out the cyber-possession trilogy.

Subject Area: 

Town of Secaucus v. NJ.com

Date: 

09/01/2008

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

NJ.com

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Organization

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Hudson County Superior Court (New Jersey)

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Material Removed

Description: 

According to the Hudson Reporter, in September 2008 the Town of Secaucus sought a subpoena from a Hudson County Superior Court judge to force NJ.com, a website run by a group of New Jersey newspapers, to disclose the identities of several anonymous posters going by 2Advil, AllEyzOnYou, and Truth4Tel. These individuals allegedly posted defamatory comments related to a political dispute within the town council.  The CMLP has not been able to determine whether the subpoena issued, whether NJ.com complied, or whether a lawsuit was ultimately filed. 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Threat Source: 

Google News

CMLP Notes: 

RPK

7/7/09 - no information on whether a lawsuit ever came out of this (CMF)

Priority: 

1-High

Jurisdiction: 

Employee Privacy and Social Networks: The Case for a New Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

“Three can keep a secret, if two are dead.” – Benjamin Franklin

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

News Websites in Texas and Kentucky Invoke Shield Laws for Online Commenters

This week brings word of two new cases testing whether state shield laws apply to user comments posted on news websites.  In Texas, a Taylor County District Court judge ruled that the Abilene Reporter-News may refrain from disclosing the identities of commenters who posted comments to articles about a murder victim and the teenager charged in connection with his death.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Tanner Friedman v. Doe

Date: 

05/27/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

John Doe

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

Case Number: 

2:09-cv-12017

Publication Medium: 

Micro-blog

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Material Removed
Subpoena Enforced

Description: 

TFSC, LLC, a public relations firms doing business as Tanner Friedman, is suing an unknown Twitter user in a Detroit federal district court seeking injunctive relief and damages arising out of his use of the Twitter account "tannerfriedman."  Tanner Friedman, in its complaint, alleges that "tannerfriedman" posted "false and defamatory statement[s] regarding Tanner Friedman on the Twitter website using the hijacked name."  (Compl. ¶ 14.)  Tanner Friedman also alleges that "tannerfriedman" posted tweets by legitimate Tanner Friedman employees to "mislead Twitter users that it was Plaintiff who was posting these tweets and to impugn its reputation."  (Compl. ¶ 17.). 

Besides defamation, the complaint includes claims for violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (18 U.S.C. § 1030), unfair competiton under federal and state law, trademark infringement under federal and state law, cyberpiracy, and intentional interference with contractual or business relations.

After filing suit, Tanner Friedman moved the court for permission to subpoena Twitter for identifying information about the unknown user.  The court granted the motion, which was unopposed. According to The Detroit News, John Doe was traced to a computer at a rival firm. 

According to its blog, this tweet, and CBS-affiliated WWJ Newsradio, Tanner Friedman has now gained possession of the "tannerfriedman" Twitter alias.

Content Type: 

Priority: 

1-High

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

06/30/2009 - LB editing

Subject Area: 

Skutt Catholic High School v. Does

Date: 

06/30/2006

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

John and Jane Doe

Type of Party: 

School

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Douglas County District Court, Nebraska

Publication Medium: 

Wiki

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Material Removed

Description: 

Skutt Catholic High School sued anonymous Wikipedia posters over critical edits posted to the school's Wikipedia page in 2006. The posts criticized the quality of education at the school and its high tuition, used vulgar language, and referenced student drug use. After filing suit, the school subpoenaed Cox Communications, the ISP for the IP addresses used to make the postings. A spokesman from Cox Communications told the Student Press Law Center that the company would comply with the subpoena "unless there are further developments in the case, which quashes that order." The CMLP has been unable to determine whether Cox Communications ultimately complied and what ultimately happened in the underlying lawsuit.

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

I (Stefani) researched this case, but I cannot find any more information on it.  My guess is that the school ended up withdrawng the suit, but I can't find anything else at all.  

AVM-6/9/09 Also looked into this and did not find any information.

CMF - 6/ 26/09- couldn't find any other information about the suit, so I guess it's been dropped. 

Source: Phil Malone

Jurisdiction: 

Bible & Gospel Trust v. Twinam

Date: 

01/25/2007

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Timothy J. Twinam; Sallie Twinam; Peebs.net

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont

Case Number: 

1:07-cv-00017

Legal Counsel: 

Rebecca E. Boucher, Ronald A. Shems - Shems Dunkiel Kassel & Saunders, PLLC (for Defendant Timothy Twinam); Pro se (Defendant Sallie Twinam)

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

Bible & Gospel Trust, associated with a religious group known as the Exclusive Brethren, sued Sallie and Timothy Twinam claiming that they were the owners and operators of the website Peebs.net, which is critical of the Exclusive Brethren.  

The complaint, which includes claims of copyright infringement, conversion, and tortious interference with a contractual relationship, arises from the alleged posting of materials from the Exclusive Brethren's now-defunct website, exclusivebrethren.net.  Bible & Gospel Trust claims that all interests in exclusivebrethren.net and its contents were transferred to it as part of a settlement agreement in an earlier case, and that the unauthorized posting of the material on Peebs.net constitutes a violation of Bible & Gospel Trust’s copyrights.  

Although Timothy Twinam denied being the owner of Peebs.net in his answer, he later admitted to owning the site during discovery, according to a Peebs.net press release.  Sallie Twinam admits to having been a “nominal owner” of the site only for the period of time between April 5, 2007 and January 25, 2008.  Both deny that the alleged copyrighted material was published on Peebs.net.  

Bible & Gospel Trust is seeking an injunction preventing the publication of its copyrighted material, an order compelling Twinam and Peebs.net to destroy all copies of the copyrighted material in their possession and to publish a retraction and an apology, and compensatory and punitive damages.

Timothy Twinam has filed a special motion to strike under Vermont's Anti-SLAPP statute (12 V.S.A. § 1041).  The court is treating this motion as a motion for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, but has yet to rule on this motion. 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

This is the same organization in Bible Gospel Trust v. Wyman

Some of the docs for this are on WL at 2009 WL 1707523

06/25/09 - LB editing

Jurisdiction: 

Blixseth v. Bresnan Communications

Date: 

02/13/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Bresnan Communications; Does 1-100

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization
Intermediary

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts

Case Number: 

1:09-cv-10219

Legal Counsel: 

John D. Seiver - Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Material Removed
Subpoena Quashed

Description: 

On February 13, 2009, Tim Blixseth, a real estate developer and shareholder in the bankrupt Montana ski resort Yellowstone Club, filed a complaint in Massachusets federal court against Bresnan Communications, a New York-based ISP, and 100 unnamed defendants.  The complaint sought a declaratory judgment that Blixseth was entitled to obtain from Bresnan Communications the identity of one of its subscribers, an anonymous commenter to the NewWest.net website going by the moniker "Sharkbait."

Blixseth alleged that Sharkbait made a death threat against him in the comments section to an NewWest article on the Yellowstone Club bankruptcy. Counsel for Blixseth contacted NewWest shortly after the alleged death threat was posted, and the site's publisher agreed to remove the comment and disclose Sharkbait's IP address.

The same day the complaint was filed, Blixseth served a subpoena on Bresnan Communications requesting that it provide identifying information for Sharkbait's IP address.  Counsel for Bresnan Communications objected to the subpoena, citing federal law prohibiting cable operators from divulging customer information without a court order and notice to the subscriber.

Blixseth then filed an emergency motion seeking an order requiring Bresnan Communications to turn over the requested information and a motion to seal.  The district court subsequently denied both motions.  There has been no activity on the docket since mid-February 2009.

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

Source: NewWest.net

 

KAI 6/5/09

Jurisdiction: 

Threat Source: 

Blog Post

Berkman's Cyberlaw Clinic Submits Amicus Brief in Case Involving Prior Restraint and Reporter's Privilege

Today, Harvard Law School's Cyberlaw Clinic submitted an amicus curiae brief urging the New Hampshire Supreme Court to defend the First Amendment rights of a website that covers news about the mortgage industry.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

HIMSS v. PedSource

Threat Type: 

Correspondence

Date: 

02/25/2009

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Chilmark Research; Physician's Computer Company

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Organization

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

Lawyers from the Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS), a health care industry trade group, sent letters to two bloggers demanding that they remove allegedly offensive and defamatory user comments, provide any information that may help in the identification of the comment posters, and preserve all records relating to the posters.  Specifically, the letters concern a comment by “Rocky Ostrand” on Chip Hart's blog, “Confessions of a Pediatric Practice Consultant,” which is hosted at pedsource.com, a service provided by Physician's Computer Company (PCC); and comments by “Calvin Jablonski” on the blog of Chilmark Research.

Both bloggers have posted responses to the letters, refusing to remove the allegely defamatory comments or provide information to aid in identifying the potentially pseudonymous commenters.  Both have, however, offered to post any response to the comments which HIMSS may wish to make.  At this point, it does not appear that HIMSS has taken either blogger up on this offer.

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

Source: Legal Blog Watch

LB - 06/12/2009

Jurisdiction: 

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