Bauer v. Wikimedia

NOTE: The information and commentary contained in this database entry are based on court filings and other informational sources that may contain unproven allegations made by the parties. The truthfulness and accuracy of such information is likely to be in dispute. Information contained in this entry is current as of the last event mentioned in the "Description" section below; additional proceedings might have taken place in this matter since this event.

Summary

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

01/31/2008

Status: 

Pending

Location: 

New Jersey

Disposition: 

Dismissed (partial)

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

N/A
In January 2008, literary agent Barbara Bauer and her company Barbara Bauer Literary Agency, Inc. filed a lawsuit in New Jersey State court against twenty-two defendants, including the Wikimedia Foundation. The complaint includes claims for defamation, tortious interference with prospective business... read full description
Parties

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Wikimedia Foundation; Jenna Glatzer; MacAllister Stone; James D. MacDonald; Kent Brewster; Ann C. Crispin; Patrick Nielsen-Hayden; Teresa Nielsen-Hayden; Brian Hill; Dee Power aka Harrilane D. Power aka D. Carr Harrilane; David L. Kuzminski; Thomas S

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Location of Party: 

  • New Jersey

Location of Party: 

  • California
  • New York
  • Florida
  • Ohio
  • New Jersey
  • Washington
  • Arizona
  • Maryland
  • Wisconsin
  • New Hampshire

Legal Counsel: 

Charles LeGrand, Kevin Goering, James M. Chadwick - Shepphard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP; Matt Zimmerman - EFF
Description

In January 2008, literary agent Barbara Bauer and her company Barbara Bauer Literary Agency, Inc. filed a lawsuit in New Jersey State court against twenty-two defendants, including the Wikimedia Foundation. The complaint includes claims for defamation, tortious interference with prospective business advantage, and conspiracy. According to court documents, the dispute revolves around statements made on a large number of websites and blogs describing Bauer as being among the "20 Worst Literary Agents" and claiming that she has "no . . . significant track record of sales to commercial (advance paying) publishers." The complaint also alleges that various defendants posted altered photographs of Bauer on the Internet and created YouTube videos, including "Crouching Snark, Hidden Draggon" and "Miss Snark's Happy Hooker Crapstravaganza," that allegedly defamed and belittle her.

With regard to Wikimedia, the complaint alleges that Wikipedia published false statements indicating that Bauer was "The Dumbest of the Twenty Worst" literary agents and that she has "no documented sales at all." It further alleges that Bauer informed Wikimedia about the allegedly false statements, and that the foundation "has refused to remove the statements from Wikipedia." Finally, it alleges that Wikimedia conspired with the other defendants to defame and interfere with her prospective economic advantage, without providing any details.

On May 1, 2008, Wikimedia moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA 230), the federal law that shields providers and users of "interactive computer service[s]" from liability for defamation and other torts for publishing the statements of third parties, bars Bauer's claims as a matter of law. Wikimedia's memorandum in support of its motion also argued that, even if CDA 230 did not bar Bauer's claim, the underlying statements are protected opinion under the New Jersey Constitution and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

On May 20, 2008, WritersNewsWeekly.com wrote that the court will hear Wikimedia's motion to be dismissed from the lawsuit on June 6, 2008.

Update:

7/1/08 - Court dismissed the case against Wikimedia Foundation, ruling that section 230 of the Communications Decency Act barred liability for publishing the statements of others. The court left open the possibility that Bauer could amend her complaint to state a claim against Wikimedia.

Details

Content Type: 

  • Video
  • Photo
  • Text

Publication Medium: 

Blog
Website
Wiki

Subject Area: 

  • Defamation
  • Third-Party Content
  • Section 230
  • Business Torts
Court Information & Documents
CMLP Information (Private)

CMLP Notes: 

Status checked on 6/02/08 (AAB)

Updated 1/29/09 - VAF