Any regular reader of this blog is aware that I am fascinated watching the law adapt and adjust to the ever increasing use of the internet and social medial as a form of sharing ideas, communication, and material… legally and illegally.
“Skanks in NYC” was a google hosted blog that existed for the sole purpose of smearing and defaming a model named Liskula Cohen. A defamation action was filed and the plaintiff convinced the judge to force google to disclose the bloggers information so that he or she would appear in the defamation action. The blogger was identified as Rosemary Port who used the blog to seek revenge against Cohen for the most common and cliched reasons, a man. Apparently Ms. Port thought that Cohen had spoken poorly of her to an unnamed gentleman.
Once identified, Cohen has chosen to drop the suit so long as the website is taken down. This is an important decision that rides the line between privacy, free speech, and civil freedoms. Ms. Port is shocked that her privacy was disturbed and believes the Court decided wrongly. Her actions, however, made the decision easier for the Justice. The blog (which I admittedly have never seen) seems to have no purpose other than to abuse and smear the reputation of Ms. Cohen. Ms. Port does not qualify as a legitimate reporter, nor is she sharing news with the public. Her actions cross the line of free speech and she did not deserve anonymity.
I expect to see a number of these cases come up in the future. It is SO EASY today to besmear and defame a person. On twitter, myspace, facebook, or Ebay (as in a case I handled in which a buyer was so dissatisfied that she made it her life’s goal to destroy my client’s business and reputation.) We may see a flood of defamation lawsuits stemming from social media.
Long gone is the day when we gathered around the water cooler making snide comments.