ShoeMoney.com Involved In A Landmark Blog Case – Slander In Comments

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I am sorry I have to be so vague but it appears that I am going to be deposition and logs from my blog will be subpoena for use in a case where 1 person slandered another on my blog. Anyway it looks like 1 of the people is seeking damages for what the other said on my blog. I can not get into any details what so ever about the post or even what state this is in. My attorney probably doesn’t even like me posting this much but I gotta ask does anyone know of any case law on slander in blog comments?

I had never heard of someone winning or losing a case where they slandered another in a blog comment.

I will post more when I get the green light.

145 thoughts on “ShoeMoney.com Involved In A Landmark Blog Case – Slander In Comments

  1. Kyle

    I would take the idiot that started this lawsuit out to the woodshed. People like this should not be able to leave the house. I am astonished and disappointed in human kind.

  2. Bill

    You might find this Delaware Supreme Court decision interesting, but I’m not certain how useful it will be to you, considering the fact patterns involved and the likeliness that you are in a different jurisdication.

    Doe vs. Cahill

    Still, there may be something in there that might be helpful. Here’s an AP wire article on it that puts it into perspective:

    Court Rules in Favor of Anonymous Blogger

  3. Nick Pang

    i hope this won’t prevent people from blogging frankly on shoemoney :-(

    but you’ll be getting a lot of publicity from this. the press will pick it up automatically – i’m sure they watch digg, frak, and others…

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  5. Dr G

    Fortunately for whatever poster for whatever topic: truth is the defense for libel and slander. Shoe ad revenue up.

  6. Jamie

    have your attorney find out if you are on the hook here. You may need to add some language to the comments section saying that the comments do not necessarily reflect the view of the Shoemoney empire etc etc. Hopefully that would limit your exposure to your own posts..

  7. WilliamC

    I am actually surprised that nobody else has even noticed that you can not “slander” someone on a blog. It is just not possible legally. Slander is quite simply, spoken words. Libel, however, is written words an is more likely the case here.

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  10. Grock

    Negative….

    read the papers from aaron walls case against traffic power. He was sued for slander on his blog

  11. alek

    My guess it is is related to the Lincoln firm that was going to do a redesign of his website.

    Jeremy: Do you have a court filing number (or whatever it is called) so we can look this up online?

  12. Yahoosuks.com

    was it mailed or delivered by a subpoena deliverer in person? is it in your state or different state?

    these are things to consider.

    similar experience: i once received a subpoena by mail (no confirmation of any kind) for a hearing or trial or legal action that I personally had nothing to do with but it was where I worked and they used one of our ‘housing available’ bulletin boards.

    it was to occur in the courts in the city i was working in. i did nothing about it. nothing ever happened. i never heard back from any parties involved.

    fwiw.

  13. afmusan

    In the end, it sounds like another great marketing tactic for a couple of sites. Attention is attention and it works.

  14. Arne

    Freedom of speech has NOTHING to do with this. Or do you think there are different laws for the internet and for the “real world”?

  15. Arne

    Jeremy, you should be happy that you aren’t living in Germany. We have a huge lawsuit going on in this country right now where some guy sued a forum for a post of a member and the judge ruled that there are many cases where the forum owner is actually responsible.

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  17. mumbles

    Thats the way it is these days, everyone is out for an easy buck. Easier to sue for it than to work for it. I might call people like this scum but then that might start another lawsuit. Geez, what an enormous waste of time!

    Just saw the article about you in webservices mag. Way to go!

  18. mumbles

    I don’t see anything said in that blog that would hurt a persons biz and cost them money. Maybe it is all a pub stunt between the two of them. Doesn’t really matter, whatever works to bring traffic, go for it.

  19. Quadszilla

    No it’s not that simple. They must also prove that what was said was untrue. Moreover, if the comment was stated as an opinion and based on fact that are corectly stated it falls under “fair comment” and there is no case.

  20. Brian Clark

    Only because this a confusing distinction, this may help…

    Slander is spoken defamation, libel is written. So this would be libel.

    Jeremy, if you’ll allow me to shamelessly plug, we’ll be covering this starting Tuesday in Blogging Law 101 on tubetorial.com

  21. wentworth

    reminds me of when Oprah was sued over her comments about Cattle beef. Ranchers said she caused their prices to drop which she probably did but there is also the freedom of press/speech.

    They lost thanks to her high powered attorneys by a large part!
    When you sue a billionaire, most likely you are going to lose.

  22. Mike Seiler

    You mean, I’ve been wasting all of this time reading through your blog for money-making tips and info… when I could have just skipped to the big payout and sued one of your other readers? ;-)

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  26. NiteRyder

    Looks like a test case, will be difficult to find the person responsible for
    their public comments. Seems to be a trend to harm blogging and free
    speech now days on any chat medium and there ard there are many
    problems with this because of so many hacked accounts. It could very
    be that an innocent person may get hurt here.

  27. NiteRyder

    Seems to be the trend now days to prevent people from airing their
    views on any chat medium.

    Could very well be a test case.

    Many problems with this, because of so many hacked accounts, that an innocent person could get hurt here

  28. Marc Macalua

    I got this comment on my blog yesterday. Don’t know if it’s connected with Jeremy’s “case”. Looks spammy though.

    ————————————————

    Hello Marc:

    While investigating the fellow you named in your entry “Another Linkbait Classic From�, we found your website.

    We wonder if you’re aware that that idiot and seo scammer is under investigation?

    So, for linking to him, we hope you’ll not be surprized to get a subpoena soon from us.

    John Hammer (33degrees)

  29. Indigo Black

    Good luck with the case. In the US, defamation cases are difficult to win as the law provides for many “legal” excuses to help keep free speech alive. It is true that first the person has to prove that the comment, was, in fact, untrue, that the person said it with the intent to be malicious and then they have to prove that they were significantly damaged by it.

    Are they naming you as well in the suit or are just using your blog posts as evidence?

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  33. Joe

    Please, if you really want to know the answer to this question and be able to sleep at night, ASK A LAWYER.

    Asking people at random will just give your crap results.

    Though no, to answer your question, there have not yet been any cases directly related to *blogs* but there have been several cases related to online forums and message boards, wherein it was held that the operators of the forums and message boards are not responsible for postings made by 3rd parties.

    I imagine the application to blogs is the same, but like I said, I would check with a lawyer. Initial interviews to discuss situations like this are free, and it will only cost you money if you choose to retain his/her/their services.

  34. Joe

    Cough, that’s correct except for the bit about the opinion. If you make factually false statements of libelous or slanderous nature, it doesn’t matter whether you intended it as fact or as opinion.

  35. Clavis Apocalypticae

    Oooh, the drama…

    Why don’t you take that fatty Google check and get an actual attorney. You look like a shlub soliciting legal advice from random yokels on the internets.

    Also, anyone who uses the word “blogosphere” should be stabbed in the eye with a rusty fork over the internet.

    Good luck.

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  37. Ferrarislave

    I am not sure how that even flies… Don’t thosands of sites do this daily? I mean people posting comments about celebrities, athletes, and others? Seems kind of odd that it only applies to “blogs”.

    Can someone give more info on how this works?

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  40. Mike Seiler

    If it’s not Markus suing someone that left a comment, his post titled Shoemoney & Blogging & Libel would seem to give the impression that it’s him suing you.

    I’m guessing that it’s not the case, since you two seem to have made up–and he even came on the radio show. Maybe he’ll update his post for clarity if that’s not the case.

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  42. Damon Billian

    Perhaps you could check with the EFF? I think that they would be interested in this….
    http://www.eff.org/

    I don’t think you personally could be held liable for comments made by another. Perhaps the situation could be (have been) resolved simply by removing the post?

    I also think it depends on if the person being slandered was a public figure vs. a private figure (I believe the laws are different in this arena…but I could be wrong).

  43. roger

    SHOEMONEY

    I have been in this industry many years and I have never seen anyone generate buzz like you.

    Your site went from not on the net to #66 most popular blog in less then 1 year ?!? AMAZING

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  45. no one of consequence

    Ninety percent of you are completely wrong about what is going on here. Shoe is not being sued. He’s only being compelled by the subpoena to provide information for a court case. He’s a third party, or ‘innocent’ bystander. No one is try to hold Shoe responsible for what someone else said on his blog.

    To put it another way, person A said person B is a moron on Shoe’s blog. Person B didn’t like this and is suing person A. For part of their case person B probably needs to prove it was person A and has to get that information from Shoe.

    Try looking up what a subpoena is, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subpoena.

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  47. SeoTools

    I can’t wait to see what comes of this. Probably another publicity stunt by a webmaster that can’t find traffic any other way. (Not refering to Shoemoney ;))

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  49. Hawaii SEO

    Comedians and cartoonists can mercilessly bash anyone they want with almost no fear of legal consequences. If it was a comment that mocks a work or person, not necessarily to criticize, but in order to make a joke then it’s protected free speech. Parody is almost always negative and often slanderous but if it was just a joke, then I believe it’s protected.

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  51. Derek Hail

    I find this particular post funny after Quadszilla was recently talking about the power of viral hoax marketing.

    I am neither calling this a hoax or Jeremy a liar, but imagine if it were. This is spreading like wildfire.

  52. Arne

    I can’t bad mouth you in “real life”, now can I? So how is this any different to that if it really WAS done with ill intent in mind?
    I don’t understand why so many people are so eager to jump on the “free speech” bandwagon in general.

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  55. Joseph Ferrara.sellsius

    This has happened to James Poling of BlogNYC (now metadish). He was sued by a former playboy playmate for his posts about her. Suit is still pending.
    We posted on it & gave the legal criteria for winning (or losing) a defamation case (libel for written defamation). Here’s the link
    http://blog.sellsiusrealestate.com/?p=1144

    Bottom line: Defamation is very hard case to win because damages are tough to prove & a little thing they call the First Amendment protecting opinions. Still it’s costly to defend. A motion for summary judgment is the fastest and cheapest way out.

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  59. Fred

    One of the things I hate about the net is how easily cowards can hide behind screen names and flame people, in many cases w/o proof.

    I hate that Shoe is involved, but maybe lawsuits like this will cause the foolish among us to think twice before blasting someone, especially without proof. My philisophy is to talk no different online than I would if I were in a face to face convo…..

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  63. Andre

    You can SUE ANYBODY for ANYTHING in this country. The question is, can you WIN? In this case, I think the answer is no.

  64. bryan

    There was a recent decision in philadelphia about a web site owner who ran forums, and he was sued by someone who was claiming defamation by another person in the forums. they lost. Can’t remember the citation now, but basically, the Forum owner was protected as an ISP would be.

  65. Christoph C. Cemper

    I agree with Andre – you could sue anybody for anything….

    strictyly speaking you are a media publisher and reliable for what’s on your website… but IMHO the person sueing must first give you a chance to react to proof good will… at least that’s my european understanding of your crazy laws … (well it’s not so far from that in Europe)

    I just relate this to the Traffic Power Sucks case from Aaron Wall, which was won by him finally…

  66. Barry

    This is truly an amazing story. If I understand you correctly, you are refraining from further comment on this issue until your attorney advises you that it is safe for you to speak about it again. If I understand what the true gravity of the situation here, with respect to the issue, it seems to me that at least one person’s freedom of speech has already been limited.

  67. James

    I’m no legal mind, but I’ve often wondered how comments on any forum could be construed. I see posts all the time that cause huge fights among individuals complete with name calling and worse. It will be interesting to see where this goes, as it could impact not only bloggers but forum owners as well.

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  69. Ken Savage

    I think I can one up ya Jeremy. I got subpoena ‘s to show up in a child rape case because I posted an artcile about how I felt about this guy and after 2300+ comments the guy’s lawyer now thinks I had a big part in contaminating the jury pool in the area and he wants to move the trial to someplace else.
    I’ve been ordered to bring all corespondance to the court date and print out all the pages of my site. BS!!!!

    Any advice for me? I was also given a check for $15 to cover my expenses for the day.

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  76. jimbo

    i heard of one case, it was on dontdatehimgirl.com supposedly a guy was suing the site for slanderuos remarks made about him that could not be proven…hope this helps

  77. Jonk

    This is ironic!

    I got a big law threat once because of a comment on my website
    I immediately told everyone I knew. That is still my number 1 day for traffic.

  78. max

    One blogger actually called me up and threatened me with legal consequences if I would take down the negative comments I had on my blog to one of his -review-blog. But I got back to him saying if he really though I could voice my personal opinion about his blog he should take it down.

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  81. Webgal

    The whole blog and you tube culture is causing quite a stir in legal circles lately. I mean if I spill hot coffee on myself while reading your blogs should I then sue to get enough to send my sons to college? That’s how the case sounds to me. Just that ridiculous, just that absurd. I know of no precedent but I’m not a lawyer. Let’s hope there is never a precedent that finds for the guy who filed a complaint like this one.

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  83. Anthony

    This is crazy…. suing because someone slandered you on a blog…I really have to laugh. I would think all you have to do not to get slandered is not read the individual post or just don’t visit the blog.

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  85. Michael Roberts - Internet Libel Victim's Advocate

    Jeremy, there is a lot of bad legal advise being posted in the respinses. I suggest you do not act or refrain from acting without the advice of a competent legal expert, that warning extends to my advice too.

    generally speaking you are personally immune to liability as you are merely a conduit. Unless you are the author or substantially modify the offensive materials. Also, i do not believe that there are any restrictions on you discussing the matter, unless the court has specifically ordered you not to (Subjudicy).

    Above all else, just do what is right.

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  88. Molly

    Wow– this is pretty ridiculous. First, I’m not sure how YOU are being sued.. as the comment was not written by you, but apparently your blog is to blame as it was the space in which it was posted. That’s pretty crappy… freedom of speech doesn’t apply here?

    -Molly
    Antique Jewelry

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