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

by Jeremy Schoemaker on September 1, 2006 · 145 comments

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.

full disclosure

About the author...

– who has written 2895 posts on ShoeMoney.com.

Jeremy "ShoeMoney" Schoemaker is the founder & CEO of the ShoeMoney Blog, Elite Retreat Internet Conference, & the PAR Program. In 2013 Jeremy released his #1 Amazon Best selling Autobiography titled "Nothing's Changed But My Change" - The ShoeMoney Story. Jeremy currently lives in Lincoln Nebraska with his wife and 2 daughters.


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{ 107 comments }

1 Jeff

Interesting to say the least, I wonder what post this is in…..

2 Stu

I haven’t heard of a case regarding a blog post or comment but there was a big fuss about a forum posting a couple of years ago here in the uk.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3644610.stm

3 Philip

I’ve not seen it happen with a blog personally but you might want to read this page http://blogcritics.org/archives/2006/04/18/043121.php which talks about people being sued successully for posting comments on the internet.

4 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.

5 ShoeMoney

wow just the comments of that post has some good debate

6 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

7 Ikenna

Wow. Think of the publicity and traffic that will generate for shoemoney.com . Can you get the press involved?

8 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…

9 wentworth

It’s simple. If the person can prove there was a loss, the other person will have to pay up if he or she has any money.

10 Jamie

are you worried about your liability exposure of the liability of the poster?

11 ShoeMoney

I dont know enough about the legal system to know what to worry about =)

12 Dr G

hmmm wonder which one….

13 Dr G

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

14 lawrenceq

Man, that is deep! On the other hand, this is good press.

15 ToddW

I’m very interested to see the outcome of this case.

16 Dr G

Shoe, have you removed any of the particular postings?

17 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..

18 Dr G
19 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.

20 Lee Odden

I would think Aaron Wall from SEOBook.com would have some insightful information for you from his experience earlier this year with Traffic Power.

21 dnic24

my guess it involves this post http://www.shoemoney.com/2006/05/08/plentyoffish-marketing-101-when-all-else-fails-just-lie/ and the exchange between Shawn M. and Markus from plentyoffish.com

22 clint lenard

So sad to hear about these things… what the hell happened to FREEDOM OF SPEECH?

Atleast you’ve got plenty of new traffic rolling in…

Shoemoney 23 Grock

Negative….

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

24 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?

25 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.

26 afmusan

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

27 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”?

28 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.

29 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!

30 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.

31 Jeremy Pepper

I wrote this post a while ago, but maybe there’s some information in here that might be useful.

It was an interview with the NYT general counsel on libel.

32 SEOidiot

Thats terrible…. god im gonna have to be less flippant on my comments everywhere….

33 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.

34 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

35 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.

36 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? ;-)

37 latisha

Sorry to hear about, though it sounds interesting. I don’t think you can be held liable though.

38 Ibrahim

You may contact owner of http://jeffooi.com/ who has had similar experience here in Malaysia. It may be different, but who knows, you may find his advice helpful..

39 Keith L. Dick

I would be talking to a few High Profile Lawyers myself… The better/bigger the law firm I think the better representation you will get…

40 Brian Solis

The blogosphere is watching this one!

41 Bulbboy

Sorry to hear about this but society seems ever more litigious.

On the up side, they do say that any publicity is good publicity!

42 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.

43 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

44 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)

45 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?

46 blandname

I hope you have patience – seems like the law is hitting blogs harder now.

47 Tyler Banfield

Has anyone taken a look at Markus’ blog?

48 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.

49 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.

50 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.

51 Mike Abundo

This blogger stood his ground and scared off his accusers.

52 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?

53 RobinH

Plenty of internet libel law pertaining to online discussions here .

54 rich

Dang nice Link bait ?

55 Amit Patel

If 2 people fight on your blog, why will something be related to u :-S

56 Dylan

It’s nice to see that the majority of people here feel this is ridiculous. :)

57 Miles

Always thinking of the business. :P

58 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.

59 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).

Shoemoney 60 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

61 Kaaosa

In the case of false statements, it then has to be proven that the person knew that what they said was untrue before they said it.

62 Tyler Banfield

It will be very interesting to see how this case works out for you Shoe. I will be keeping track of all the latest developments in the new Shoemoney section of my blog ;)

63 jacob

another great idea to get people linking to your blog.

doubt this is real.

64 macewan

It will be interesting to watch the direction this takes the blogging world. The idea of censoring ones thoughts is alien these days.

65 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.

66 David

Can you say this country really needs tort reform, for that matter the world needs it. I can.

67 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 ;))

68 clint lenard

Let us know of any updates shoe… :)

69 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.

70 Dennis Howlett

Not sure if someone else has said this as I skimmed a fair few of the comments. You can’t slander someone on a blog. But you can libel them.

71 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.

72 Stevie12

It’ll be intresting to see what comes of this,

Definetly intresting for 1 blog post LOL

Your traffic just went up 10 fold hehe.

73 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.

74 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.

75 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…..

76 lisa

Please do research. I dont think you can be sued for this.

77 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.

78 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.

79 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…

80 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.

81 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.

82 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.

83 trish stratus topless

trish stratus topless

http://myblog.es/trish-stratus

84 Bryant Keefe

Why do we care?

85 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

86 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.

87 John

I’m in the same situation – they’ve given me till Monday to remove the commenter’s comment or face a solicitor’s letter/possible legal action. I’ve blogged about it here – might seek legal advice from my Dad this weekend.

88 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.

89 krillz

haha damn, strange things sure happend

90 William

All I have to say is that I enjoy reading your blog A LOT and I agree with your opinions almost always :)

91 AdultTube

Very interesting :)

92 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.

93 Stasigrii

Hello, very nice site, keep up good job!
Admin good, very good.

94 seo outsourcing philippines

The website owner will always be safe in this case. Moderation of comments will prevent this kind of thing from happening.

95 poor jokes

isnt dat a big issue

96 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.

97 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.

98 Portland window cleaning

That sucks….

I would stick with your lawyer’s advice and just zip it for now.

Keep us posted.

99 sandrar

Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

100 breakdown coveruk

Hi administrator I be happy together with your article . could i copy this know-how being my educate examine ? thanks

101 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

102 Affordable Solar Panel

There are absolutely a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That is a great point to bring up. I offer the thoughts earlier mentioned as general motivation but plainly there are questions like the one you deliver up in which the most important thing will be working in honest good faith. I don’t know if best practices have surfaced all-around things like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly revealed as a reasonable game. Both boys and girls feel the impact of just a moments pleasure, for the majority of their lives.

103 suing for slander

I never heard of suing someone for slander in blog comments.I think the suit will be thrown out of court as there is no legal support for this claim.

104 Cory Mongar

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105 knoway

1 of the people is seeking damages for what the other said . Greatefull.

106 kelly

Just wany to say you inspire me. I’ve only just created my blog today. I hav’nt a clue what im doing. I’ve applyed to adsence, but dont think my blog will be ood enough to be accepted. Can you offer ant advise please. thanks

107 kelly

oh yeah, what happened to freedom of speech

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