Archive for the ‘Michael’s Blog’ Category

Precedent: Third-Party Web Site Hosting Company Held Responsible for Contributing To Infringement.

A South Carolina jury recently awarded a US$70,250 verdict against Bright Builders, Inc. Never before has a third party web host company been liable for contributory trademark infringement without actually receiving notification from the trademark owner that their patron’s domain promotes forged goods for sale. South Carolina Dist. jdg. M. Seymour’s Mar 14 2011 judgment in “Roger Cleveland Golf Co. versus Prince” came after the jury’s March 10 verdict.

The jury awarded a $2,750 statutory redress verdict against website owners Christopher Prince and his business Prince Distribution LLC for trademark counterfeiting and infringement.

The panel found that Bright Builders and Christopher Prince are both guilty for Prince’s website, for selling counterfeit products.

Christopher Finnerty the Plaintiff’s lead attorney said of Third Party Internet Service Providers:

“They can’t remain willfully blind and wait for the brand owner to provide notice”

“A web-hosting company’s obligation is similar to that of a landlord’s”, Finnerty declared.

“A landlord doesn’t have the obligation to act as an investigator against his tenants to find out they are doing anything illegal, but once they knew or should have known, they have to act” Mr. Finnerty said. “How is that any different online?”

“The defendant Bright Builders basically had a heightened duty and they didn’t comply with it” attorney for Bright Builders Christopher Lizzi said. “The jury came back knowing my client acknowledged his fault in this in the beginning and was trying to be lenient on him.”

I believe this is a wonderful example where the common people of a jury bring justice, wisdom and equity back into the justice system which is too often mis-interpreted by judges who will reconstruct the original intent of a law such as §230(c) of the CDA at the expense of equity. I hope that in the not too distant future the same finding will be made by jurors with respect to third-party ISPs and Search Engines that refuse to delete malicious,deceptive, denigrative and emotionally debilitating statements made by anti-social antagonists leveled against their helpless victims. Unfortunately, the managers who make policy strategies for these Internet hosts, blog sites and Search Engines will often leave their consciences at home for the sake of their corporation’s bottom line profits. They give little or no consideration for the phsycological and vocational costs borne by the targets of the antagonist’s fulmination.

Libel is seen by most nations, including the USA to be a personal injury; a third-party ISP or Search Engine should be as socially responsible with respect to removing fictitious and hurtful internet publications as their staff would be to stop a thug is trouncing a little olf lady on the sidewalk.

Above, the attorney Finnerty so concisely but rhetorically asks us: “How is that any different online?”….; I now ask my readers the same question with respect to online defamation, internet libel and cyber bullying. But it is not rehtorical, please communicate your views in the comments section below.

New Book “The Offensive Internet”

“The Offensive Internet,”edited by University of Chicago Law School, Professor Saul Levmore & Professor Martha Nussbaum.
“The Internet Anonymity Problem,” argues that on the Internet speech is absurdly free — more free, for instance, than the proverbial writing on the bathroom wall. Levmore cites a case in which the owner of a bar was found liable for defamatory graffiti in his bar’s bathroom, which he failed to remove despite knowing about it. And yet his modern-day equivalent, an Internet service provider or website administrator, is explicitly protected from that kind of liability by the Communications Decency Act. At least the bathroom wall, Levmore points out, serves another purpose; many websites, like the now-defunct JuicyCampus, exist solely for the purpose of anonymous libel and rumor-mongering. Today the bathroom wall is permanent, global, and has a search box.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt Convicted of Defamation in France for “Google Suggest” Function

Google’s ill-famed “Search Suggest” algorithm is kind of fun and mildly amusing whenever it reads our minds successfully; but it’s a torment when your company trademark is accompanied by “defraud”. One French man has won an Internet libel action against Google and its chief executive officer Eric Schmidt in his editorial capacity at Google head quarters in California. The court concluded that Mr. Schmidt was ultimately responsible for prompting words akin to “satanist” and “rapist” after the petitioner’s name. Evidently in this situation the plaintiff has previously been convicted for “corruption of a minor”; thus Google might have a good argument in the potential appeal.

Defamation is a felony in most EU nations, as it is in seventeen US states. I am not sure if this case is civil or criminal. The €1 judgment suggests that the Court perceived that the complainant is a low life, effectively valuing his character at zero. I support the precedent, but can’t bring myself to rejoice considering this man’s prior convictions.