Monthly Archives: May 2013

Arizona Benefit Corporations: Business Registration Category

Arizona Benefit Corporation Business Category
Arizona has a new type of business category — benefit corporation.

Is your startup equally interested in do-goodery and money? If yes, consider registering your company in Arizona, because Gov. Jan Brewer just signed Senate Bill 1238 into law. The legislation allows for a new business category in The Grand Canyon State – Benefit Corporations.

Arizona Benefit Corporations: Between Profit Corps. And Non-Profits

Arizona’s new business class is perfect for companies that want to be a positive force in their communities –social or environmental, big or small – while at the same time enjoying a healthy bottom line. In the simplest terms, the Arizona benefit corporation is a hybrid of a regular corporation and a charitable organization.

Tax Benefits Of An Arizona Benefits Corporation

Don’t, however, jump to conclusions and assume using the Arizona benefit corporation classification will save you money in taxes. In fact, on the face it won’t as the category is in the same tax bracket as a traditional corporation. That said, using the classification may put organizations in a favorable position for certain types of grants and endowments. So, what you may not save in taxes, you may gain via funding avenues traditionally slated for non-profits.

Other Characteristics of the Arizona Benefit Corporation

Other features of the Arizona benefit corporation business category:

  1. Companies that choose to register as a benefit corporation in Arizona must include an update on the group’s “public good initiatives” in their annual report.
  2. Arizona benefit corporations must consider how their operations impact the interests of customers, employees, community and investors. (In a traditional corporation, the investors’ interests are the primary concern.)

Arizona Is Pioneer Of This New Business Model

Arizona is one of the first states to adopt the benefit corporation business classification. B Lab, “a non-profit organization dedicated to using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems” is working nationally to promote the benefit corporation agenda. B Lab hopes that marrying the business world the charitable world will produce the greatest amount of good. They also believe the new benefit corporation business registration will help consumers to differentiate between good marketing and genuine good intentions.

Arizona Business Attorney For Startups & Established Businesses

If you want to learn more about the Arizona benefit corporation business registration, contact Kelly Warner Law. We handle business law, compliance, litigation and registration issues for startups and established businesses.

Goldman On The UK Defamation Act of 2013

UK defamation act of 2013
Officials in the UK passed a new libel law, but will it be effective?

Last month, the United Kingdom finally green lit some new defamation statutes. Parliamentarians had negotiated on terms for over three years. Their main goals were to reduce the number of libel tourism cases filed in the country, plus fortify free speech protections for journalists and bloggers.

Sides argued, lobbyists cajoled and Parliament debated. When the machinations ended, the nation passed a new libel law on April 25, 2013 ( Took effect on 1/1/2014). Entitled the Defamation Act of 2013, the statute was touted as a much needed libel law adjustment, 128 years in the making.

But like many laws, the devil is in the detail. To wit, the Godfather of 21st century Internet law theory, Eric Goldman, articulated potential problems with the Defamation Act of 2013. The burden the new law places on website operators may have the opposite effect than officials intended.

UK’s New Defamation Law

The UK Defamation act of 2013 passed on April 25, 2013. Generally speaking, the bill tightened the country’s libel tourism provisions and added a bit more meat to their free speech statutes. At least that’s the message dominating the media. But as Goldman points out, Section 5 of the bill – which deals with “Operators of Websites” — may result in unforeseen consequences.

Section 5 of the UK Defamation Act of 2013 establishes a notice-and-takedown process for user generated content (UGC). According to the law, a website cannot be sued for online libel if the plaintiff doesn’t first send a takedown request. If they don’t act with malice, webmasters who edit their sites are still eligible for protection under the law.

As is often the case, however, a “rub” exists. Under the UK Defamation Law of 2013, a website operator cannot claim immunity if they are unable to provide identifying information about users. In other words, a webmaster is only safe if he or she can hand over information that allows the alleged victim to track down their defamer. So what does that mean in practical use? In all likelihood, people who run UK-based websites will probably remove material the second they get a request to do so. Sure, they could start verifying the identity of every person using their sites, but the effort and cost involved probably isn’t worth it.

The other potential problem Goldman highlights is that unlike the Section 230 of the CDA, the UK defamation law doesn’t include any consequences for filing a false takedown request. To put it simply, the omission could cause headaches – and end up clogging up the courts. (Ironic, since one of the original goals of the bill was to reduce the amount of frivolous defamation lawsuits.)

Goldman’s On-point Theory About UK’s New Defamation Law

In an article on Forbes.com entitled, UK’s New Defamation Law May Accelerate The Death of Anonymous User-Generated Content Internationally, Eric Goldman opines that “the act’s most change to existing law is creating a user identification obligation.” He also points out that “having a user’s IP address doesn’t seem to satisfy the act.”

Goldman also deftly explains that the new UK defamation act does not restrict third party access to data for defamation litigation purposes only, which means anybody will be able to subpoena websites for identifying information. So, expect people to use the law for various intellectual property issues, as well.

What Will The Future Hold For The UK Defamation Act of 2013?

Welp, at this point, there is no stopping the UK Defamation Act of 2013. It’s the new law of Her Majesty’s land that goes into effect on January 1, 2014. That said, it will be interesting to see if the new statutes will create fresh problems.

Social Media Defamation: Can I Sue The Creator Of A Facebook Group?

facebook logo to accompany a blog post discussing the question: can i sue the creator of a Facebook groupBelow, we answer some Facebook defamation questions, like “Can I sue the creator of a Facebook group?”

Can I Sue Someone Who Defames Me On Their Personal or Business Facebook Page?

Yes. If a person publicly posts an untrue, harmful statement about you on Facebook, you can sue for online libel.

opinion is not defamation
Remember: Opinion is NOT Defamation!

Opinion Is Not Defamation

Remember: Statements of opinion, parody, and satire, are not considered defamatory in the United States. Moreover, different standards of proof apply for public and private citizens.

Pay Mind To Defamation Statute of Limitations

Also, the defamation statute of limitations is short. So, if you’re serious about suing over Facebook defamation, it’s best to start the process sooner, rather than later.

Can I Sue The Creator Of A Facebook Group For Online Defamation?

Yes. If you know the name of the person who created the group. If you only know your adversary’s online alias, a suit is still possible , it’ll just take a few extra steps.

Facebook defamation law
People don’t have to like you, but you can sue for defamation if they lie about you.

People Don’t Have To Like You

If people don’t like you, they’re allowed to shout, “I think you’re terrible!” from the rooftops – and on the Internet. It’s also not libelous to share truth or opinion online – but it is defamatory to spread inaccurate gossip.

Defamation Isn’t The Only Tort At Your  Disposal

Truthful, embarrassing statements may not be considered defamatory, but other civil torts – like right of publicity or false light – can sometimes be used to stop someone from spreading private, humiliating information without authorization.

Can I Sue Facebook For Defamation?

If you’re a U.S. citizen, the chances of winning a defamation lawsuit against Facebook — the corporation — are between slim and none. It’s not impossible, but the mega-corp – like all other websites – is protected under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

In simple terms, section 230 of the CDA provides safe harbor protection for ISPs and website operators in the event a third-party user posts defamatory material.

If An Individual Uses An Alias, Will Facebook Give Me The Person’s Real Name in service of a lawsuit?

anonymous defamation
YES! You can still sue the creator of a Facebook group or page even if you don’t, at first, have the individual’s name.

Whether or not a website will divulge user information almost always depends on the circumstances of a case. Typically, websites won’t reveal identifiable information in service of personal lawsuits — unless directed by a U.S. court order. That said, as a matter of law, many site operators willingly lend a digital hand in cases of imminent danger.

Entangled In A Facebook Defamation Web?

If you’re looking to unmask an anonymous individual for the purposes of a defamation lawsuit, hire a libel lawyer with experience tracking down unknowns.

If you are looking to sue the creator of a Facebook group for defamation, Kelly Warner law is here to help. Contact us to begin the conversation.

Jerk.com Legal Matters: Personal Review Website Under FTC Investigation

review website law
Jerk.com may be facing FTC censure.

Review Websites Are An Internet Staple

RipOffReport, Yelp and other niche market review sites are Internet staples. And while review websites can sometimes present a problem for businesses, they can also serve as great advertising tool. Sure, a surly customer could sully your reputation for a stint, but more often than not, happy customers share glowing testimonials, which helps boost business.

A New Type Of Online Review Site (It’s Now Getting Personal)

At around the time social media started to take hold, a new type of “review site” grew in popularity. People got bored with rating products and services. So, they gravitated to new types of review sites – ones where users “reviewed” each other. In fact, if you believe Aaron Sorkin’s Facebook creation myth, a crude version of a “Hot or Not” site was the genesis of Zuckerburg’s now ubiquitous online hangout.

Jerk.com 101

Jerk.com is one of the more popular “personal review websites” around. It features user-generated content and ranking functionalities. Some believe the platform also features questionable “automated content.” Jerk.com’s rules about who can post a profile are, shall we say, less than strict. As such, it’s easy for users to create unflattering pages about their least favorite people.

In their nascent days, Jerk.com loved free speech so much that, according to Gene Quinn, the company allegedly refused to remove material about a 10-year-old target. In fact, again according to Quinn, in the past, Jerk.com was extremely reluctant to remove any material.

But like Internet laws, Jerk.com has evolved. Most notably, the social media site says they now adhere to DMCA takedown procedures. Moreover, “Remove” is the second item on their website menu – which, if clicked, takes you to a pay for removal portal of which Al Capone would be proud.

Jerk.com Lawsuits & Detractors

As you’d imagine, since its inception, Jerk.com has had its fair share of detractors. But what recently caught officials’ attention were allegations that Jerk, LLC wasn’t following COPPA regulations. COPPA – The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act – is a strict law that aims to safeguard the personally identifiable information of all citizens aged 13 and under. COPPA violation fees are steep and the FTC is always on the hunt for violators.

After the FTC investigation was underway, material surfaced which raised the question: was COPPA the only issue of concern, or did Jerk.com’s profile generation methods also skirt the law?

This April, the FTC denied Jerk, LLC’s motion to quash a civil investigative demand which focused on the company’s site, Jerk.com. As a result, the FTC will continue to investigate the website’s content generation methods as they relate to the PII of minors and profile creation.

Are you dealing with an online defamation issue? A COPPA issue? If yes, get in touch. Kelly Warner is a full service defamation and Internet law legal practice. We’ve helped many others and can do the same for you.

Are You Liable For Retweeting A Defamatory Post: TMZ Case Study

twitter icon to accompany blog post about liable for retweeting a defamatory post or statement
Am I liable for retweeting a defamatory statement on social media?

Is it unlawful to retweet a defamatory statement? Is it OK to mention a libelous article on social media? A California judge ruled on the issue. Her decision: discussing potentially defamatory articles on social media doesn’t mean you will be held liable for libel. You can be; but not always.

Case Study: Are You Liable For Retweeting A Defamatory Post?

According to reports, on September 13, 2011, Devin Ebanks – a forward for the Los Angeles Lakers – left a club with a woman. Later that night, the woman was in contact with law enforcement officials; she claimed Ebanks raped her; he insisted that they never had sex.

The night of the incident, the woman filed a rape complaint against Ebanks, and the police opened an investigation. After several days, TMZ reported that the police completed an investigation and cleared Ebanks. According to the gossip website, law enforcement officials didn’t find evidence of “foreign DNA” on the accuser. Plus, reports surfaced that the claimant had allegedly made unfounded sexually related claims against other professional athletes.

Social Media Conversation Leads To Twitter Defamation Lawsuit

The day that TMZ published the story, Ebanks tweeted with his friend, Junior. (Junior happened to be the guy who set-up Ebanks and his accuser.) During the online back-and-forth, Ebanks jibed Junior about never setting him up with another woman.

Time passed, and presumably still unsatisfied, the woman filed a Jane Doe sexual assault civil complaint against Ebanks. Curiously, in her filing, Doe argued that since Ebanks tweeted about the contents of the TMZ article, he committed online libel. The claim had legal people wondering: “Are people liable for retweeting a defamatory statement?” Doe’s lawyer reasoned:

“When defendant responded to the Twitter message, ‘I’m glad you got cleared on that incident,’ Defendant Ebanks adopted the false statements included in the TMZ article, thus defaming Plaintiff Jane Doe.”

In other words, since TMZ’s article was ‘salacious’ and Ebanks’ Twitter messages “were not about rape (and therefore not a matter of public interest),” his actions were self-serving and done to gather ammunition against his accuser.

Anti-SLAPP Response To Twitter Defamation Claim & Judge’s Ruling

Ebanks countered Jane Doe’s suit with an Anti-SLAPP motion. The question under consideration: “Can a Twitter user be held liable for re-tweeting or discussing inaccurate information that damages someone’s reputation?” Ultimately, the judge reasoned that, in this case, the defendant didn’t “adopt” the contents, or any possible inaccuracies, of the TMZ article by talking about it on Twitter. Specifically, the judge reasoned:

“While the Twitter conversation and TMZ article were published on the same date, the Twitter conversation does not specifically reference the article other than to speak of the same incident the article covered.”

Are you embroiled in a Twitter defamation melee? We do more than just answer questions like, “Am I liable for retweeting a defamatory statement?” Kelly Warner maintains a dedicated online defamation practice. Get in touch.

Internet Defamation Lawsuits: Brian Burke v. Bloggers

Internet defamation lawsuit Burke
Brian Burke is on an Internet defamation war path!

The NHL playoffs are underway – and so is an Internet defamation legal battle initiated by notorious GM, Brian Burke. The former Toronto Maple Leafs executive is suing over insinuations that he and Sportsnet anchor, Hazel Mae, had an affair. An affair that allegedly produced an heir.

In addition to monetary damages, Burke wants to unmask 18 anonymous online commentators and bar them from posting defamatory content in the future.

Brian Burke’s Internet Defamation Lawsuit: The Background

A few days before this year’s NHL season started, notoriously blunt NHL general manager Brian Burke – who favors “belligerence” and “truculence” – got booted from the Toronto Maple Leafs management team. Most assumed his ousting was a result of the failed Luongo trade. Several bloggers, however, attributed Burke’s canning to an extra marital affair with a TV sport’s reporter Hazel Mae.

Word on the digital street was that Mae had Burke’s baby.

Brian Burke’s Internet Defamation Lawsuit: Did He Exacerbate The Situation

Though the Burke-Mae gossip wasn’t widely publicized – hardly headline news – Burke filed a defamation claim in British Columbia Superior Court. Most legal watchers and attorneys agree that Burke exacerbated the gossip by doing so.

That said, filing a formal complaint allows Burke to publicly denounce the accusations. According to Burke, he chose the defamation lawsuit route “to stop people who post comments on the Internet from thinking they can fabricate wild stories with impunity.”

As for Hazel Mae, she supports Burke’s lawsuit and, like him, “feels strongly that people should be held accountable for writing and spreading malicious lies over the Internet.”

Even Though The Bloggers Removed The Material, The Internet Defamation Case Is Still A Go

Since news of the lawsuit broke, several targeted bloggers removed the allegedly offending material. A cached copy of at least one of the web pages, however, supposedly contains the words “speculation” and “rumors.”

In addition to monetary damages, Burke is seeking injunctions. According to reports, he also wants court orders to uncover the names of anonymous posters.

Are you in need of an attorney who focuses on Internet defamation? Get in touch with Kelly Warner Law today.