Monthly Archives: May 2013

Arizona Benefit Corporations: Business Category

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

Is your startup equally interested in both doing good and making 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 – benefit corporations.

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

Arizona’s new business class is perfect for companies interested in being a positive force in their communities, while simultaneously maintaining a healthy bottom line.

Tax Benefits Of Arizona Benefit Corporations

Will Arizona benefit corporations get a tax break? No. In fact, the category is in the same tax bracket as traditional corporations. 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 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, the community, and their investors. (In a traditional corporation, the investors’ interests are the primary concern.)

Arizona Is A 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 and charitable worlds will produce the greatest good. They also believe the new benefit corporation business registration will help consumers 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 greenlit new defamation statutes. Parliamentarians’ primary goals were to reduce libel tourism, plus fortify free speech protections.

Sides argued, lobbyists cajoled, and Parliament debated. When the machinations ended, the nation passed the UK Defamation Act of 2013 on April 25, 2013 ( Took effect on 1/1/2014).

But like many laws, the devil is in the details. To wit, the Godfather of 21st century Internet law theory, Eric Goldman, articulated potential problems with the Defamation Act of 2013. So, let’s review.

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 bolstered free speech rights. 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 libel if the plaintiff doesn’t first send a takedown request. If they don’t act with malice, webmasters who edit their sites are 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’re 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 alleged victims to track down their defamers.

So what does that mean in practical use? In all likelihood, people who run UK-based websites will probably remove material the second they receive a request. It’s the financially sound option.

Goldman also highlights that the UK reforms don’t include something similar to Section 230 of the CDA. The omission could cause headaches – and wind up clogging the courts. (Ironic, since one the bill’s original goal was to reduce the number of frivolous defamation lawsuits.)

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

In an article 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 reforms don’t restrict access to data for defamation litigation purposes, which means anybody will be able to subpoena websites for identifying information. In other words, 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 and goes into effect on January 1, 2014. 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 If Someone 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 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, start the process sooner rather than later.

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

Yes, if you know 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.

People Don’t Have To Like You

Folks who don’t like you can shout, “I think you’re terrible!” Sharing opinions online is also fine. But it’s defamatory to spread inaccurate gossip.

Defamation Isn’t The Only Tort At Your  Disposal

Truthful, embarrassing statements may not be defamatory, but other civil torts – like right of publicity or false light – can sometimes be used when private, humiliating information is made public without authorization.

Can I Sue Facebook For Defamation?

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 – are 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 Hand Over The Person’s Real Name?

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.

A website’s cooperation in a lawsuit always depends on the circumstances. 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 want to sue the creator of a Facebook group for defamation, Kelly Warner law can answer your questions. Contact us to begin the conversation.

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

jerk.com law Jerk.com, RipOffReport, Yelp, and other niche review sites are now Internet staples. And while review websites can sometimes present a problem for businesses, they can also serve as great advertising tools. 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)

When social media started to flourish, a new type of “review site” became popular. People grew bored with rating products and services, and moved on to rating each other. In fact, if you believe Aaron Sorkin’s creation myth, a crude “Hot or Not” site birthed Zuckerburg’s now ubiquitous online hangout, Facebook.

The Rise Of Personal Review Websites

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, not 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.

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.

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 vouchsafes personally identifiable information of minors aged 13 and under. COPPA violation fees are steep and the FTC is always on the hunt for violators.

During the FTC investigation material surfaced that raised the question: 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. As a result, the FTC will continue to investigate the website’s content generation methods.

Contact An Online Defamation Lawyer

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: A 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 legal 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 necessarily mean you’ll be held liable for libel.

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

On September 13, 2011, Los Angeles Laker Devin Ebanks left a club with a woman. Later that night, the woman contacted law enforcement officials; she claimed Ebanks raped her; he insisted 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 cleared Ebanks. According to the gossip website, law enforcement officials didn’t find evidence of “foreign DNA” on the accuser. Reports also 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 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 people wondering: “Are you 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 Twitter users 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 Case: Brian Burke v. Bloggers

Internet defamation lawsuit Brian 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 NHL GM, Brian Burke. The former Toronto Maple Leafs executive is suing over insinuations that he and Sportsnet anchor, Hazel Mae, had an affair — (which 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 the NHL season started, the Maple Leaf management  booted notoriously blunt general manager Brian Burke. Most assumed his ousting was a result of the failed Luongo trade. Several bloggers, however, tied Burke’s termination to an extra marital affair with a TV sport’s reporter Hazel Mae. And word on the digital street was that Mae birthed 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. Most legal watchers agree: The suit may have exacerbated the gossip.

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.”

Hazel Mae 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 offending material. A cached copy of at least one of the webpages, however, supposedly contains the words “speculation” and “rumors.”

In addition to monetary damages, Burke is seeking injunctions. 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.