Ripoff Report Updates Long-Standing Removal Policy

ripoff report removal lawyer
Ripoff Report Removal & Redaction

For the past five years, Ripoff Report’s (ripoffreport.com) removal policy has been a hot topic of debate in the business community. The consumer review website has had a reputation amongst some business owners for not removing any postings – even defamatory ones. In the past, people who wanted to challenge a claim were welcome to post rebuttals and tell their sides of their stories, but the site has always maintained a strict hands-off policy with regards to redacting posts.

Regardless of peoples’ opinions, Ripoff Report’s removal position was (and still is) solid and supported by numerous federal and state laws.

Did Ripoff Report Change Its Removal Policy?

Recently, Ripoff Report has made some significant changes to their redaction policies. Although the arbitration program and corporate advocacy programs are still options, Ripoff Report has recently made a change regarding the redaction of certain information that has been found to be defamatory by a court. According to a Ripoff Report executive, team members at the consumer review portal are still working on implementing a new procedure in which they would voluntarily honor certain court orders under very specific, limited, circumstances. The executive said the policy change was prompted by “respect for the courts and the judicial process.” This is a significant change for Ripoff Report, and should have a positive impact going forward for small businesses that take action against defamatory reviews via the judicial process.

Ripoff Report Will Not Honor All “Removal” Court Orders

Must Mention Defamation

At the very least, for Ripoff Report to even consider honoring a court order, it must specifically mention claims or statements as defamatory or libelous. Even then, it’s unlikely that site administrators will remove the whole report. According to Ripoff Report, the site will give court orders “special prominence” on the relevant pages, and will “redact the information specifically identified as false” under extreme enough circumstances.

We can confirm that Ripoff Report will, indeed, do this in very limited circumstances, and obtained a favorable result for a client very recently. Since every case is different, you shouldn’t assume the same results.

Mandatory Court

Ripoff Report’s new removal policy limits itself to cases where both sides have presented their arguments in court – and then the court found against the author of the contested posting. Default judgments will probably not be accepted. Still, the change is a step forward for those who have been defamed on ripoffreport.com.

Speak To A Ripoff Report Removal Lawyer

Is a false posting on Ripoff Report causing your business hardship? The attorneys at Kelly Warner Law have worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs and businesses in mitigating the effects of defamatory online consumer reviews. If you’ve been “hit,” contact our ripoffreport.com removal attorneys; they’ll be able to review the specifics of your situation and may be able to guide you towards an effective outcome.

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Defamation Law: Is It Defamatory To Say People Were Fired If They Quit?

is it defamatory to say people were fired if they quit
Is it defamatory to say people were fired if they quit? A new lawsuit probes the question.

Is it defamatory to say people were fired if they quit? Former PayPal employee Rakesh Agrawal is testing the legal waters to find out.

Resignations + New Phones + New Orleans / Twitter = Online Defamation Lawsuit

Our story starts the day that Rakesh Agrawal, then director of strategy for PayPal Inc., decided to pull a Jerry McGuire and quit his job in spectacular fashion. Agrawal’s public resignation play? He posted a copy of his “I’m outta here!” letter online.

A day later, Agrawal found himself at the New Orleans Jazz Fest – with a brand new (Chekhov’s) phone. Presumably, jocularity ensued. And by the wee hours of the morning, Agrawal had tweeted a 140-character rant about PayPal’s then global brand and communications officer. The highlights: “piece of $#!+” and “useless middle manager”.

By sun-up, Agrawal had deleted his tirade.

But it turns out that the Watcher in PayPal’s Woods spied Agrawal’s rant before he removed it. And with a dash of middle school ‘tude, the official PayPal Twitter account coughed up this finger wag:

“Rakesh Agrawal is no longer with the company. Treat everyone with respect. No excuses. PayPal has zero tolerance.”

Is It Defamatory To Say People Were Fired If They Quit? I’m Going To File A Lawsuit To Find Out.

When Agrawal heard about PayPal’s “zero tolerance” message, he took things next level and filed a defamation lawsuit against his former employer. Agrawal’s arguments are simple (perhaps to a fault – and of course, we’re paraphrasing here):

  • New Phone Defense: Those were supposed to be private messages, not public tweets! Look, I was using a new phone, of course I messed up!
  • I Blinked First Argument: PayPal never fired me. I quit! And posted a resignation letter a full day before PayPal’s tweet about me!
  • Lost Opportunities: PayPal is making it seem like they fired me for ‘misconduct and disrespect’; it’s misleading and resulted in lost opportunities.

Can An Ex-Employee Win A Twitter Defamation Case Against A Former Employer?

So, does Agrawal have a viable Twitter defamation case? While it’s never wise to augur a judge’s ruling – because the legal devil is always in the brief details – it’s fair to say that Agrawal will have to do some strenuous uphill climbing to win this case. Why?

Carefully Worded Statements v. Reasonable Understanding

For starters, PayPal’s tweet didn’t, specifically tweet: “PayPal fired X because of Y.” Instead, the company went with a carefully worded passage informing readers that Agrawal “was no longer with the company” – which could either mean he was fired or quit. And in defamation cases, judges are required to assume the most innocent interpretation.

Agrawal argues, via his lawsuit, that PayPal’s tweet is:

“reasonably understood by those who read it to mean that plaintiff had been fired by PayPal for misconduct and disrespect.”

But, when weighing defamation case law against the known facts of this case, the argument probably won’t hold up because it’s too subjective an assertion.

Moreover, to win, Agrawal, at the very least, will have to prove:

  • That the PayPal tweet contained a false statement of fact about him. Sure, there is such a thing as “defamation by implication,” but this case doesn’t have the meat needed to make a convincing defamation by implication claim. Especially since U.S. case law demands that the most innocent interpretation be assumed.
  • That PayPal acted negligently in sending out the tweet.
  • That PayPal’s tweet led to material or reputational harm for Agrawal. Lawyers for the plaintiff could try to argue defamation per se, meaning argue that the PayPal tweet was inherently defamatory because it disparaged Agrawal’s professionalism, but it’d be a coin toss as to whether or not a judge – and eventually appeal’s panel – would be convinced by the argument.

But hey, you never know. Sometime the courts surprise.

Reputations are priceless. And in today’s viral market, success involves maintaining a good name. Kelly / Warner is a leader in the internet defamation litigation and reputation management industry. We’ve helped over 800 brands with digital defamation clean-up in the wake of a disparaging campaign or incident.

Contact us to find out how we can revive your good reputation.

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“Is it defamatory to say people were fired if they quit?” is just one of the common slander and libel questions we often field. Check out our blog for more defamation case examples and lawyer advice.

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Is A Nevada Defamation Law Change On The Way?

Nevada defamation law
Is a Nevada defamation law change coming? Will it be a positive move for small businesses in the state?

If Nevada’s defamation bill SB444 passes, it’ll be easier for businesses to protect their online reputations.

True Issue at the Root of Nevada’s Defamation Debate: How Easy Should It Be for Businesses to Sue Online Reviewers?

Should businesses be able to sue customers for leaving bad reviews? What about customers who temporarily part ways with sanity, make  friends with a bottle of pinot,  and decide to spend the night anonymously misdirecting personal frustrations at the Internet in the form of SCREAM TYPED tall tales and fibs about businesses or a nemesis?

In Nevada, lawmakers are tackling the question.

Within the context of the state’s Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) statute, legislators are, essentially, debating where the free speech line ends and the defamation line begins.

Is Nevada’s SB444 Pro Small Business?

Nevada State Bill 444 could be seen as a “pro-SMB” bill, as its goal is to “balance” the law books, making it possible for genuinely wronged businesses to sue online detractors who lie about services or products.

If passed, the law would weaken Nevada’s current SLAPP statute by requiring less pretrial demonstrations of case fitness. As a result, more business plaintiffs could move forward with slander and libel lawsuits against online defamers instead of having the claims quashed early in the litigation process.

Nevada Defamation Bill Already Passed, But Now There Are Some SLAPP Problems

A couple of months ago, Nevada legislators actually passed SB444, unanimously. But since gavel, opposition groups have stepped in – and now Nevadan politicians are arguing about defamation law.

What would happen is SB444 Passes?

If the Nevada defamation bill is green lit, Nevada’s anti-SLAPP law would lose some litigation weight, if you will. Opponents argue that weakening it would be a palpable blow to constitutional rights. SB444 Proponents, however, think SB444 brings “much needed balance” to the state’s slander and libel standards, which will ultimately help small business owners effectively deal with malicious defamers.

Click here to learn more about Nevada’s slander and libel laws. If you need to speak with a defamation lawyer about a case involving a Nevada business or person, get in touch.

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Thanks to a network of attorneys, Kelly / Warner can litigate Nevada defamation cases.
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Texas Defamation Law Change: Whistle-blowing Parameters

Texas defamation law change whistle blowing
Texas’ libel law has been updated.

Texas journalists and bloggers no longer have to cower in the face of whistle-blowing reports, because legislators have adopted an amendment to the Texas defamation law. From now on, journalists in the Lone Star State can report on corporate whistle-blowing speculations and scandals — without fear of a being slapped with a questionable lawsuit.

Texan Reporters Accused of Defamation on the Regular by Deep Pocketed Parties

All state defamation laws must stick to the framework of the federal standard, but state slander and libel laws tend to feature a twist – a legal accessory that sparkles with regional flair. For example, in stoic, British-emulating Massachusetts, in some instances, a plaintiff can win a defamation lawsuit even if the defendant is telling the truth. And in no-tattle Texas, state defamation laws meant journalists often held back on stories involving whistle blowers, for fear of being hit with a costly – job threatening – defamation lawsuit.

Defamation Bill Approved By Texas Senate: Affects Whistle-blowing Defamation Cases

In 2014, the Supreme Court of Texas made a decision that prompted a law change regarding certain aspects of whistle-blowing defamation cases. Due to the way the law was written, journalists were being found liable for libel, even though their stories were based on solid reporting work; they were being punished, despite engaging in proper due diligence, when their sources got information wrong.

In a way, the previous Texas defamation law was the State’s free speech pink elephant. One of the bill’s authors, Sen. Joan Huffman, articulated the need for the change when she explained: “accuracy in reporting [should be] a defense to libel.”

And from here on out accurate reporting will be an workable defense against defamation in Texas, as the governor signed the bill into law at the end of May.

Speak With A Texas Defamation Lawyer

Though based in Arizona, Kelly / Warner lawyers are licensed to practice in Texas. We have helped hundreds of clients with all manners of online defamation and reputation issues. Contact us to begin the conversation.

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Finance Analyst Awarded Millions In Professional Defamation Ruling

professional defamation case study
A young banker is several million dollars in the green thanks to a favorable defamation ruling.

A finance broker sued colleagues for professional defamation and won millions of dollars in damages. The reputation-related case serves as a cautionary tale against workplace gossiping.

Meet Svetlana Lokhova: Finance Prodigy & Reputation Attack Victim

With a history degree in hand, Svetlana Lokhova – a Cambridge University grad – eschewed ruins for rubles when she took a job with big money brokerage firm Sberbank CIB.

Moving On Up The Corporate Ladder

Go-getter Lokhova quickly climbed the Sberbank rungs; within a few years, she was banking the big bucks. But Lokhova’s meteoric rise was not without turbulence. According to reports, she locked horns with colleagues over insider trading allegations, and eventually opted to alert authorities about the indiscretions.

Whistleblowing

In the whistleblowing wake, things at the office became untenable for the academic-turned-banker. According to Lokhova, colleagues attacked her reputation, mercilessly. Hecklers taunted: “Mad Svetlana”, “Miss Dodgy Septum” and “Crazy Miss Cokehead”. The Sberbank bullies even went so far as to label Lokhova a “chemically dependent…b*tch” and “major car crash”.

Workplace Gossip Becomes Brutal

Work became a living nightmare for Lokhova, and the office atmosphere had a “seriously detrimental effect on [her] health.” According to her, the situation also triggered “chronic and long-term symptoms” that drove her to “mental collapse”.

But instead of letting her detractors get the better of her, Lokhova fought back via a legal action.

The Central London Employment Tribunal Weighs In On Lokhova’s Professional Defamation Case

Lokhova took her case to the Central London Employment Tribunal (CLET), an official body, with authority to rule on certain workplace legal disputes. Preemptively, Lokhova took a drug test – and passed – to prove the addiction accusations false. After reviewing the facts, the CLET sided with Lokhova, awarding her a total of $2.3 million.

Though pleased with the decision, Lokhova lamented that she “could never return to financial services again” because “everybody knows everybody’s business in banking and people believe there is no smoke without fire. My reputation has been shredded.”

Maturely, instead of decrying the tribunal’s ruling, a Sberbank spokesperson vowed that the finance firm is “committed to take on board any lessons to be learned.”

Speak With A Professional Defamation Lawyer

A pioneer in the field of Internet defamation law, Kelly / Warner Law has successfully handled hundreds of reputation-related cases for finance professionals and firms. We pride ourselves on resolving challenges quickly – and in our clients’ favor.

Click here learn more about our trade libel and professional defamation legal practice. If you’re ready to speak with an attorney, contact us; one of our experienced lawyers will be in touch within hours.

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Think Before You .SUCK

.suck website legalities
.Suck websites are here. But before you take revenge on a rival, read about the potential legal ramifications over going overboard with a “suck site”.

They’re heeerrrreeee…..

Ladies and gents, we’re entering a new era of the Internet. For some time now, we’ve been freed from boring, generic top-level domains, like .com, .net, .org and .biz. Now, we can feast on spicy gTLDs, like .tv and .[your hometown].

And digital things are about to get more attention-grabbing, because .suck is now an available option. [Get ready judges, because we sense a new wave of Internet defamation lawsuits is on the way.]

Vox Populi Registry Ltd. “owns” the rights to the new gTLD — and is responsible for the roll out. The company makes money any time someone buys a .suck website.

How Much Do  The “Suck Sites” Cost?

Currently, .suck domains are only available to celebrities and trademark holders. This rarefied group must shell out around $2,000 per URL. According to reports, the company selling the .suck domains priced them high to deter malicious, cybersquatting actions.

In September, however, we “regulars” who want to own the .suck sites, for our businesses or names, can buy them for $9.95. However, if you choose this option, forget about using a website design of your choosing. Instead, you’re limited to using the registrar’s generic forum platform.

Is The .Suck Scheme a “Predatory Shakedown”? The Mega-Corps Think So.

Guess who isn’t happy about the .suck top-level domain option? Giant corporations, including Microsoft, Ebay and Verizon.

The mega-corps are so concerned about .suck sites that they’ve sicked one of their lobbying groups on the issue. Formally, the group has asked that the .suck roll out be postponed, calling it a “predatory…shakedown scheme.” Moreover, the companies believe that the general sign-up set to commence in September is “an essential element of Vox Populi’s coercive scheme.”

And the big wigs may get their way, as ICANN has yet to shoot down the lobby group’s request. As you probably already imagined, Vox Populi insists that it isn’t doing anything against the law or ICANN regulations.

The Consequences of an Ill-Advised .Suck Website

If you’re reading this, licking your revenge chops, and thinking: “Yes! I am so getting a .suck site to berate [insert name of enemy or business you hate],” you may want to slow your .suck roll.

Why?

Because you could find yourself on the losing side of a lawsuit.

What you can be charged with if you go too far with your .suck site about a person or business:

  • Defamation: It’s not illegal to say something negative about another person or business, but it is illegal to make a malicious, unprivileged, false statement of fact about another person or businesses.
  • False Light: In some jurisdictions, it’s illegal to paint an inaccurate picture of an individual that damages their reputation.
  • Trade Libel: Spreading untruths about a service or business is considered product disparagement, and it’s against the law.
  • Online Harassment: Threatening, stalking or otherwise mercilessly harassing a person is squarely illegal in every state.
  • Cyberbullying: Some jurisdictions have cyberbullying laws on the books that can be used for various types of online harassment.
  • Revenge Porn: Every week, another state is ratifying a revenge porn law. For an updated list, head here.

Get In Touch With An Internet Lawyer

Kelly / Warner Law is an Internet law firm. We work with both individuals and businesses that are dealing with online legal issues. To learn more about the firm, click here. To get in touch, click here. To set up a consultation, click here.

Thanks to our nationwide network of attorneys, Kelly / Warner handle cases in all 50 U.S. states. We also work with businesses based in Europe, Canada, Asia and Australia. Contact us.
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ATTN DENTISTS: YOUR PATIENT CONTRACT MAY BE MOOT

dentist patient contract law
A popular dentist contract, which addressed online reviews, is now unenforceable.

ATTN DENTISTS: If you’re using a patient contract that asserts copyright ownership of online reviews, it’s time to get it updated. Why? Because judges have decided that those types of agreements are no longer enforceable.

Doctor and Dentist Patient Contract That Confer Copyrights of Online Reviews

In the not too distant past, and in an effort to curtail negative online reviews, many dentists used a patient contract with an online copyright clause. Essentially, patients signed away their copyrights to online reviews regarding the dentist’s performance – good or bad.

Why?

Because if someone posted a negative review, the dentist could simply submit a DMCA take down request to get the bad evaluation removed from the Web. Some contracts even included a clause asserting a fee for every day the negative review remained online.

Used To Work, But Judges Caught On, And Are Now Putting An End To It

Once patients clued in to the parameters of these “patient copyright contracts,” they rang the caveat emptor alarms. Quickly, and due to lawsuits, judges were able to weigh in on the validity of these contracts.

The Judges’ overwhelming verdicts? These types of patient contracts are not enforceable because, in the United States, you can’t preemptively extinguish someone’s free speech rights.

Patient: 1, Dentist: 0

Recently, a new York court heard a patient v. dentist online review case. Ultimately, the judge ruled that the contract – which claimed copyrights and forbade future negative reviews – was unconstitutional and unenforceable.

In the judge’s exact words:

“[Online copyright control contracts] constitute breaches of fiduciary duty and violations of dental ethics and are subject to the equitable defenses of unclean hands, and, as to such assignment and assertion, constitute copyright misuse.”

In this case, however, no money will likely exchange hands because three years ago the dentist involved vanished; never to be heard from again.

Speak With A Dentist Defamation Lawyer

Kelly / Warner Law works with both doctors and patients. We’ve helped medical professionals get negative reviews removed from the Internet, and we’ve also assisted patients who’ve been unfairly sued for online defamation over a less-than-glowing missives.

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To learn more about our online defamation practice, click here. If you’re ready to speak with one of our experienced lawyers with patient contract drafting experience, set up a consultation. Contact us.

Could a Paid Online Review Writer Go To Jail?

paid online review legalities
Writing fake reviews could land you in jail.

Is An Online Review Poster Going To Jail?

A paid online review rabble-rouser is in deep poo over a Google Maps review. His name is Jason Page; he lives in the United Kingdom, and he made the giant mistake of leaving a fake review on the page of a Colorado-based lawyer, Timothy Bussey. Now, Page is out $50,000 and may have to spend some time in the clink.

Paid Online Review Sparks International Lawsuit

Page labeled Bussey “a scumbag” and accused the attorney of “paying for positive reviews.” Page also alleged that Bussey “loses 80% of his cases.”

Perhaps Page thought he was in the clear since he lived in the UK and Bussey in the United States. After all, who was going to waste time and money going after a kid, who still lived with his parents, over a lousy online review, right?

Wrong.

Page’s defamatory missive caused Bussey serious financial setbacks. People would read the online review and click away to another attorney. So, Bussey did what any lawyer would do – he subpoenaed Google and procured information that led to unearthing Page’s real identity.

Police & Judge Don’t Believe Troll

When law enforcement officials approached Page, he denied culpability. The lawyer detractor blamed his status as a sub-Reddit moderator for the mishap, alleging that hackers were repaying him for a decision he made in that role.

But the judge wasn’t moved by Page’s pleas. In fact, he called it “extremely improbable.”

Bussey has suspicions that Page may have been paid to leave the bad review, and he is continuing to pursue the case. So, if you’re guilty, watch out – sounds like Bussey is still on the hunt!

Online Trolling Is Illegal; You Could End Up In Jail or Be Bankrupted

Many people think that online trolling and writing a paid online review is perfectly legal. Still others believe that a VPN will protect them from being uncovered. Neither of these things is true. It is possible to unearth the names of anonymous trolls – even when they use cloaking techniques.

Now, not all trolls will land behind bars. But that doesn’t mean they won’t have civil legal actions brought against them. Even if individuals don’t engage in criminal activity or online stalking, they can still be sued for:

Got Questions? Speak With An Online Harassment Attorney

Kelly / Warner Law has considerable experience with international Internet law cases. As a full-service practice, we handle cases ourselves. In addition, we act as the U.S. arm for overseas firms that need assistance from U.S-based lawyers for various court order and motion needs.

Kelly / Warner has an excellent track record and our attorneys are exceptionally knowledgeable when it comes to the law regarding fake and paid online review issues. Contact us.

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Defamation Law 101: A Two-Minute Legal Guide

defamation law introductory legal guide
An easy-to-digest defamation legal guide.

The Four Pillars of Defamation Law (AKA, What You Must Prove To Win A Defamation Lawsuit)

Legally, defamation is more than just “trash talk”; it’s an unprivileged and false statement of fact that causes the subject material or reputational harm. At the bare minimum, in the United States, to a win a slander (spoken defamation) or libel (written defamation) lawsuit, a plaintiff must prove:

  • That the defendant either published or publicly broadcast an unprivileged lie;
  • The “untruth” was about the plaintiff;
  • The statement under review caused material or reputational harm to the plaintiff; and
  • That the defendant acted with either a) negligence or b) actual malice.

What Is The Best Way To Avoid Defamation?

We’re defamation law attorneys, and, therefore, often asked: “How can I avoid being defamed?”

Unfortunately, there isn’t an answer to this question. In a way, it’s like asking: “How can I avoid rain for the rest of my life?” You’re not in control of the weather, nor are you in control of other people’s actions.

No matter how wonderful you are, there is no guarantee that someone won’t spread false rumors about you. You could be the nicest person in the world, but that doesn’t mean a competitor won’t try to gain an edge by hiring someone to libel your company or product.

What To Do If You’re The Target Of Defamatory Remarks

There isn’t much you can do to avoid being defamed, but you can take steps to mitigate the damage if attacked.

  1. Don’t claw back ASAP. Though your temper may be rightly piqued by false public accusations, it isn’t wise to bite back. If you can stay calm in a response to an online detractor, by all means, reply calmly. But if there’s a chance your reply will read as snarky, temper-filled or otherwise off-putting, refrain from replying. Let your calmer head prevail before responding.
  2. Contact an attorney and explain the situation. Find out the best legal options for your unique situation. Depending on the jurisdiction, you’ve got between one and three years to file a claim. Let a qualified attorney hear the facts of the case; let him or her tell you if you have a viable defamation claim. You can also learn the basics of defamation law here.
  3. If you decide to move forward legally, it’s important to gather as much information as possible, as close to the event as possible. Why? As a plaintiff in a U.S. slander or libel claim, the burden of proof is on your shoulders. Don’t just bookmark the pages, as they may be taken down. Be sure to make hard copies of any web page that contains the contested material.

Kelly / Warner handles all types of defamation law cases. Click here to learn more about our defamation legal practice. To speak with an attorney about your situation, contact us.

Internet Governance & International Internet Law Case Study

online harassment Internet governance
Kelly / Warner Law Helped Crack An International Internet Harassment Case.

*Kelly / Warner was one of the U.S. firms that helped win the International Internet defamation case discussed in this post. A pioneer in Internet governance law, Kelly / Warner partners with overseas legal practices to resolve cross-border libel, harassment and unfair competition cases. If you’d like to speak with Kelly / Warner about a domestic or transnational Internet law issue, please contact us.*

A web developer may spend some time in jail over a $300 invoice.

“But how could that be!?,” you protest.

When someone opts to criminally harass a former client, instead of legally handling an invoice disagreement, they sometimes find themselves behind bars.

Web Developer Created Harassing Websites About Former Client

Web developers and clients often clash over expectations and invoice amounts. When serious conflicts arise, professionals typically seek the assistance of an attorney with Internet governance and arbitration experience.

But some web developers choose a more dastardly path: they create disparaging –often harassing – websites about former clients.

Paul Britton, of Origin Design, falls into the latter group. Because of a  £200 (~$300) invoice dispute, Britton created several websites with the express purpose of humiliating his former client, and falsely labeled his foe a pedophile.

U.K.-based Britton thought using false credentials and U.S. companies to register and pay for the domains would sufficiently mask his identity.

But Britton didn’t do his Internet law homework.

If he had, Britton would’ve known that it’s possible to force Internet service providers and websites to fork over identifying information in criminal cases. Just because you use a fake name to register and set up a website doesn’t mean the “real you” can’t be unmasked – especially in service of a lawsuit.

How Kelly / Warner Law Helped Win This International Online Defamation Lawsuit

What The UK Team Needed to Prove

Due to the severity and nature of the accusations, the plaintiff’s legal team accused Britton of online harassment — a criminal charge in the United Kingdom. As such, the lawyers had to present evidence that satisfied “beyond reasonable doubt” standards. A simple IP address would not suffice, because, technically, IP addresses only represent computers, not people.

The U.K. legal team faced another challenge: Britton had done all his digital dirty work via U.S. companies. As an overseas practice, the prosecuting firm needed to partner with state-side practices that could obtain court orders compelling the U.S. ISP’s to hand over information in service of the lawsuit.

What Kelly Warner Did To Help Win This International Internet Law Caper

Our firm, Kelly / Warner, was one of the practices that partnered with the prosecuting U.K. legal team. Since Britton used U.S.-based ISPs to carry out his online revenge scheme, the plaintiff’s lawyers had a digital discovery challenge on their hands. In order to crack the case, they needed court orders, from U.S. judges, compelling parties – like PayPal.com and GoDaddy – to hand over user information.

We helped get those court orders.

Once in hand, the plaintiff’s U.K. lawyers were able to craft an unimpeachable case that included telephone recordings and password evidence.

Defense Argument That Didn’t Work In This International Internet Law Case

In this case, Britton’s defense attorneys used a decidedly 21st century legal argument [Paraphrasing]:

Since Britton’s disparaging sites didn’t appear in the first few pages of SERPs (search engine result pages), no harm was done, because nobody pays attention to SERP results past page three.

Some might call this the “twinkie defense” of Internet defamation law, but the argument isn’t completely baseless. At least under U.S. law, which requires nearly all* defamation plaintiffs to prove material harm. If a defendant can successfully argue that few people saw the material in question, case law precedence demands that even though a false statement of fact was made, the lack of material damage fails to meet the required preponderance of evidence for a successful libel claim.

(*Note: This statement doesn’t account for defamation per se. Defamation per se is a classification of slander or libel in which the accusation is recognized as inherently damaging. In such cases, the plaintiff doesn’t need to prove material harm, as it is inferred. Calling someone a pedophile would undoubtedly be considered defamatory per se in most jurisdictions that recognize the standard.)

Kelly / Warner: International Internet Governance Law

Due to the mounds of evidence, Britton had no choice but to plead guilty to criminal online harassment charges. No trial needed.

Kelly / Warner has considerable experience with international online defamation litigation. Frequently, we partner with overseas firms to close cross-border cases. Our attorneys and support staff know how to maneuver for a successful court order in online defamation and harassment cases.

Contact Kelly / Warner to learn more about our digital discovery,Internet governance and Internet law litigation services.