Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Blogworld Gets Sued

The more I think about Orthomom's getting sued for one of her anonymous commenters calling someone "ugly" and "anti-Semitic", the funnier I think it is. Orthomom put up a post listing all the bloggers who have written about it - the later they wrote, the funnier it seems to be, as people realized just how stupid this lawsuit is. The funniest comment (and I can't seem to find it now) noted that to win a defamation case you must prove that the comment was not true; as the commenter noted:
"I sure hope for Ms. Greenbaum's sake that she's not ugly!"
But more important is the idea that someone could even be sued for the actions and statements of their commenters. If that were possible, we can kiss goodbye to a lot of blogs. Seriously - imagine if DovBear were legally liable for the comments people make on his blog!? Or Canonist? They'd be bankrupt in a week. The whole blogworld could get sued!

Think about it in an even broader sense: Many political, news, or sports sites allow people to create their own blogs or comment on articles online. Can Barry Bonds sue Major League Baseball for all the MLBlogs that discuss his [as yet unproven] steroid use? Can he sue CBSSportsline, which has message boards? Can people sue Kos for some of the diarists' posts?

The answer is simple: The reason we don't see lawsuits against blogs like this?
  1. They have no chance of winning.
  2. They attract far more attention to the original statements than the blogger ever could have if they'd tried.
For someone to try a lawsuit like this, they have to be incredibly dum stup gutsy though ill-advised.

I still think this would make more sense if it were a Purim prank. Happy Rosh Chodesh Adar, everybody!