The Ongoing Battle Between Anonymity And Libel Online

from the which-is-more-important? dept

There's just something about being behind a keyboard and a screen that make people do nutty things, especially if they think that they're appearing to be anonymous. However, that can also run right into questions concerning libel. Over in the UK, where libel laws are much stricter than here in the US, it should come as little surprise that people who thought they were being anonymous are now being unmasked by those accusing them of libel. In one case, it was unveiled that the guy behind a website trashing a specific housing organization just so happened to run a competing housing organization. In another case, disgruntled fans of a UK football (soccer) team are having their identities handed over to the court for smearing the names of officials in charge of the club. At least in that case, the judge tried to limit whose names were being handed over, leaving out those whose statements "were merely 'abusive' or likely to be understood as jokes" alone to remain anonymous. Still, libel is increasingly a funny sort of crime in this world where everyone's a publisher and everyone has an opinion. Accusing someone of libel in court can often backfire, as it only calls that much more attention to the actions that led to the original claims. It seems that it's often better to simply respond to the false claims with proof that they're not true, and then leave people to make their own decisions.


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  1.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Oct 24th, 2007 @ 12:05pm

    How do you prove anything?

    If someone accused you of being a homosexual, how would you prove otherwise? If someone claimed they are your homosexual lover, how would you prove they aren't? If he says you have an uncircumcised organ, should you post a picture of your organ to prove otherwise?

    Also, what do you do if someone posts embarrassing information that happens to be true? What if the person says your mother had an extramarital affair, etc.? Will it be so "funny" then?

     

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  2.  
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    RandomThoughts, Oct 24th, 2007 @ 12:08pm

    Information that happens to be true isn't libel.

     

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  3.  
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    BadDog357, Oct 24th, 2007 @ 12:38pm

    Random Thoughts is correct. The truth is not libel. Just like your opinion of someone or something if stated as an opinion is not libel. I am not sure but I think the same is true of calling someone an asshole, etc. Because there is no legal definition of "asshole" and how can you prove you are not one. So if I said "John Edward is a faker and a lyre." that would be libel but if I said "I think John Edward is a douche bag and a fucking asshole." that should be perfectly legal. Right?

    BTW John Edward (host of Crossing Over) really is a fucking douche bag piece of shit. If he had any ethics or a conscience he would shoot himself in the head right after he finished the last apology letter to all the people he has mind fucked with his bullshit little act.

     

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  4.  
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    dorpus, Oct 24th, 2007 @ 12:56pm

    Re:

    Ok, but if the "truth" is difficult to prove, or doing so requires too much embarrassment/hassle for the accused person, what is it then?

     

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  5.  

    The New Lawsuit

    I follow this stuff regularly due to fact that my website allows people to post complaints of other businesses. One case I'm following is Video Professor's lawsuit to obtain the names and IP addresses from it's own customers that posted negative comments on Infomercialscams.com

    Even though Video Professor has over 600 complaints listed on the BBB, they claim they need these names and IP addresses so they can try to solve any disputes with these customers. Why didn't Video Professor try to solve them when they first complained?

    The other new flavor of the month to try to stop complaints is to sue the site that posts these complaints on the grounds of copyright infringement because suing for libel is not working anymore.

    Lawyers, go to your neutral corners then come out fighting!

     

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  6.  
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    ipanema, Oct 24th, 2007 @ 3:08pm

    some companies can't just swallow complaints of their products. if taken positively and proven to be sensible, why not try to look into the complaint instead of calling a lawyer straight away. if proven untrue and damages the company or anybody's name, then they can resort to legal means.

    i believe nobody's anonymous online. just my thoughts. :)

     

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  7.  
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    Bob Jones, Oct 24th, 2007 @ 3:29pm

    I can't wait until libel is used to defend libel laws ... I might say that the libel laws should be changed in the UK, but I would probably infer that they won't be - because they happen to make a lot of money for a certain group of people, who I might name as lawyers (who more specifically could be libel lawyers), then I might end up in court for trashing an honourable group.

    Of course, I don't think you can actually be sued for calling a group of people names our defaming their image - so lawyer ranting is OK!

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2007 @ 4:04pm

    "BTW John Edward (host of Crossing Over) really is a fucking douche bag piece of shit. If he had any ethics or a conscience he would shoot himself in the head right after he finished the last apology letter to all the people he has mind fucked with his bullshit little act."

    Excellent. I've been searching for a nice, concise description of him for some time. Thank you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Dick Weed, Oct 25th, 2007 @ 8:06pm

    Libel

    If I call Hillary Clinton a cunt is that libel or just being redundant?

     

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  10.  
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    Denise, Dec 1st, 2007 @ 7:21pm

    Re: Libel

    Redundant. Clearly.

     

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  11.  
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    Simon Longchamps, Dec 22nd, 2007 @ 4:00am

    Back stabber ? Libel ?

    Is calling someone a backstabber libe if you feel you were kinda backstabbed by this person in the past?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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