MLB Looks To Sue Annoying Commenters

from the winning-fans dept

If you run a site that allows comments, and some of those commenters are incredibly annoying... is the responsibility on you, as the site owner, to deal with those annoying commenters, or can you actually go to court against people for being jerks on your site? Apparently, Major League Baseball is choosing the latter option. It's going to court to try to get the identity of some commenters on its website who have been posting comments that are:
"threatening, abusive, obscene, vulgar, demeaning, offensive, pornographic, profane, sexually explicit, indecent and inappropriate"
Of course, that probably describes a rather large percentage of comments on some websites these days. Apparently MLB tried to deal with it internally, but failed in blocking those users. So rather than amp up its technical skills, MLB is going to court to demand that ISPs identify who it is that's been posting these comments, so that it can "pursue appropriate action."

In a world where we're seeing people charged with being jerks online, it seems like we're entering a dangerous world, with massive chilling effects on free speech. Obviously, being a jerk, and posting inappropriate material is annoying -- and MLB has every right to set up technological or moderation measures to deal with it. But potentially suing those individuals seems to cross a dangerous line.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 7:15pm

    Sports fans

    "threatening, abusive, obscene, vulgar, demeaning, offensive, pornographic, profane, sexually explicit, indecent and inappropriate"

    Sounds like every baseball fan I've ever known.

     

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

  2.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jun 4th, 2010 @ 7:20pm

    Re: Sports fans

    Frak off.


    Also, Bud Selig can eat a bag of dicks.


    Just keepin' it real.

     

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

  3.  
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    DMNTD, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 7:34pm

    Its all about money..

    how else can all these fraudulent cases go forth...who cares??? Money whores that's who.

     

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  4.  
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    NullOp, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 7:42pm

    MLB

    Once again a sport seems to think an awful lot of itself. MLB would be much better off getting soccer banned from American shores rather than wasting time and money going after people dissing MLB. As a baseball fan it is my God-given-right to slam whomever I choose in MLB!

    So, MLB dudes! Put a sock on it!

     

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  5.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 4th, 2010 @ 9:33pm

    No offense ...

    ""threatening, abusive, obscene, vulgar, demeaning, offensive, pornographic, profane, sexually explicit, indecent and inappropriate"

    Of course, that probably describes a rather large percentage of comments on some websites these days."

    I have to disagree with you, you Dumb bass, clock sucking, pig porking, fraker ... ;)

     

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  6.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 4th, 2010 @ 9:34pm

    Re: No offense ...

    So are you going to sue or smile?

     

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  7.  
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    The Pirate., Jun 4th, 2010 @ 9:48pm

    Re: Re: No offense ...

    Me I smile, suing is for the weak who can't even click the "next page" or the bookmarks to see something else.

     

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  8.  
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    Pixelation, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 10:07pm

    The children

    "But potentially suing those individuals seems to cross a dangerous line. "

    But think of the children! What if they read those comments?

    At least for now they need to go to court to potentially find out who the commenters are.

    I don't understand why our government can't just legislate morality.

     

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  9.  
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    Atkray (profile), Jun 4th, 2010 @ 10:45pm

    So, because MLB doesn't want to either pay someone or even easier, recruit some free moderators, they sue. And once again some pinhead Judge will listen to the case instead telling the MLB attorneys to never show up in the courtroom again with such nonsense.

    I was unpaid staff on a large forum for resourceful gamers, they would come up with IP addresses from all over the globe. It isn't that hard to ban/block them and delete their posts. You make them invisible they give up pretty quick.

     

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  10.  
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    NewsWonk, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 10:55pm

    MLB Censorship

    These guys at MLB will often delete any comment they don't care for, threatening or not. Last year, MLB changed the media player it uses for game broadcasts via the net. Most listeners felt this change was a big step backwards. When negative comments showed up on MLB blogs and help sites, many mysteriously disappeared, sometimes within minutes of posting.

     

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  11.  
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    EasierPC, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 12:48am

    MLB Looks To Sue Annoying Commenters

    Mike Masnick missed a serious point when he said that this sort of case could have a chilling effect on Free Speech rights. Those 1st Amendment Rights apply to the government's ability to censor speech, not private businesses. Private businesses can control what is said on their property/website/using their equipment. MLB has an obligation to follow the rules and policies they set out in order to protect their product. I tried to participate in two AOL chats and gave up due to their lack of control over the rudeness and vulgarity. Rudeness and vulgarity have their place, but not in a supposed "family friendly environment." MLB would lose the faith of their fans if stupid people are allowed to take over forums.

     

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  12.  
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    David T, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 1:41am

    De facto outlawing of online games

    The plaintiff alleges that the Alliance rouge called his Torren warrior a 'fat cow,' and thus Blizzard Entertainment is liable for damages. The defendant's counter-claim that the plaintiff responded by stating all Alliance are 'scum' has no merit.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 3:24am

    Why don't they just change their comment policy to require that commenters identify themselves before posting? Why go to court to get identification when they can require it up front?

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 3:47am

    Re: MLB Looks To Sue Annoying Commenters

    I tried to participate in two AOL chats and gave up due to their lack of control over the rudeness and vulgarity. Rudeness and vulgarity have their place, but not in a supposed "family friendly environment."

    And how exactly do you manage to live in the world with the rest of us?

     

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  15.  
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    out_of_the_blue, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 4:40am

    MLB is a government granted MONOPOLY.

    You may think it promotes an enjoyable entertainment, but there's statute that authorizes it. A far-sighted cartel paid politicians to grant exemption from anti-trust laws. It may have seemed harmless and even good at the time, and no doubt "conservatives" and even "libertarians" are ready to throw all their principles aside to permit this "harmless" exception, but truth is MLB is just a money machine. The people making money are those who own not only teams, but the stadiums -- and they get taxpayers to fund those too. Nope, MLB is actually one of the most statist organizations around, and incidentally, a breeding ground for Arrogant Nouveau Riche who naturally think that getting ridiculous incomes for playing a *game* is what freedom is all about, when in fact, they profit from a monopoly granted and guaranteed by gov't action. -- That's the kind of freedom that works only for the privileged few.

    MLB should just be erased. The point of this article is trivial alongside other flaws with it, except to note that the organization is going crazy with power.

     

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  16.  
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    Victor Nightingale, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 5:14am

    I don't find anything annoying with any of the commenters here, even though Mike claims that some are "incredibly annoying". Perhaps this is because he finds them annoying. Indeed, I find a number of the comments that he may deem as "annoying" as cleverly engineered with the intent to just piss one of the Mikes off.

    In fact, when I find such an out-of-place comment, I chuckle because when I see this, I know what's going on. Maybe you need to lighten up, and have an Irish Whisky on the rocks.

     

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  17.  
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    jack, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 5:56am

    free speech?

    What I would like to see is a court case that defines the conditions of free speech anonimity. I fully side on laws that preserve free speech - a foundation for democracy BUT I don't think that there is anything guaranteed that you be allowed a free flow of anything you want to say anytime, anywhere under anonymuss conditions. If you want to say it - fine - just have the gumption to put your name to it.

     

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  18.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 5th, 2010 @ 7:05am

    Re: Re: Re: No offense ...

    "Me I smile"

    Same here grin and ignore it. I wish more people were less PC and more capable of not being offended by peoples idiotic words.

    Many of these law suits happen because companies and organizations keep lawyers on staff as opposed to on retainer. The need for lawyers to show their worth in a six sigma society corporation force them to do these thing. Combine that with the lack of negative financial consequences for lawyers filing frivolous lawsuits, and the glut of lawyers needing to make a living in our legal system and you have the current system.

     

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  19.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 5th, 2010 @ 7:27am

    Re: MLB Looks To Sue Annoying Commenters

    "I tried to participate in two AOL chats and gave up due to their lack of control over the rudeness and vulgarity."

    First you are an idiot if you are still with AOL.

    Second, Frak you. How do you control peoples vulgarity? You cant, so get over it and get on with you life. No filters can monitor and block posts on a web site or blog with out destroying free speech. You want PC family friendly buy an iPhone, go to disneyland, get your kids ear plugs, never leave the house, destroy the radio because there is hip hop with almost bleeped words, and throw out the TV.

    Third, " MLB would lose the faith of their fans if stupid people are allowed to take over forums." ... hmmm ... about stupid media fed idiots I dont have any comment today.

    Mike and friends, apologies I am making a point.

     

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  20.  
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    Phillip Vector (profile), Jun 5th, 2010 @ 7:32am

    Re: MLB Looks To Sue Annoying Commenters

    Once you involve the courts, it becomes a 1st Amendment rights issue.

    For example, Mike can choose to delete this comment if he wishes. No violation there.

    If Mike sues me because of me posting, then (assuming he wins), it would be the justice system (hence, the government) telling me I can't post... That's when the courts overstepped their bounds.

     

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  21.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 5th, 2010 @ 7:37am

    Okay this goes back to the EFFs Friend of the court ...

    "It is seeking a court order requiring Charter to disclose the identities of people associated with these addresses, so it can pursue appropriate action."

    They should only be told the court this request should be filed in.

     

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  22.  
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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Jun 5th, 2010 @ 7:37am

    Re: Re: MLB Looks To Sue Annoying Commenters

    while i agree with the point about 'how exctly do you manage to live in the world' i dont think that was his point.

    his point was more to the fact that first amendment rights to free speech are not absolute (a point that sadly has to be made over and over).
    the courts have been very clear in the past that the right to free speech does not equate to 'you have the right to say whatever you want whenever you want wherever you want'.
    there are no first amendment rights when you are in a privately owned setting and the owner has decided he wants you out of there.
    this story is the exact same thing with the added stupidity of MLB thinking they should take legal recourse rather than hiring smarter IT people.

    and my own personal point is:
    Dear MLB, how bout you take HALF of the money its going to cost to litigate this, hire IT people that know more than how to turn on a computer, giving the money you saved to charity (preferably EFF thanks) and take yourselves a nice tax writeoff while doing good helping the economy and not looking like a bunch of old farts that cant find their own asses with both hands and a map.

     

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  23.  
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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Jun 5th, 2010 @ 7:42am

    Re:

    there are only two options.

    1) your dumb

    2) you dont read that much of the comments


    kinda hoping for your sake its #2

     

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  24.  
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    Richard (profile), Jun 5th, 2010 @ 7:52am

    Why no simple solution

    Why not just require an email sign -up before you can comment. That is what most sites that want to create a "family friendly" environment do.

     

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  25.  
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    Oxana (profile), Jun 5th, 2010 @ 9:17am

    Re:

    I agree. If MLB is that concerned about vulgar language on its site it should invest in moderation from the outset. As with many sites, though, they don't want to pay....

     

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  26.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Jun 5th, 2010 @ 10:17am

    Re: The children

    "But think of the children! What if they read those comments? "

    But think of the children who are watching the ball game with their sports fan parents who, otherwise sane, burst into a (bit)torrent of profanity and broken coffee tables and shot tv sets whenever they think the ump made the wrong call on a home town favourite or the guy they have in their pool?

    To me, the on line comments are restrained compared to that! ;-)

    Just where do you think kids learn their profanity, anyway?

     

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  27.  
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    AC3, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 11:39am

    Re: Re: The children

    "Just where do you think kids learn their profanity, anyway?"

    School, of course!

     

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  28.  
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    EasierPC, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 12:49pm

    Re: Re: MLB Looks To Sue Annoying Commenters

    I get along fine in this world because I try to be socially correct. I say "fu

     

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

  29.  
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    EasierPC, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 1:09pm

    Re: Re: MLB Looks To Sue Annoying Commenters

    Just for the record Hephaestus, I tried AOL perhaps 13 years ago, didn't like it and left. Although I can dishonestly say that I feel better that you'd think I'm less than an idiot since I'm not with them.

    I have no problems with people's vulgarity. I like vulgarity, just like you. I use vulgarity regularly, just like you. I can be rude when I want to, just like you. I enjoy shocking people with rudeness and/or vulgarity, just like you. I hate PC, just like you.

    I am smart enough to know that there is a time and place for everything, unlike you. I try not to curse in front of children out of respect for them and their parents, unlike you. I understand that being polite at times doesn't make a person weak, unlike you.

    Being socially correct (used to be called polite) is okay, honestly it is. I guess the bottom line is that I realize that politeness isn't weakness.

    Honestly I now think my life would have more meaning if I can only get more of your approval.

     

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  30.  
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    Gene Cavanaugh, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 1:34pm

    MLlB suing commentors

    I am surprised this appears to have gotten this far.

    "threatening, abusive, obscene, vulgar, demeaning, offensive, pornographic, profane, sexually explicit, indecent and inappropriate"

    Some of the above does not state a cause of action, some of it may (or may not). The Judge should demand that the complaint be amended to state a cause of action, and since some of the above MIGHT be a misdemeanor, and some MIGHT be felonious, it needst t obe rather strongly narrowed.

     

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  31.  
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    Krusty, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 4:04pm

    This baseball they are speaking of is used for what?

     

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  32.  
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    Mike L, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 4:38pm

    Cyber trespass law...

    Actually a cyber trespass law might not be a bad idea. With tor's able to easily bounce and change ip addresses, free yahoo email accounts, and other tactics, its nearly impossible to actually BAN someone from your site without them able to get back on in seconds.

    If you go to a private business and act like a jerk, they'll show you the door, if you refuse to leave or sneak back in, the cops can be called and you'll be fined and arrested for trespassing....

    If you are banned from a website or online forum, and try and circumvent the ban, there should be some type of penalty for the worst offenders.

    Free speech has NEVER EVER been absolute, and neither has access to private places. It's one of the few laws that really is a common sense MUST in the real world, and has it's place in the cyberworld too.

     

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  33.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 5th, 2010 @ 6:59pm

    Re:

    I don't find anything annoying with any of the commenters here, even though Mike claims that some are "incredibly annoying". Perhaps this is because he finds them annoying.

    I did not claim that I found any of the commenters here annoying. Not sure why you would make that claim.

     

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  34.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 5th, 2010 @ 7:03pm

    Re: MLB Looks To Sue Annoying Commenters

    Mike Masnick missed a serious point when he said that this sort of case could have a chilling effect on Free Speech rights. Those 1st Amendment Rights apply to the government's ability to censor speech, not private businesses. Private businesses can control what is said on their property/website/using their equipment

    Indeed, but that does not give them the right to then sue them. It's where you sue someone for comments that are "annoying" that the free speech questions come up.

    MLB has an obligation to follow the rules and policies they set out in order to protect their product. I tried to participate in two AOL chats and gave up due to their lack of control over the rudeness and vulgarity. Rudeness and vulgarity have their place, but not in a supposed "family friendly environment." MLB would lose the faith of their fans if stupid people are allowed to take over forums.

    Indeed. That's why it's MLB's responsibility to handle its comments. Not to sue people though.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 10:06pm

    It is so easy to censor anything people don't like at the client end why they won't to do it at the server side?


    e.g.:

    javascript:document.body.innerHTML=document.body.innerHTML.replace(/Mike L/gi,'Mike LoL'); void(0)

    I could crawl on the nodes on the page and replace or remove any comment by Mike L and he would never know I was censoring him, I could setup my own cursing filter and that would be ok now trying to do that at a chocking point is ridiculous and probably violates everybody's freedoms.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 10:10pm

    For those who don't know if you put "javascript: [code here]" on the address bar and hit enter it will execute that code.

    try putting this on the address bar and hitting enter:


    javascript: alert("Hi there!")

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 10:12pm

    * It is so easy to censor anything people don't like at the client end why they won't to do it at the server side?

    Should read:

    It is so easy to censor anything, people don't like at the clients end, why they want to do it at the server side?

     

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  38.  
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    angelbar, Jun 6th, 2010 @ 12:06am

    Re: Re: Sports fans

    You are walking a fine line man!....Handover your IP!

     

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  39.  
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    WammerJammer (profile), Jun 6th, 2010 @ 8:37am

    Like really!

    You mean to make a comment about what an idiot the umpire Joyce was to steal a perfect game from Galarraga. Or to comment on the hatchet faced demon from hell and idiot I saw on TV named Bud Selig that refused to reverse the call. There apparently is no rule to allow him to do that. Well what do you need him for if he has no power to manipulate the rules? What a joke!!
    My 7 year said it just about right. The MLB are cheaters and thieves for stealing from Gallaraga and he doesn't want anything to do with them ever again! Out of the mouths of babes.

     

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  40.  
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    Hugh Mann (profile), Jun 6th, 2010 @ 11:01am

    Why is this any different . . .

    . . . than someone who runs a brick-and-mortar establishment calling the police to help him remove someone who's doing this stuff in his physical business? The cops are going to come to deal with the guy who's shouting obscene things at customers in Aisle 5. They will get his name and address. And the store owner may have a cause of action for whatever disruption caused by the jerk, regardless of the fact that the jerk was part of the general public who was invited in to shop.

    I don't see how the fact that MLB invites the public to participate in its chat rooms (or whatever) somehow means they have forfeited any ability to resort to legal action if someone is being disruptive.

    HM

     

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  41.  
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    Hugh Mann (profile), Jun 6th, 2010 @ 11:06am

    Re: Re: MLB Looks To Sue Annoying Commenters

    It depends. The courts can say, "MLB can control speech however it wants to in its chat rooms. That is a private setting, and they can do whatever they want, since the First Amendment binds governmetn actoin, not private action."

    And the issue seems to be over disclosing identifies of posters, not asking the government to control their speech. More of a privacy thing than a First Amendment thing.

    HM

     

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  42.  
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    Hugh Mann (profile), Jun 6th, 2010 @ 11:13am

    Re: Why is this any different . . .

    Quick clarification:

    Resorting to legal action may or may not ultimately be a good idea. There may be other, less confrontational and/or less expensive ways to deal with it. My point is that we get to resort to the courts to help resolve disputes, and the fact that MLB runs a public web site shouldn't somehow preclude them from availing themselves of that right.

    HM

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2010 @ 1:49pm

    "threatening, abusive, obscene, vulgar, demeaning, offensive, pornographic, profane, sexually explicit, indecent and inappropriate"
    Let me guess. Legalese for "Someone wrote 'eff-dash-dash-dash why-oh-you' on our message board! Waaaah! He said a naughty word! I'm telling MOMMY!!"

     

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  44.  
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    jack gurney, Jun 6th, 2010 @ 6:20pm

    MLB Looks To Sue Annoying Commenters

    This idea is comming from BUD SELIG, a man who doesn't have the 'BALLS ENOUGH TO CORRECT A BAD CALL FROM AN UMPIRE"

     

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  45.  
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    Dude101, Jun 6th, 2010 @ 6:37pm

    MLB

    After like a decade of not watching MLB I decided to give it a shot again. I have played farm league ball for years until giving it up for other adventures. It disgusts me how MLB tries to control its fans. You have to register for an account on the MLB website and most people that post there have an account. The moderators have no idea how to deal with people. There is also no way to report a post or a member to the admin. Their way of trying to deal with it internally was disabling posting abilities on 1000s of people. I guess banning subnets of major ISP of people they were fed up with. It does seem that they are mostly fed up with people of opposing teams crashing other teams sites and talking trash about that team and stirring up the fans. I've said harsh things about my home team on their forums when choices made by managers I did not agree with occured and I have seen those messages deleted. Hey some of this information from fans is useful and I am sure some of the managers and coaches read these forums for ideas. These MLB folks are idiots and ruining the game with these dumb fuck rules. Let the fans deal with the fans themselves. We all deal with these types of people in the real world. MLB you can't sue and put people in jail for speaking their minds. I'm sure when the lawsuit comes up it will be mostly 12 year olds hitting the stands.

     

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

  46.  
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    drieman (profile), Jun 6th, 2010 @ 8:45pm

    BS

    BS. It's so radical progress to believe money doesn't lead people closer to happiness but the truth is that the LACK OF money is the root of all evil. Money is a motivator and for the folks who don't believe it, please send all that demotivating money you are hording my way. Hey, that way you will all be much happier and so wise and I will be so unhappy with your discarded wealth.

     

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

  47.  
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    Money for nothing., Jun 7th, 2010 @ 2:17am

    I doubt that lack of money is a problem.

    The root of all evil is ignorance.

    One can survive planting things to eat, some people demonstrated that they can survive on from dumpsters and handouts, people can do a lot even live without it. What people can't do without it is work, someone have to produce and work in other things so you can have more, when people stop producing real things not IP BS right then you can see the country going down the drain. With or without money it doesn't matter, stop producing real things that people can use things get ugly.

     

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

  48.  
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    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 3:15am

    Even though I hate baseball, maybe I should get on the MLB site

    Perhaps I should take the trouble to register as a user, and then sharply criticize that world class moron Selig, or mention things about his family that may or may not be true, just to piss them off. It's always fun to poke annoying idiots with a stick, just to get a rise out of them, and if they wish to get physical in response, administer a healthy beat-down. Can't do that physically on a forum, but intellectually, it's not a problem. I haven't watched MLB since they went on strike and blew off the Series. Never will again. Anything that annoys and infuriates them is just fine with me, so I may just have to do my part.

     

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  49.  
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    an0nym00se, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 11:46am

    FUCKIN LOL

    hahaha!!! Good luck, I'm behind 7 proxies!

     

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


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