Lawyer Gets Court To Assign Copyright On Negative Review To Him, Then Sues For Copyright Infringement

from the getting-around-230 dept

We've written numerous times about the site Ripoff Report from the company Xcentric Ventures. Ripoff Report has been involved in numerous lawsuits from people trying to sue the site for posts they claim are defamatory. Ripoff Report has strict "no removals" policy, though it does encourage people who are ridiculed via the site to respond -- and offers a fee-based program to help individuals and companies improve their reputation. Thanks to Section 230 of the CDA -- which we've written about quite a bit -- Ripoff Report has mostly prevailed when sued. That's because it's not Ripoff Report writing the content. They're just the service provider. People who are upset can still go after the original author of any content if there's actual defamation there, but suing Ripoff Report tends not to get very far. Not surprisingly, this pisses off some people, leading them to try out a variety of tactics to get around Section 230, most of which fail.

The latest such attempt comes from attorney Richard Goren, who first sued the person who wrote this post on Ripoff Report in Massachusetts state court. From the look of the post, Goren probably has a legitimate defamation claim against the author of the post. It makes a number of completely unsupported statements of fact that accuse Goren of a variety of illegal activities including things like fraudulently seizing assets from the elderly and child abuse. You can absolutely see how this could lead to a legitimate defamation claim. Of course, the post is also so over the top that it seems doubtful that anyone looking at it would take it at face value. Furthermore, the comments on the post make it pretty clear that people don't believe it at all.

Either way, Goren won his initial suit in the state court via what appears to be a default judgment, which includes an injunction against the person who wrote the original post -- variably named as "John Doe dba Arabiannights-Boston Massachusetts," "Steven DuPont," "Steven Christian DuPont" and "Christian DuPont" -- from continuing to post it. All of that seems more or less reasonable. But here's where it gets highly questionable. As a part of the default judgment, Goren also convinced the state court to assign the copyright on the post to himself:
that all rights in and ownership of the copyright by the author.... of the January 31, 2012 Report # 831689 posted on the Ripoff Report website captioned "Complaint Review: Richard A. Goren" is hereby transferred to the plaintiff Richard A. Goren, meaning and intending to convey, transfer and assign by this Order and Judgment the full and exclusive ownership of copyright in and to that work so as to qualify as a transfer of ownership under 17 U.S.C. §201(d) and/or under 17 U.S.C. §204.
Once that was in place, Goren immediately turned around and told Ripoff Report that the post was infringing his copyrights and demanded that it be taken down. Ripoff Report refused, citing their usual policy, and Goren has now sued the company claiming copyright infringement. It is important to note, of course, that Section 230 has a specific carve out that it does not apply to intellectual property claims. The DMCA's Section 512 safe harbors are supposed to act as an equivalent, but they are much weaker than Section 230, and (as we all know) have the notice and takedown requirements to avoid liability.

While I can sympathize with Goren considering the sheer craziness of that original and clearly malicious post on Ripoff Report, this approach seems very dangerous. First off, it seems like a form of copyright abuse -- using it not for anything that has to do with the purpose of copyright, but merely as a very blatant attempt to get around the clearly stated limitations of Section 230. It's troubling enough that the state court agreed to hand over the copyright in the first place, but then using that as a way to attack the service provider for content that someone else had written seems doubly troubling. Unfortunately, with cases like these, you always worry if a court will come to a bad result simply because they're so put off by the extreme nature of the comments against Goren. The very large problem with that is that it leads to encouragement of continued abuse of copyright to censor all sorts of legitimate content, and to pin liability on third party service providers, who should not be liable for the actions of their users.




Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 9:35am

    Who's the braindead the judge that agreed to this and how can a law-abiding citizen get that judge removed from his position for being an incompetent clown?

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 9:39am

    Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    But it absolutely is legal. Ripoff Report is trying to dodge liability as "service provider", just as Kickstarter dodges financial liability by calling itself "platform" not business, and just as Mike, and many others, dodge liability with Section 230 of DMCA with the same "platform" notion. SO by dodging liability in the first place, exercising NO editorial control, Ripoff Report proved that it DOES NOT OWN THE CONTENT, never did, therefore once assigned to plaintiff, there's NO safe harbor left because infringing. Cut and dried. They'd better accede.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 9:43am

    Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    There's no question that RR doesn't own the content. The question is why does Goren get to pretend he owns the content and abuse copyright law to censor speech (even defamatory speech).

     

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  4.  
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    RD, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 9:45am

    Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    Notice how blue's "morality" goes stright out the window in favor of a blatant appeal-to-authority. So the law is the law, is that it blue? Ok then, you reap what you sow now. Your comments are hereby on notice for any hypocrisy on this matter. You may think you are unknown on the internet and untouchable, but you will soon find out how incorrect you are.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 9:47am

    Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    Correct myself first: "innovative" means more that it's a NEW show of resolve, as the notion isn't really new, had occurred to me some time back.

    What part of "meaning and intending to convey, transfer and assign by this Order and Judgment the full and exclusive ownership of copyright in and to that work so as to qualify as a transfer of ownership under 17 U.S.C. §201(d) and/or under 17 U.S.C. §204" don't you understand? I can't undertake to teach you the basics of copyright, sonny. It's NOT abusing copyright -- at least not in eyes of the law, maybe is to Techdirt fanboy-pirates.

    Sounds like you just can't stand the tactic or me admiring it, or both.

     

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  6.  
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    crade (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 9:48am

    Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    It's ridiculous. The copyright holder gave permission to the site to use it when it was posted.

    This is the equivilent of me (or anyone) buying the copyright on one of Elvis' songs and then suing someone who released it way back when for infringment because I never gave them permission.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 9:50am

    Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    @ RD, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 9:45am

    Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!
    Notice how blue's "morality" goes stright out the window in favor of a blatant appeal-to-authority. So the law is the law, is that it blue? Ok then, you reap what you sow now. Your comments are hereby on notice for any hypocrisy on this matter. You may think you are unknown on the internet and untouchable, but you will soon find out how incorrect you are.



    A THREAT FROM YOUR FANBOY, MIKE. I DEMAND SOME CENSURE FROM YOU.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 9:51am

    Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    @ "It's ridiculous. The copyright holder gave permission to the site to use it when it was posted."

    That's TRUE, but NO LONGER THE CASE. See the block quote above.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 9:56am

    Cute, except basically every website on the planet has a terms of service that has a section similar to this in Ripoff Report's:

    6. Proprietary Rights/Grant of Exclusive Rights

    By posting information or content to any public area of www.RipoffReport.com, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to Xcentric an irrevocable, perpetual, fully-paid, worldwide exclusive license to use, copy, perform, display and distribute such information and content and to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such information and content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing.

    Transfer of copyright ownership should not terminate this license so unless Goren can poke a hole in it he's probably going to lose again.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 9:56am

    Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    You might be correct (IANAL), but you are forgetting one tiny detail.

    The copyright should have never been assigned to Goren - that is the core issue here, I think. Goren cannot possibly own someone's "opinion" even if it is defamatory.

    What we have here is a lawyer "innovating" new ways to abuse copyright, stretching it beyond its intended purpose. Judging by your previous statements, I am certain that you do not approve of that.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 9:57am

    Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    Under your theory, Mike would be perfectly correct in removing your posts by exercising editorial control. You have no grounds for claiming censorship when your comments are hidden, it is just editorial control by the community.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 9:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    "A THREAT FROM YOUR FANBOY, MIKE. I DEMAND SOME CENSURE FROM YOU."

    There's this little button that says "Report". I am sure you are quite familiar with the effects of such button.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:00am

    Re: @ "Proprietary Rights/Grant of Exclusive Rights"

    Well, it's cute but it isn't a signed agreement and in any case doesn't supersede copyright. Just typical lawyers trying to steal everything on the one hand, but NOT own the liability on the other.

     

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  14.  
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    Vadim Lebedev, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:04am

    Copyright Transfer

    IANAL of course but i'm positive that state courts are not competent to handle Copyright-releated issues.
    Copyright is federal law and handled by federal circuit courts.
    The judge have abused authority in this case.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    If you agree that the post can now be removed, then any contract or agreement can be voided at any time by selling it to someone else for 1 cent.

     

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  16.  
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    crade (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    He only needed permission from the copyright holder when the copy was made and he published the document.

    It will always be the case that it was published with permission. It's in the past. There are no take backs in copyright law, that isn't how it works. You can't sue someone for listening to an old Elvis record just because you bought the copyright to that song. You don't need to get permission from all future copyright holders in order to make and publish a copy of something, that just is not how copyright works.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:10am

    Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    @ "The copyright should have never been assigned to Goren - that is the core issue here, I think. Goren cannot possibly own someone's "opinion" even if it is defamatory."

    First, the assignment likely won't be contested either! That's a windmill for defendant Ripoff Report to tilt at. 2nd, Goren now owns the exact text that's posted online, NOT the opinion. Sheesh, that's a hair-splitting quibble after you already conceded, so you MUST be a lawyer.

    What you're certain of appears to be your mistake. My low opinion of lawyers doesn't too strongly affect my view of facts. Even Mike admits Goren "probably has a legitimate defamation claim against the author of the post." So set that aside, AND the transfer as likely etched in stone. Without written agreement and exchange of consideration, that leaves pure copyright, which Ripoff Report does NOT own but Goren now does. -- Actually, the real question is whether Ripoff Reports wants to spend contesting such a small matter on shaky ground, when my bet is they'd lose.

     

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  18.  
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    GMacGuffin (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:12am

    Re:

    Beat me to it. Yes, the click-wrap agreement (check the box) when you sign up for RipoffReport is almost certainly binding, and the copyright license as written is irrevocable. Regardless whether the Court had authority to transfer the copyright in the first place (questionable), the assignment of the copyright would not in itself revoke any licenses. (Could you imagine the mayhem if it could? You don't like the licenses you granted, so you assign it to your cousin ...)

    I didn't see mention of the license in the Complaint -- a deliberate omission, or was Mr. End-Run only thinking one step at a time?

    (Pay no attention to ootb, it knows naught of which it speaks.)

     

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  19.  
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    Atkray (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:14am

    Re:

    Even though clowns are creepy, comparing them to judges is really not fair.

     

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  20.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    Blue, wtf is wrong with you that you can't understand the concept of not being able to charge people with actions that were legal in the past? Okay, fine, the courts gave the copyright of the comment to Goren (which I find absolutely crazy, it's the first time I've heard of a defamatory case where copyrights were transferred by the judge). At the time the comment was posted, it was legal. It was written by it's original author and posted to Ripoff Reports with his permission.
    Goren cannot say that he's suffering infringement of his copyright, because at the time the content was posted, he DID NOT OWN THE COPYRIGHT TO THAT CONTENT. This would be like me buying the copyright to a song, then saying that a café that played it five years ago infringed on my new copyrights. That's crazy.

     

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  21.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:20am

    Re: Re: @ "Proprietary Rights/Grant of Exclusive Rights"

    *VERY WIDE GRIN*

    Really? Not a signed agreement and doesn't supersede published law? Then what about EULA/TOS/etc? I remember comments from you in the past calling those who violate EULA's etc all sorts of names, hand-waving away the exact same point you just said, that they're not signed agreements.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:20am

    I'm guessing the judge is relying on 17 U.S.C. §201(d)'s reference to "the operation of law" as his authority to transfer copyright. I'm guessing he's relying on the shrink-wrap agreement on the site to count as a transfer under 17 U.S.C. §201(e) which would otherwise prohibit his action.

    But since copyright is a federal matter, should a state court judge be meddling in copyright, or should he be referring that part of the case to federal court?

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:20am

    Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    @ "Under your theory, Mike would be perfectly correct in removing your posts by exercising editorial control. You have no grounds for claiming censorship when your comments are hidden, it is just editorial control by the community."


    First, it's clear that you HOPE I'll be censored.

    But Mike CAN'T under common law offer a machine providing free public bulletin board service for anyone to use -- which is subject NOT to any TOS here but only to common law terms on content -- and then ARBITRARILY remove posts that don't offend common law (as mine never do): that WOULD make him liable. Laws haven't changed just because of the Internet; disclaimers notwithstanding.

    But under common law, I've demanded above that he censure a THREAT directed at me which has NO place in discussion, creates a hostile environment -- and yet that does not contradict. Mike has SOME duty under common law to remove egregious posts, and DOES exercise some editorial control. Also, Mike is running a business here, so public accomodation applies.

     

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  24.  
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    pixelpusher220 (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:22am

    Re:

    ignoring all the crazy...the content was posted *legally*; i.e. by the copyright owner at the time.

    If said copyright ownership gets transferred you don't get to redefine the, already posted content, as being 'illegally' posted.

     

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  25.  
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    pixelpusher220 (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    please, ootb is just a Mike sockpuppet to keep us all entertained ;-)

     

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  26.  
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    DannyB (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    You can transfer (through sale, gift or otherwise) a copyright to another party. But part of what they get is the obligations of existing licenses on that copyright.

    If I licensed my copyright for five years to Jane, and then sell the copyright to you, the five year license to Jane comes with it.

    Giving permission to Fred to quote it on a website is also a license. In fact the word license means permission. (drivers license, fishing license, license to sin, license to kill)

    If I did not make you fully aware of the five year license to Jane when I sold you the copyright, then you could sue me because I misrepresented what you were buying.

    If I made you fully aware of all licenses on the copyright before selling it to you, and if you don't honor Jane's five year license, then Jane can sue you as the new copyright owner who is in breach.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    @ "Rikuo", "he DID NOT OWN THE COPYRIGHT TO THAT CONTENT."

    A court has ruled, and that makes ALL the difference. I'll just repeat: "Even Mike admits Goren "probably has a legitimate defamation claim against the author of the post." So set that aside, AND the transfer as likely etched in stone. Without written agreement and exchange of consideration, that leaves pure copyright, which Ripoff Report does NOT own but Goren now does."

    Why do you want a post that even Mike admits is probably defamatory to remain up on a site you've probably never heard of before? Why do you INSIST that falsehoods should be left in place? 'Cause that's what you're apparently FOR, while I'm just stating that applying copyright in these circumstances is perfectly reasonable. Besides that, no web-site has a right to leave up FALSE information once alerted. Knowingly publishing falsehoods is a far more egregious and pernicious violation of law than what Goren is doing.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:30am

    Re: Copyright Transfer

    It's not in their jurisdiction. Maybe an appeal to a federal court would be in order ... assuming that there is anyone willing to appeal. Otherwise this is just a bad decision leaving bad precedent.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:36am

    Re:

    The court should not have transferred a copyright unless it was part of a collection of the judgement (which cannot happen at the same hearing where the judgement is entered - you have to give them a chance to pay before you start seizing assets.) And since the copyright on a defamatory post is worth approximately zero, it should not have been transferred.

    I'm not sure about the value of that TOS (and it's WAY overboard to demand an "exclusive" license) - but there IS an implied license granted whenever you post something to a website. I can't sue TechDirt for this post, and I can't merely assign the copyright to someone else and have THEM sue instead.

    The court would essentially be taking property from RipoffReport if they revoked the license. I would think that RipoffReport is entitled to a hearing before that happens.

    And the really weird part is how the original injunction is worded. If I read that right, the defendant is ordered to take all steps (and I mean ALL steps - have you ever heard of someone ordered to institute legal proceedings? How does THAT work?) to get them to take down the post. But it doesn't order RipoffReport to take down the post. Why not?

     

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  30.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    I'm not arguing that the defamatory statements should be kept up. I'm arguing against the copyright infringement claim, which is utterly bogus. If Goren wants to argue a defamatory case against RipOff Report, so as to takedown the comment that way, he's welcome to do it, but he can't argue that RR violated his copyright in the past, because he did not own the copyrights on the day the comment was published.

     

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  31.  
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    madasahatter (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:42am

    Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    The Section 230 provisions are there to immunize any displaying third party content from damages relating to the content. I can post anything on this site as a commenter and the post may be libelous/slanderous. The site owner is immunized against my actions; however, I am not.

    In the case of blog comment, the issue is whether the site has any editorially control over the comments beyond moderation.

     

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  32.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    I also have a question for you blue.

    Techdirt has reported many times on speech being silenced wrongly due to someone falsely claiming copyright infringement. I'm not going to bother listing any examples, you've seen them.
    Even if they were in fact anomalies, what's so wrong with changing copyright law so as to stop this from happening? What's so wrong with giving web sites complete immunity from being sued, and not just when they takedown content upon notice? Go on, give us a decent answer.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:46am

    How long until we find out Goren actually posted the original defamatory comments, in an effort to do exactly this, a la Prenda?

     

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  34.  
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    madasahatter (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:50am

    The orginal post

    Reading the original post, if the poster had any evidence why did he not go to the authorities. The post alledges criminal behavior not incompetence. I can see why Mr. Goren sued; the poster made comments about alledged criminal actions without apparently having proof. I wonder if the poster (or family member) lost money due to bad investment and are now making false accusations in the hope of recovery their losses.

    Also, I can see why Mr. Goren would like the post deleted given there is no evidence of its accuracy or factualness.

     

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  35.  
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    Adam, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:51am

    I'm wondering what would be the best way to get a review that is untrue and defamatory removed? I don't think its fair that anyone should have to pay Ripoff Reports extortion fee.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    Public accomodation applies to physical businesses to allow access. It doesn't mean he MUST allow you to say things on this site.

    It's not subject to a TOS, but that doesn't matter as it's his site and he can do with it as he pleases. How open he wants the comments is up to him, the end. He doesn't remove any posts except spam or particularly egrerious posts, despite the repeated non-contributions of several trolls such as yourself.

    Hostile environment is another workplace thing, but there is no potential of physical harm here. There is not two people fighting each other, or in each others face, or creating a poisenous envirnoment (as you are not employees at TD), it is a discussion in which physical presence is removed, thus no hostile environment.

    Mike has no duty to remove anything on if he does not wish it. Threats and revolutionary posts have been allowed to stay now, and they will in the future. Hit the report button and move on.

    Also you cannot buy a copywrite and do anything regarding retroactive permissions or licenses, nor collect previously uncollected royalties by the other group or anything else regarding to the past.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:55am

    Re:

    "I'm guessing he's relying on the shrink-wrap agreement on the site to count as a transfer under 17 U.S.C. §201(e) which would otherwise prohibit his action."

    Maybe that will teach these sites NOT to demand ownership of user content. If they had just taken out the word "exclusive" then they wouldn't be in this situation.

    I'm probably too optimistic, though.

    "But since copyright is a federal matter, should a state court judge be meddling in copyright, or should he be referring that part of the case to federal court?"

    The new lawsuit is a federal one. The original lawsuit was about defamation - the copyright transfer was just incidental. No way they're going to remove it to federal court once they're already to the point of having a judgement.

     

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  38.  
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    RD, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    Oh its not from me. *I* am not the one taking action against you. I have nothing to do with whatever it is.

     

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  39.  
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    PRMan, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 11:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    So, Michael Jackson's heirs can come and collect your legally-purchased Beatles albums then? Because, although you had a deal with the Beatles in the 60s, the new owners don't want you to have it anymore so you have to turn it in.

     

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  40.  
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    PRMan, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 11:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    In this case, Blue is right and Mike is wrong. Right or wrong, a court HAS assigned the copyright. So Goren owns it.

    He still should not be allowed to remove the content, since it was published with the permission of the copyright holder at the time.

     

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  41.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 11:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    But Mike CAN'T under common law offer a machine providing free public bulletin board service for anyone to use -- which is subject NOT to any TOS here but only to common law terms on content -- and then ARBITRARILY remove posts that don't offend common law (as mine never do): that WOULD make him liable.

    Muwahahahahahaha bloody hell.. That's the most idiotic legally inaccurate statement that I have ever had the displeasure to read- and believe me I have read and seen plenty.

    You are to be either commended on your comedic talent or ridiculed.. I'll let the audience go with what the see is best

     

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    GMacGuffin (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 11:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    Besides that, no web-site has a right to leave up FALSE information once alerted.

    Er, of course they do. And if they didn't write it, they are not liable and a court generally cannot force them to remove it. That's Sec. 230 at play ... the one in this story.

    Just look at Ripoff Report -- pretty much anywhere, and you'll see tons of obviously false information.

     

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  43.  
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    crade (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 11:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    Actually, the way copyright law has been heading, it wouldn't surprise me if they made it like that. It pretty much works that way now.. But only for things that have DRM.

     

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    Dogbreath, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 11:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    Since the lawyer now owns the content (based on out-of-the-blue's "retroactive assignment of copyright" theory, the lawyer must be responsible for posting it too) the only one he can truly sue for copyright infringement is the lawyer himself.

    I say he should sue himself for defamation and copyright infringement, and settle for nothing less than all the money he has including lawyers fees too. Or, as it is known, the old "fool for a client" routine.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 11:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    @ "DannyB": "If I licensed my copyright...

    If I did not make you fully aware...

    If I made you fully aware..."

    IF is a mighty big word. Those are not the case here.

    To answer several, you're relying on TOS, which is NOT law, and is not over copyright, let alone with the defamation aspects. Ripoff Report is continuing to publish information they know to be false and defamatory, to have been found so by a court, and after requests to removie it from victim and now copyright holder. Not a toe to stand on here.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 11:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    @ PRMan, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 11:01am
    So, Michael Jackson's heirs can come and collect your legally-purchased Beatles albums then? Because, although you had a deal with the Beatles in the 60s, the new owners don't want you to have it anymore so you have to turn it in.


    Man, that's stupid, off-topic, and STUPID, did I say, to equate ongoing publishing of defamation in with the victim and now copyright holder demanding it simply be taken off-line. Kudos to you for stupidest take, though.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 11:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    @ PRMan, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 11:01am
    So, Michael Jackson's heirs can come and collect your legally-purchased Beatles albums then? Because, although you had a deal with the Beatles in the 60s, the new owners don't want you to have it anymore so you have to turn it in.


    Man, that's stupid, off-topic, and STUPID, did I say, to equate ongoing publishing of defamation in with the victim and now copyright holder demanding it simply be taken off-line. Kudos to you for stupidest take.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 11:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    @ PRMan, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 11:01am
    So, Michael Jackson's heirs can come and collect your legally-purchased Beatles albums then? Because, although you had a deal with the Beatles in the 60s, the new owners don't want you to have it anymore so you have to turn it in.


    Man, that's stupid, off-topic, and STUPID, did I say, to equate with ongoing publishing of defamation when the victim and now copyright holder demands it simply be taken off-line. Kudos to you for stupidest take.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 12:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    To answer several, you're relying on TOS, which is NOT law


    No, it's a contractual agreement. And the terms of that agreement include that it continues even if the copyright is sold. The buyer of the copyright is just as bound to that agreement as the original holder was. That's the meaning of "perpetual".

    You are factually incorrect to think otherwise. If what you're asserting is true -- that all it takes to nullify a contract is to engage in a sale to an unrelated party -- then all contracts are effectively worthless.

     

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    btr1701 (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 12:24pm

    Copyright

    I'm usually against the maximalist side of things around here, but in this case, this seems like Goren has a perfectly legitimate cause of action. The copyright belongs to him now, and he can enforce it for whatever reason he likes.

    Mike says it's troubling that someone would abuse copyright in this way to get around Section 230, but I would argue that it would be even more troubling for every copyright owner to have to pass some kind of right-think litmus test enforced by the judiciary to ensure their intentions are pure before they're allowed to proceed with an enforcement action for copyrights they own.

    Bottom line, if he owns the copyright, he has every right to enforce it, for really any reason he likes.

     

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  51.  
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    DannyB (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 12:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    Copywrite means to write copy. As in writing content to be posted online.

    Copyright is the word most suitable to your porpoises.

     

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  52.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 12:25pm

    Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    > The question is why does Goren get to pretend
    > he owns the content

    He's not pretending he owns it. He *does* own it. The copyright was legally transferred to him.

     

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    crade (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 12:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    It's dead on and you know it.

    The single difference is the medium.. Once is published onto an internet site one on a record accessed with a record.

    Ongoing publishing is complete bullshit. He isn't republishing anything, the internet site is just still available and accessible (just like the record is).

     

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  54.  
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    AC Unknown (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    I have to say this, Blue: YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH ON A PRIVATELY-OPERATED WEBSITE.

    It's that simple.

     

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  55.  
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    crade (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 12:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    accessed with a record player. Ongoing publishing my ass. The whole theory that coputers are constantly making internal copies of things and need infinite licenses for everything is bullshit semantics that courts have already debunked.

     

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    btr1701 (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 12:35pm

    Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    > This is the equivilent of me (or anyone)
    > buying the copyright on one of Elvis' songs and
    > then suing someone who released it way back
    > when for infringment because I never gave them
    > permission.

    No, that's a false analogy. A more accurate analogy would be to say that this is like you buying the copyright on one of Elvis' songs and then suing someone who refuses to stop playing it on the radio right now.

    Goren isn't suing Rioff Report for originally posting the comment. He's suing them for *continuing* to post the comment now that he owns it.

     

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  57.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    > The copyright should have never been assigned
    > to Goren - that is the core issue here, I think.
    > Goren cannot possibly own someone's "opinion"
    > even if it is defamatory.

    Sure he can. I can write an opinion piece for the New York Times right now, and assign the copyright to the Times. At that point the article belongs to them, even though it's my opinion.

    Goren now owns the copyright in that article. The content of the article-- fact, opinion, whatever-- matters not.

     

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  58.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Copyright

    Have to disagree with you there, mate.
    I agree with Mike on this one. This is an extremely bad precendent.
    1) It's the first time I've heard of copyrights being transferred in a defamation case, so that opens a whole new can of worms. (If others have heard of similar prior cases, let me know). I can see Goren being entitled to monetary damages, perhaps through discovery of the author of the review (and that is in and of itself a scary thought), but what purpose does transferring the copyright serve?
    2) Goren is suing for retroactive copyright infringement, even though there was no infringement and never will be. The author of the review granted RR a licence to the review when he published it on their site, just like I am with this comment. When the courts transferred the copyright, that included the licence to RR. The original copyright agreement was made between RR and the review's author, Goren had no part in it. Goren is entitled, by copyright law, to control (apart from fair use uses of course) any copies of the review starting from the day he received the copyrights. He is not entitled to control fully licensed copies of the review that were perfectly legal BEFORE he received the copyrights.

     

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    crade (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 12:50pm

    Re: Copyright

    He has the right to enforce it, but owning the copyright doesn't give you the right to take back licensed copies and licenses from people who already have them.

    It lets him (and other copyright holders) prevent people creating new copies to some extent, (except if it's fair use anyway, which it pretty much always will be since there is no creative content and the only reason to republish it would be for factual / reporting information purposes)
    But it gives you no control at all over previously created and published copies of it.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Re: Copyright

    Exactly my point crade. Imagine if this court ruling stands and is used as a precedent. Imagine if I buy a music CD, I get a licence to play the music...but then the copyright to that music gets sold to a new guy who declares that noone is allowed to play the music. That effectively makes the censorship aspect of copyright law even stronger, and also weakens contract law as well (what's the point of giving a licence to play music to me, if through no fault of my own, a third party can later on declare that licence null and void?)

     

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  61.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Re: Copyright

    > He has the right to enforce it, but owning
    > the copyright doesn't give you the right to
    > take back licensed copies and licenses from
    > people who already have them.

    That's not what he's doing. He's suing to stop the continuing publication of a work he now owns.

    It would be no different than if I bought the copyright to a song that's currently playing on the radio and called up the radio station and said, "Hey, I own the copyright on that song now and I want you to stop playing it" and they refused. I'd be within my rights to sue them to get them to stop playing (publishing) the song. The fact that I didn't write the song, or that the song has been playing on the radio for the previous ten years is irrelevant. I own the song now and I don't want it played anymore. That's my right as the copyright owner.

    Same thing here. Goren isn't suing because Ripoff Report published the article originally and he isn't trying to "take back copies" of the article. He's merely saying that from this point forward, as the new owner of the work in question, I don't want it published anymore. And he does have that right as the owner of the copyright.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 1:02pm

    I read the posting on Ripoff Report.

    It's so over-the-top and unsupported that it has minimal credibility. The only thing missing is a claim of molesting park squirrels while burning a flag.

    It's not worth a lawsuit. I guess if you are a lawyer, and have nothing else to do, it might be. Taking the time to file multiple suits makes the post far more credible than it would be stand-alone.

    Especially combined with the legal theory that demonstrates a misunderstand of copyright license or a willingness to abuse the legal system for his own end.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 1:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    BTR, your radio analogy fails, because there's a part to copyright law you're ignoring: not just the copyRIGHTS, but the copy-RESPONSIBILITIES, i.e., licences. Goren doesn't just get the rights to control new copies of the review, but also the responsibility to honour any licences that were handed out prior to his obtaining the copyrights. In your radio station analogy, provided they bought the CD or whatever and did everything legally beforehand, the radio station can't get in trouble because they would have had a pre-existing licence to play Elvis' songs.
    Imagine if the radio station had a typed out and signed contract with Radio Station and Elvis as the parties, with Elvis signing that he gives the station the right to play his songs. Then a while later, Elvis sells his copyrights to a new party. That in no way justifies dissolving the contract between the station and Elvis. That contract is still in force, since the new party obtained not only the rights but the responsibilities that come with copyright.

     

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  64.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Copyright

    "He's suing to stop the continuing publication of a work he now owns."

    Define "continuing publication" for us please.

     

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    cpt kangarooski, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 1:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    But Mike CAN'T under common law offer a machine providing free public bulletin board service for anyone to use -- which is subject NOT to any TOS here but only to common law terms on content -- and then ARBITRARILY remove posts that don't offend common law (as mine never do): that WOULD make him liable.

    Got a case that you can cite to that effect?

    Not that it would matter. Statutory law overrides common law. And there is a statute which applies to your hypo. In fact, people have already been mentioning it: 47 USC 230. Here's the relevant bit:

    (c) Protection for “Good Samaritan” blocking and screening of offensive material
    (1) Treatment of publisher or speaker
    No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.
    (2) Civil liability
    No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of—
    (A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; or
    (B) any action taken to enable or make available to information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to material described in paragraph (1).

    Subsection (c)(1) is what protects website owners from being sued with regard to defamatory material that other people post on the sites. Subsection (c)(2), OTOH, permits the website owner, as a provider of an interactive computer service, to remove posts in good faith if the owner considers them to be objectionable and not to be held liable. In fact the mechanism that hides your posts due to their typical lunacy as reported by users is just such a mechanism as this subsection protects. (In this case restricting access, rather than availability)

    Laws haven't changed just because of the Internet; disclaimers notwithstanding.

    No, this law changed just because of the Internet. In Stratton Oakmont v. Prodigy, a service provider was successfully sued because it had hosted information posted by a third party which was defamatory. Congress, in order to protect service providers, and shelter the Internet from the dangers of such liability, enacted this law specifically to override the courts. In fact, I believe that defamation is a common law tort in New York, meaning that Congress was specifically overriding the common law, as it is their privilege to do.

    I suppose you could be more wrong, but it's a bit of a puzzler as to how, exactly.

     

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  66.  
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    cpt kangarooski, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 1:27pm

    Re: Re: @ "Proprietary Rights/Grant of Exclusive Rights"

    Well, it's cute but it isn't a signed agreement and in any case doesn't supersede copyright.

    My God, you actually said something correct! I'll have to look out the window to see if the pigs are flying.

    If that is what Ripoff Report's TOS says, they may have hoist themselves by their own petard, for as you say, exclusive copyright licenses do require a signed agreement. Such signatures can be electronic, but just posting something is not likely to count. Had they only gone for a non-exclusive license (which requires no signatures) they'd be on solid ground.

     

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    cpt kangarooski, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 1:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Copyright

    Imagine if I buy a music CD, I get a licence to play the music

    No you don't.

    You can only be granted a license for things that the licensor has rights to. Copyright includes many rights, but it does not include all performances of sound recordings and musical compositions; only public performances.

    Since the copyright holder has no right to prohibit private performance, he cannot grant a license. Instead you're just using your normal free speech right to perform the music, unhindered and uninfringed by copyright.

     

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  68.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 1:38pm

    Takedown Policy

    If a post is legally found to be defamatory, Ripoff Report should be required to remove it. They shouldn't be liable for any damages up to that point, but there should exist a mechanism under US law to force them to take it down and should be liable for refusing to do so.

     

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  69.  
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    crade (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 1:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Copyright

    Lets put it another way..

    For the exact same reason that the original author can't give permission to publish his content, then change his mind and sue the website to take it down, neither can the new copyright owner revoke the permission already given.

     

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  70.  
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    crade (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Copyright

    Or to clarify further, Goren can use the copyright to prevent Ripoff Report from publishing the content in a way that they have not already been given permission to do, but he cannot revoke permission already given. Whether or not you want to call it "continuing publishing" or just not deleting the copy that is already on the web server, they have already obtained the neccessary permission from the copyright holder to do it either way and copyright law doesn't give the copyright holder the right to revoke that permission after it has been given.

     

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  71.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 2:10pm

    Re: Takedown Policy

    > If a post is legally found to be defamatory,
    > Ripoff Report should be required to remove it.

    Absolutely. This is what puzzles me about the case. According to Mike's reporting, the court already ruled in Goren's favor regarding the defamation case, so it doesn't matter what Ripoff Report's own internal policy is, the court can and should order them to take it down. Once speech has been adjudicated as defamatory, it loses all 1st Amendment protection and no one has a right to publish it.

     

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  72.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 3:48pm

    Re: Re: Takedown Policy

    This is what puzzles me about the case. According to Mike's reporting, the court already ruled in Goren's favor regarding the defamation case, so it doesn't matter what Ripoff Report's own internal policy is, the court can and should order them to take it down.

    Not so. While not in the same jurisdiction, 7th Circuit correctly notes that even if a posting on Ripoff Report is judged to be defamatory, it can't force Ripoff Report to take it down, because Ripoff Report is not a party to the case (and can't be, because of 230). Court can order the author to take it down, since he's a party to the case, but not Ripoff Report.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110102/00241112482/two-courts-disagree-whether-not-web site-can-be-forced-to-remove-user-created-defamatory-content.shtml

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 3:50pm

    Re: Copyright

    I'm usually against the maximalist side of things around here, but in this case, this seems like Goren has a perfectly legitimate cause of action. The copyright belongs to him now, and he can enforce it for whatever reason he likes.

    How do you respond to the point multiple people made above that when the comment was posted, the poster granted an infinite, irrevocable license to Ripoff Report to publish the material. Under that, even if the copyright has been transferred, Ripoff Report can (and I imagine will) claim to have a legitimate license, even if the new copyright owner doesn't like it.

     

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  74.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 3:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Copyright

    "He's suing to stop the continuing publication of a work he now owns."

    Have you READ Section 230? They are explicitly NOT considered to be the publisher.

    "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider. "

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 4:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    "To answer several, you're relying on TOS, which is NOT law,"

    Hey, I'm all in favor of the transfer to the website being invalid. But read 17 USC § 201(e):

    "When an individual author’s ownership of a copyright, or of any of the exclusive rights under a copyright, has not previously been transferred voluntarily by that individual author, no action by any governmental body or other official or organization purporting to seize, expropriate, transfer, or exercise rights of ownership with respect to the copyright, or any of the exclusive rights under a copyright, shall be given effect under this title, except as provided under title 11." (Title 11 is bankruptcy, by the way, and this is not a bankruptcy case.)

    If the TOS is not valid and no rights were transferred to the website, then the judge's order has no effect under copyright law.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    You are really not the best person to criticise anyone else over being off-topic and stupid.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 6:12pm

    Now you don't have to click to see what's too wild for fanboys!

    This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it

    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 9:39am

    Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!
    But it absolutely is legal. Ripoff Report is trying to dodge liability as "service provider", just as Kickstarter dodges financial liability by calling itself "platform" not business, and just as Mike, and many others, dodge liability with Section 230 of DMCA with the same "platform" notion. SO by dodging liability in the first place, exercising NO editorial control, Ripoff Report proved that it DOES NOT OWN THE CONTENT, never did, therefore once assigned to plaintiff, there's NO safe harbor left because infringing. Cut and dried. They'd better accede.

     

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  78.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 8:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. I admit this is innovative!

    Hey Blue, be careful what you ask for.

    Mike, per Out-of-the-Blue's request, can you remove every post ever submitted by Out-of-the-Blue to this site please.

    no web-site has a right to leave up FALSE information once alerted.

     

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  79.  
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    ODD, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:25pm

    But wait a minute...

    Goren now owns the copyright and has taken possession of the defamatory opinion.
    If Goren now possesses the opinion:

    "that accuse Goren of a variety of illegal activities including things like fraudulently seizing assets from the elderly and child abuse"

    Does that mean it becomes a confession and statement of fact that are now supported by the opinion he possesses about himself?

    Furthermore if the user ("John Doe dba Arabiannights-Boston Massachusetts," "Steven DuPont," "Steven Christian DuPont" and "Christian DuPont") is an elderly person who has now had his asset seized (his copyright on the original work) then this acts as further evidence to support the statements that Goren now possesses about himself.
    Which puts Goren on the hook for a range of illegal activities.
    O_o
    Wow this legal stuff is complex but I think I'm getting the hang of it.

     

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  80.  
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    SeanSatori, Aug 2nd, 2013 @ 10:39am

    Re:

    17 U.S.C. §201(e) still applies, and the transfer is invalid. You have to transfer either complete ownership or the one of the exclusive rights to abrogate §201(e). The transfer under the site's ToS is a non-exclusive license, which isn't enough to meet that standard.

     

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  81.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Aug 2nd, 2013 @ 10:40am

    Re: Re: Copyright

    > How do you respond to the point multiple
    > people made above that when the comment was
    > posted, the poster granted an infinite, irrevocable
    > license to Ripoff Report to publish the material.
    > Under that, even if the copyright has been
    > transferred, Ripoff Report can (and I imagine
    > will) claim to have a legitimate license, even
    > if the new copyright owner doesn't like it.

    Courts are often very skeptical of boilerplate contracts of any kind, especially ones that contain all-encompassing phrases like "infinte" and "throughout the known universe", but if this is one that's found to be valid, then Goren will have to accept that.

    But my main point of contention was with the implication that Goren's thoughts and motives weren't pure enough; that the court should conduct some kind of examination of his motives before allowing his enforcement motion to proceed.

    Also, FYI, whatever coding you've added to the TechDirt site that makes those little "Share this story" bubbles pop up when text is selected slows my browser to a crawl when posting comments. It literally takes five to ten seconds for every set of characters to catch up with my typing, and this only happens after one of those bubbles pops up.

     

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

  82.  
    icon
    btr1701 (profile), Aug 2nd, 2013 @ 10:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Takedown Policy

    > Court can order the author to take it down,
    > since he's a party to the case, but not Ripoff
    > Report.

    As I read it, even if the original author asked them to take it down, Ripoff Report wouldn't comply because of its supposed "infinite" license.

    If Ripoff Report is taking proactive steps to prevent the enforcement of defamation remedies, then I'd say that vitiates any 230 defense they might otherwise have.

     

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

  83.  
    identicon
    Ron Riggs, Aug 2nd, 2013 @ 5:32pm

    ROR

    This story is misleading. The posting's on ROR are defamatory and they are usually posted autonomously.

    Second, for years ROR DID write their own stories and hired people to do so starting with A on the BBB site. As real consumers posted, they removed the ones they wrote.

    Thirdly, you act is if this defamatory site is serving a purpose. It serves adsense, that is it.

     

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

  84.  
    icon
    Bergman (profile), Aug 4th, 2013 @ 7:31pm

    Re: Re:

    And arguably more than just legal proceedings. Does the court order include an assumption of only lawful acts, or does it truly mean ALL steps?

    Could a court order you to bomb a server farm, for example?

     

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

  85.  
    icon
    Bergman (profile), Aug 4th, 2013 @ 7:33pm

    Re: Re:

    What judgment?

    If the state court isn't capable of transferring copyright ownership due to copyrights being exclusively federal, then the copyright was not transferred and the lawyer lacks standing to sue in federal court.

     

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

  86.  
    identicon
    Erin Gruba, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 6:32am

    Poop

    My name is Erin Gruba, and I think all you people up there who left a worthless comment are all pieces of shit.. Fuck all of you (:

     

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

  87.  
    icon
    BitterReality (profile), Mar 29th, 2014 @ 6:41am

    Lawyers aren't the most parasitic lowest life in the galazxy

    But they are really close friends with them.
    The only difference between a judge and lawyer is the number of layers of BS.

     

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


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