by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 18th 2013 6:42am
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Dec 19th 2012 1:57pm
Victoria's Secret Doesn't Want To Be Associated With A Campaign About Respecting Women, Issues Takedown
from the no-respect dept
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Dec 18th 2012 7:10am
from the wac-wac-wac'ing-that-mole dept
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Dec 13th 2012 3:20am
from the nice-little-site-you-have-there dept
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Nov 15th 2012 1:48pm
from the how-not-to-internet dept
Phil Buckley has a story of a Massachusetts-based moving company, called Casey Movers, which appears to have violated both of those rules, starting with a legal threat to Buckley's wife concerning a negative review she had written about Casey Movers 18 months ago, after her parents had a very bad experience with the company. It first took the company over a year to even notice the review and then post a weak defense of its practices. It didn't respond to any of the specific complaints about unprofessional behavior or broken promises. It only focused on the amount that the company had been willing to pay for damages, and gave a somewhat "technical" response about how this was what the "insurance option" she chose provided -- and even could be read as scolding her for not choosing the more expensive insurance option.
And yet... five months later (18 months after the original complaint went up), the same guy who wrote that bizarre defense sends a threat letter saying that the company is prepared to sue for libel if the review isn't removed:
Someone decided enough was enough and decided to get some good reviews at CitySearch where they now have a majority of good reviews, except there’s a problem, they’re not real reviews. You may ask how I can say that with so much confidence? Go look at them yourself, one after another… notice how most names are generic or don’t have a human photo? Yes that’s level 1 of suspicious reviews. Start looking at the reviews the “people” have left. It’s quite a coincidence that so many people who have used a Boston moving company have also loved a sprinkler repair guy in Anaheim, California and Fun Hawaii Travel out of Honolulu.His investigation also turned up that the company had been posting images of positive review letters that some customers had signed, but in doing so, revealed all their private info. Buckley contacted a few who seemed surprised and said that they had not provided permission to reveal their private info.
They also have a flurry of activity in August of 2012 – Aug 1, 2, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14. That seems a bit sketchy as well.
For a while, Casey Movers and the main representative of the company involved in all of this, Matthew Overstreet, basically ignored Buckley. But as his story kept getting more attention, Overstreet finally reached out to Buckley -- and again just kept focusing on the "insurance coverage," a relatively minor issue (made even more minor following the ridiculous threat of a libel lawsuit). Eventually, Overstreet called Buckley on Wednesday night and seemed to indicate that there wasn't any interest in actually suing, though he refused to promise not to sue Buckley's wife.
Either way, the whole story is yet another fun one to include in the long list of companies who get on the wrong side of the Streisand Effect. Going beyond that, it really shows how a bogus legal threat can lead to not just backlash and attention, but also much deeper investigations into whoever originated the threat -- and that might turn up other questionable activity, such as posting likely fake positive reviews to try to counter the real negative reviews. Oops.
by Tim Cushing
Tue, Nov 13th 2012 2:29pm
'Revenge Porn' Site Owners Escalate Their Failure, Going From Bogus DMCA Notices To Bogus Legal Threats
from the we're-going-to-need-a-bigger-FAILboat dept
Needless to say, the criticism hasn't ceased and nothing has been taken down. In fact, the boys have moved past the DMCA process and have moved on to completely bogus legal threats to us here at Techdirt, and a number of other sites as well. As described by Popehat, who has received an identical threat, it appears that Trahan and Brittain have decided to dive right into the always-entertaining "bumptious legal threat" arena.
Craig and Chance are now resorting to legal threats. One of them — probably Craig — has left two identical threats here, as well as at Adam's blog, on Wikipedia, and on a satirical video by Captain Obvious:Adam refers to Adam Steinbaugh, who has been recapping the ongoing Is Anybody Down saga at his blog. This same "legal notice" has also been "served" to Is Anybody Down's Wikipedia page, which ironically enough is already slated for deletion. (Oh, and the Captain Obvious video is worth a watch, along with an earlier video dealing with infamous legal threatener, Charles Carreon.) [Oh, and remind me to start a tumblr called "Slander and Screen Shots" when I get some free time.]"Be advised that these actions, your slander and screen shots can and will be used as key factors should a case be pursued against you. Your posting, advertising, marketing, dissipating and otherwise disseminating the slanderous materials constitute actionable violations of Mr. Trahan and Mr Brittain's rights of privacy and publicity."
Now, what did I say about starting a war of words with someone who knows way more words than you do? Ken at Popehat tears apart this latest missive from the overmatched duo, so that we don't have to:
This is a notably, remarkably stupid comment, even for an Internet Lawyer. First, slander is verbal; libel is written. Second, "be advised" is a reliable tell of an empty threat. Third, nobody is "marketing" anything; that sounds like an attempt to fabricate a copyright claim. All criticisms are non-commercial, making all quotes and screenshots fair use. Fourth, you gravel-knuckled troglodyte, you mean disseminating, not dissipating, and that word's already in the sentence. Fifth, Trahan and Brittain have no privacy or publicity rights to be free of criticism or satire, however popular that approach is to would-be censors.This ongoing battle has all the hallmarks of a popcorn-worthy event (and it appears we now have a front row seat). On one side, you have respected and intelligent legal minds. On the other, two lugs who thought they could smarm their way into some easy money, only to find themselves neck-deep in a self-made hole. It appears their constant shouts for "MOAR SHOVEL!" very possibly won't be silenced until the dirt is well over their heads.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Oct 25th 2012 2:36pm
from the you-wouldn't-want-to-do-that,-now... dept
That said, it appears that the Justice Department has seen the PR reports about the new vaporware and are effectively pre-warning Dotcom not to go forward with the plan.
A new filing from the DOJ in the US side of the lawsuit (embedded below), is really a response to Megaupload's recent request to have the charges against the company temporarily dismissed until such time as the individual defendants are extradited. As we've explained, this is mostly a procedural fight, over whether or not the company itself can be charged, despite not having a US presence. None of that directly impacts the individuals who have been charged, but certainly could impact the company's ability to launch a new business.
The DOJ filing mostly argues that there is no legal or practical reason to allow the case to be dismissed, even temporarily, as the individuals are still charged, and re-charging the company at a later date will just waste resources. It also argues that Dotcom's US-based lawyers are the real problem here, as they had offered to accept service of the lawsuit in exchange for some sort of deal early on (which the DOJ refused).
What's interesting about the filing is that, without directly addressing the new effort to launch Megabox or whatever Dotcom is calling the new thing, they appear to be warning him that doing so may lead to additional charges against him. The argument as it relates to the procedural question is that, in his push to be allowed to post bail in New Zealand, Dotcom clearly indicated that he would not and could not restart Megaupload or a similar business, because the government had so completely shut him down. As that relates to the procedural question, the DOJ is arguing that there can be no "harm" to the company Megaupload because Dotcom has already said he won't relaunch the company. So if he won't relaunch, what does it matter if the company is charged now or later?
But then the DOJ goes a little further. After it uses all those quotes of him promising not to relaunch anything while out on bail, the DOJ tosses the following into a footnote:
Defense Counsel’s claim that the corporate defendant can and should be allowed to operate undermines the sworn statements of Dotcom that he has no plans or ability to continue to operate or fund the businesses in the Indictment during pendency of the extradition process. If defendant Dotcom intentionally misled the court in New Zealand about his intentions and capabilities in order to obtain his release from pre-extradition confinement, it seems Defense Counsel’s representation might endanger Dotcom’s bail situation or even subject him to additional charges.In other words, beyond this procedural question, the DOJ is hinting that if Dotcom launches something new, they may say he violated the conditions for getting bail.
The DOJ also uses this as an opportunity to (once again) try to block Megaupload from using its law firm, claiming that because the lawyers are arguing for the case against Megaupload to be dismissed, and this might lead Dotcom to launch something new, that there's a conflict of interest:
The issue raised by the claim of Defense Counsel is particularly awkward since defendant Dotcom is also their client. As the government has pointed out repeatedly, there are a number of conflicts in Defense Counsel’s representations of the various defendants in this matter, of which this is only the most recent example, that have yet to be reviewed by the CourtNone of that actually makes much sense. Whether or not they have a legitimate claim for getting the case against Megaupload dismissed, that is a separate issue from whether or not Dotcom launches something new. While I'm guessing the procedural fight is a dead end, the fact that the DOJ is even using that to toss additional threats at Dotcom should he launch his new project shows that they'll leave no stone unturned in trying to hit back at Dotcom.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 24th 2012 1:41pm
from the bad-hosting-company dept
Reed was arguing that comments on the site were defamatory, though it's telling that his lawyers went straight to the hosting company, rather than the site itself. Even so, PhoenixNAP was under absolutely no legal obligation to comply. Unlike the notice-and-takedown provisions of the DMCA, when it comes to defamation, hosting companies have even greater safe harbors under Section 230 of the CDA, which makes it clear that service providers are not liable for speech made by others. Period. They don't have to take down the content. If Reed wants to sue those who actually made the comments (which are Lipstick Alley users, rather than Lipstick Alley itself), that's his business, but PhoenixNAP is under no obligation to do anything.
Amazingly, even after being informed of this, PhoenixNAP stood by its decision (with the exception of noting that it should have informed Lipstick Alley's owner that it was cutting off the site). As noted by Public Citizen's Paul Levy:
In response to a strong protest, Phoenix NAP acknowledged that its failure to give notice was a mistake in process, but it had no sympathy for Lipstick Alley’s legal rights; PhoenixNAP told me that it takes claims of defamation seriously and, without regard to the merits of the dispute, its customers must “resolve the issue with the complaining party.” Indeed, PhoenixNAP was not at all disappointed to learn that Lipstick Alley felt it could no longer continue as a hosting customer, because, apparently, PhoenixNAP believes that web sites on which users can post comments generate too much trouble. The discretion accorded to hosting services to avoid certain kinds of web sites is the other side of the coin from the important protections that section 230 affords, but consumers should be aware of the limitations before they are induced to sign on as customers. PhoenixNAP might consider doing a better job of explaining its preferencesThese days, if you're hosting a website, you want a hosting company that will stand up for your rights, and recognize its own rights as well. This move by PhoenixNAP has made it clear that it doesn't stand up for its own customers, and it should raise alarms for anyone who hosts a website with PhoenixNAP. Apparently the company will shut you off if anyone complains, and it's your problem to deal with it. That's not a hosting company that I would want to work with. Furthermore, as Levy explains, actions like this only encourage more complaints to be sent their way:
You would think that a hosting service like ServerBeach or PhoenixNAP would respond with hostility to complainants who take their demands straight to the hosting service instead of beginning with the web site where supposedly improper content is hosted. When the service responds directly, and especially when it responds by taking down the customer’s entire site, the service not only encourages others to impose on the service by complaining there instead of to the underlying site. The service also risks losing long-term customers who think that they ought to be given a bit more respect.As for the complaints of defamation against Lipstick Alley itself, the site has made it clear to Reed's lawyers that it is also protected by Section 230 (pdf) and that the site "does not negotiate with bullies", such as those who send questionable takedown notices to web hosting companies rather than going to the appropriate parties.
It is not only hosts of message boards or bloggers who allow comments who should worry about PhoenixNAP’s attitude about mere claims of bad content. With PhoenixNAP playing the role of super censor for any web site it hosts, whenever an unhappy target of criticism takes its complaints straight to the data center, no web site operator can be confident about using its hosting services for sites that discuss public issues or public figures in ways that those who can afford to hire lawyers to send threatening letters may not like.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Oct 5th 2012 8:41am
CISPA Author Ramps Up The FUD: Claims He Can't Sleep At Night Due To 'Unusual Source' Threatening Us
from the oh-come-on dept
"We think there might be one last shot here -- maybe I'm just an eternal optimist -- to get this thing sparked back to life."It really was just a few days ago that we wondered if the government was going to start using stories of "new threats" to try to ram through legislation. That's basically been the plan all along. Tell scary ghost stories, none of which have any actual facts behind them, until people feel compelled to pass the bills. What's never mentioned is whether or not any of this is effective or a reasonable response. Also missing: any discussion of what is the actual problem being solved today. Rogers' CISPA bill, for example, focuses on information sharing, but fails to explain why the necessary information sharing is being blocked today, or why the bill can't just target the few issues that block such info sharing.
Driving the interest, he said, has been a series of briefings for key legislators "on what appears to be a new level of threat that would target networks from -- I've got to be careful here -- an unusual source."
Rogers has been giving fellow legislators a "glimpse" of this new danger. "I figured if I can't sleep at night, why should any other member of Congress?" He declined to describe the threat, citing the highly classified nature of the information. "I look really bad in orange -- those orange jumpsuits with the numbers on the back," he said to laughter.
Of course, at the very same time that he's telling scary ghost stories about monsters in our wires keeping him up at night, he's absolutely livid that no one in the White House came to talk to him about their own plan for a cybersecurity executive order. So, apparently, we're all going to die in the night if we don't let companies and the government spy on us more easily... but the White House's plan to do something about that is "irresponsible." Right.
from the determining-real-vs.-fake dept
So, I find it somewhat troubling that police in Canada seem to think that any threat online or off is a criminal offense. There's been an increase in people charged in Canada for merely making a threat, and some are reasonably concerned that many of those threats are idle chatter on social networks. The article seems to think that there's no good way of dealing with this other than to change the law so that online threats are treated differently than offline threats:
Section 264.1 of the Criminal Code says a person who knowingly utters, conveys or causes another person to receive a threat of death or bodily harm can receive a prison term of up to five years. A person who threatens to damage property, or kill or injure an animal, can receive a prison sentence of up to two years.Of course, rather than separating out online and in-person speech, what's wrong with just looking at the details of the situation, and making a reasonable assessment as to whether the threat is legitimate or just someone saying something stupid? In the cases of Chambers and Lipari above, law enforcement should have quickly realized that neither individual was likely to do anything violent. But if someone is legitimately planning to shoot at a group of people and talking about it online, it seems that, at the very least, that could be worth investigating. The problem is criminalizing the statement, rather than using it as evidence to see if there's actually any real intent to follow through.
Cpl. De Jong said under the Criminal Code “a threat is a threat is a threat,” regardless of how it’s made.
But Bentley Doyle, of the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C., said some sort of distinction should be drawn between online threats and those made in person.
“The more specific you get, the easier it is to actually follow through and charge somebody specifically,” he said.