Before You Threaten To Sue Someone Over Their Website, You Might Want To Understand The Web

from the a-little-suggestion dept

We get to see ridiculous legal threats all the time. Sometimes we get such legal threats directly (my favorite was the big name analyst firm that once threatened to sue us because we linked to their own press release), but more often we hear about the ridiculous legal threats made to others. However, in all the bizarre and ridiculous legal threats, it would appear that Mike Arrington over at TechCrunch may have just won the award for both the most ridiculous and the most persistently wrong threatener. Arrington shares on his site how he received an email demanding $150,000 for a photo of the actor Ashton Kutcher that TechCrunch was using “to generate traffic and revenue.” The guy sending the email claimed to represent the interests of the photographer of the photograph — and said that if Arrington didn’t pay up quickly (and quietly), he would file a suit for $1.5 million. It’s hard to start on what’s wrong with the lawsuit, but the obvious place is the simple fact that TechCrunch never hosted the picture in question. Instead, someone in the comments once linked to a website that hosted the picture, and if you did a search in Google for Kutcher’s name, the photo showed up connected to TechCrunch because of that link.

Even ignoring the ridiculous amount being asked for and the clear confusion over how Google and the web work, what’s even more bizarre about this is that when this was pointed out to the guy, rather than understanding what happened, he just became even more defensive. He somehow thought that it was TechCrunch’s responsibility to get the photo taken off Google. He then started calling TechCrunch’s advertisers and threatening them saying that they would be a part of the lawsuit that he was intending to file. Arrington wrote up a detailed explanation of this… and then the guy started posting a series of poorly spelled comments trying to defend his position — insisting that the photographer was “robed” and that it was clear TechCrunch had something to do with it. Congratulations, Mike, you’ve won the award for the most bizarre and persistently ridiculous legal threat we’ve seen. And that’s saying a lot.

Filed Under:
Companies: google, techcrunch

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Comments on “Before You Threaten To Sue Someone Over Their Website, You Might Want To Understand The Web”

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darkbhudda says:

Not long ago someone sent legal letters to a website in Oz because of comments in one of the forums about the shoddy service of the company. Hardly anyone had heard of this company before. Well the story made a huge number of websites and some of the papers. Instead of a couple people not liking their service, the company now has thousands of people who actively despise it.

John (profile) says:

What lawsuit?

I didn’t read the entire linked article, but from the information that’s posted, I don’t think there’s even a real lawsuit here. (Not counting the fact that the guy is suing the wrong people.)

I would be willing to bet that this guy is simply taking a “shotgun” approach and threatening to sue anyone he can, just to get some money out of some people.

I mean really, if you’re going to sue someone, why send them an e-mail asking for a smaller amount as an agreement not to sue? Obviously, even the guy suing knows he doesn’t have a case.

By the way, isn’t this called “extortion”? If TechCrunch is considering a counter-suit, how about a criminal charge as well? Yes, TechCrunch would obviously win the lawsuit, but how much would they have to spend on court fees to fight it?

Second, even if the guy had a case, wouldn’t his lawyer tell him to NOT talk about the case to anyone… and especially NOT to argue with the defendant on his own message board?!?

The real title of this article should be “Before You Threaten to Sue Someone Over Their Website, You Might Want to Understand the Law”.

Oh, wait, this was all about getting money from a threat to sue and not about actually filing a real law suit. My mistake. 😉

Search* Engines Web (user link) says:

OMG - Talk about Publicity!!!!!!!


That guy in the photo got more than he bargained for – alot more.

That Techcrunch piece made the homepages or both Digg and Reddit at the same time. As well as being featured on dozens of blogs.

So in essence, that model in the photo got tens of thousands in free viral publicity that will last for months – also the startup in question got just as much free publicity.

All it cost them was ONE LETTER that just happen to get reviewed on one of the most popular blogs in existence on a slow news day

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