Outed Blogger Plans To Sue Google; Skank Model Mess Gets Messier
from the fun-to-watch-from-the-sidelines dept
Earlier this year, we wrote about how model Liskula Cohen bizarrely
sued “sought pre-action discovery from” Google on an anonymous blogger for putting up a blog that referred to Cohen as a skank, an old hag, a “ho” and a few other choice phrases. Of course, pretty much no one would have seen such a blog if Cohen hadn’t gone legal about it, claiming (with no proof) that she was losing jobs because of it (which seems difficult to believe). We were disappointed that a judge found the insults on the blog to be “defamatory,” and ordered Google to reveal the blogger — which it did. However, the now revealed blogger, Rosemary Port, is now pissed off and planning to sue Google for $15 million for exposing her.
As much as I agree that she should have been able to remain anonymous, I’m not sure what legal grounds Port has to make such a claim. Her attorney says Google: “breached its fiduciary duty to protect her expectation of anonymity,” which hardly seems likely to stand up in court. Google had no such fiduciary duty, and was ordered by a court to give up the name. Her lawyer is right in noting that anonymity is “inherent in the First Amendment” (and many courts have found this to be true), but that has nothing to do with Google. Google is not the US gov’t and the First Amendment doesn’t apply to Google. I would have no problem with a lawsuit appealing the ruling to reveal Port’s name, but that’s not a lawsuit against Google. Bad lawsuits begat bad lawsuits.
Separately, Cohen’s own lawyer is claiming that Cohen is dropping the defamation lawsuit against Port (which is not what she was claiming last week) and the whole thing seems to have descended into screaming back and forth — with arguments over who should forgive whom.
But there is one other interesting tidbit. We’ve pointed out how ridiculous the original lawsuit was, as it only called that much more attention to Cohen and the idea that someone finds her “skanky.” Port claims that probably the only two people who saw the site prior to the lawsuit were Port and Cohen. When it was pointed out that this whole lawsuit brought a lot more attention to the idea of Cohen as a “skank,” Cohen’s lawyer claims “If we had thought for a minute that the Google case would have brought more attention to the anonymous blogger’s site, we never would have started it.” Perhaps that’s true, but if it is, Cohen and her lawyer seem particularly clueless about how the internet works and how news spreads.
In the end, this whole thing has the feel of a big publicity stunt, wasting public resources and the court system to get both Cohen, and now Port, a bunch of free media coverage. Basically, we have back and forth lawsuits that are really just attention-grabbing attempts by people who felt “insulted” by others’ actions. Despite Port’s claims that the founding fathers wanted to preserve her right to privacy, this legal mud-wresting contest is probably not what they had in mind.