Law Students Suing Law Students Ends In Settlement

from the precedent-missing dept

We've covered the lawsuit over comments on the site AutoAdmit for the past couple years. The quick summary is that AutoAdmit is an online forum for law school students where, like many online forums, sometimes the conversations get pretty mean. Two female Yale law students sued the site and a bunch of anonymous commenters, after they posted some mean things about them. There's no denying that the comments were pretty obnoxious, though it's not clear that, given the context, anyone took them seriously. The women claimed that they had trouble getting jobs because of the comments, but there was little evidence to support that either. Still, you had a bunch of law students angry with each other, so of course lawsuits were filed -- some very badly (such as against one of the guys who helped run the site and was clearly protected from liability).

Some were hoping that this lawsuit would create new rules concerning online defamation or other "mean" content online. For example, there's been a push for a DMCA-style "takedown" system that would require sites to take down such content. However, in this case, it looks like no precedent will be set at all, as the parties have all settled and the terms of the settlement are confidential (found via Thomas O'Toole).

The issue is a tough one, certainly. It's no fun to be on the receiving end of such speech -- but should it be illegal or should there be an automatic takedown system on such content? That seems extreme and questionable when it comes to the First Amendment issue. In the end, I think the context of the content remains important -- and content in such a forum, where it was pretty obviously ridiculous, is the sort of thing that's better left ignored, rather than filing a lawsuit over it.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    FacePlant, Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 5:15am

    Future Ambulance Chasers

    DMCA style takedown for things we don't like.

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 6:05am

    I'd be a horrible judge as i would just say "Grow a spine! Case dismissed!"

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

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 6:22am

    Wow, people not taking responsibility for their own actions. Why am I not surprised? If you don't want online postings to come back and bite you in real life, DON'T POST! Or at least, don't post anything you'll regret later. I learned this lesson early, before it cost me my own job opportunities.

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 7:04am

    ESR has a well thought out piece on censorship and Public Space in Cyberspace

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

  5. icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 9:51am


    Agreed ... my thought was get thicker skin, case dismissed

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

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