MagicJack Tries To Silence Boing Boing; Loses And Has To Pay $50,000

from the slapp-that dept

MagicJack, a VoIP-dongle solution that I've used in the past, has a reputation as a product that actually works pretty well, but the company behind it has some serious problems. It's marketed aggressively on cable TV, has put misleading claims on its website, hides important things in the fine print and is not particularly good with customer service. Also, the software, once installed, is quite difficult to ever remove. In 2008, BoingBoing wrote a post detailing the shadier practices of MagicJack. Rather than doing the smart thing and improving those practices, MagicJack decided to sue BoingBoing. That was a mistake. It was a clear SLAPP case, and after MagicJack effectively had to admit that nothing in BoingBoing's post was actually wrong, the judge dismissed the case and ordered MagicJack to pay BoingBoing $50,000 in legal fees.

Thankfully, BoingBoing was helped by the fact that California has a strong Anti-SLAPP law -- something that the rest of the country could use. What's more telling (and interesting) than the dismissal, however, is that MagicJack had originally agreed to settle the lawsuit, and pay BoingBoing's legal costs (after the company's CEO realized that the case was a lost cause and -- he claimed -- his own lawyers had failed to properly notify him of California law), but backed out when BoingBoing wouldn't agree to keep the lawsuit and settlement confidential.

Again, that suggests a company that knows what it's doing is shady, at best, but rather than having any interest in improving the way it goes about its business, wants to keep things hidden.

I have to admit, I really don't understand why MagicJack feels the need to work this way. It's a decent product that should be able to sell on its own merits, explaining openly what it does, rather than hiding stuff in the fine print and falsely claiming how many people are signing up to use the device. Imagine if, instead of suing and losing and getting all of this negative publicity, the company had just cleaned up its act, been open about things, apologized for its earlier mistakes and focused on building a better business?
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: defamation, eulas, magicjack, slapp
Companies: boingboing, magicjack


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Anony1, 23 Feb 2010 @ 4:25pm

    Hey people where's that Imagine spirit Mike was brining up?
    Let's all get along in peace...ohooohoooo...LOL.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.