Miami Heat Owner Sues Blogger & Google Over 'Unflattering' Photo
from the this-isn't-going-to-end-well dept
The full story is even more ridiculous as you dig into the details. It turns out this is the second time that Katz has gone after this blogger. The first time was for defamation. For what? For running a blog that talked about Katz and his company... and, from the sound of things, posted legal documents that apparently Katz didn't want posted.
Where it gets really bizarre is the massive overreach on the defamation side of things. Because the bar for defamation on a public figure it quite high, Katz's lawyers claim that he's not a public figure -- despite being an owner of the Miami Heat, despite being a well-known successful real estate developer, and despite the fact that there's a street named after him and an "official day" in his honor. Instead, his lawyers have argued that getting the press to report on Katz's legal overreach is an attempt "to make Katz a public figure" even though he clearly is one and has been one. Either way, the blogger, represented by Marc Randazza, responded strongly to the ridiculousness of Katz' original lawsuit. You can see that response below, calling out the fact that a demand for an injunction against any future publication on the blog (as Katz requests) is clear prior restraint and based on no accepted legal theory in a defamation case.
Separate from that lawsuit, it looks like Katz and his lawyers have now tried a second approach, which appears to be an attempt to use the DMCA to censor. He claimed that the "unflattering image" above violates his copyright. A DMCA takedown was apparently issued to Google, who refused to comply. So now both the blogger and Google have been sued. Of course, it's unclear to me how he even holds the copyright in the photo, since he didn't take it. Either way, given the previous actions in the case, it certainly feels like this is a SLAPP-style suit, filed just to be a nuisance to the blogger who didn't fold under the defamation claims (and yes, to Katz's lawyer, that's an opinion). Update: I've added the filing in the copyright lawsuit below, which adds one other detail: the photograph is not registered for copyright in the US. Katz's lawyers point out that since the photo was originally from Israel it doesn't need to be registered, which is true, but could limit the effectiveness of any lawsuit. Separately, according to Randazza, Katz claims to have had the copyright in the photo assigned to him from the original photographer. None of that changes any of the analysis here about the lawsuits in question.
Of course, all this has really done is activate the Streisand Effect, and get a lot more attention to Katz, to the lawsuits, to the blog and, of course, to the photo itself. You would think that someone with so much money and business success would have thick enough skin to know how to ignore such things. In the meantime, Randazza has pointed out how bizarre it is to go from suing an individual blogger to adding one of the largest companies in the world to the fight on the other side, for no good reason:
My guess is that their strategy is this: If you keep whiffing against a small time blogger, you might as well then just pick a fight with one of the biggest companies in the world. Sit back and get your popcorn and watch how this one works out. I want to thank Mr. Katz for bringing in an 800 lb gorilla to help me in his unsupportable SLAPP suit.Sometimes I think there should be mandatory training on the Streisand Effect before one is allowed to become a lawyer.
We have yet to speak to Google's lawyers about this case, but we expect that they will be receptive to standing up for the First Amendment along with us.