Earlier this year, we wrote how odd it was that the company Cash4Gold (made famous by its cheesy late night commercials) was threatening
to sue bloggers for defamation for merely repeating and linking to a Consumerist article that quoted a former Cash4Gold employee about allegedly underhanded tactics used by the company. The defamation threat was odd for a variety of reasons. First, Cash4Gold itself was talking about these same allegations on its own website (which is actually the best way to deal with them: respond to them, rather than trying to silence them). Second, going the legal route only guaranteed much more attention to the issue and questions surrounding Cash4Gold's activities. Third, it made little sense to threaten someone who was merely summarizing what others were saying.
While Cash4Gold apparently backed off such threats, it did go forward and get an injunction against the former employee to stop her from "publishing any more confidential, proprietary information, and any defamatory information on the internet." I like how it mixes in confidential, proprietary and
defamatory information -- so now we don't know which the original reports were. Were they defamatory lies? Or were they just confidential, proprietary information?
Either way, with that injunction, the company contacted Complaints Board -- the site where the employee originally put forth the allegations -- and Consumerist, who also posted on the allegations, and demanded they remove the posts. Of course, with no legal order, both sites refused to do so. In response, Cash4Gold has now sued both sites
, once again guaranteeing that much more media attention is paid to alleged claims of underhanded business practices by the company.
Of course, rather than backing down, Consumerist is fighting this and
has posted a lengthy and detailed article
reviewing the original claims, backing many of them up with additional reporting details and pointing out that this is an ongoing news story that it believes it has every right to write about. Once again, though, we're left wondering why Cash4Gold would do this. All it's doing is drawing that much more attention to the claims against it.
The Citizen Media Law Project post above details two additional factoids about how Cash4Gold's lawyers are trying to get around the rather obvious (it seems) Section 230 safe harbors that almost certainly protect Complaint Board. First, they claim that because Complaint Board edited the title of the post, they're no longer just a service provider, but "created, developed and published." That seems like a long shot. Perhaps more likely to succeed is a reference to the recent Barnes
ruling, where Section 230 was tossed out the window after the company promised to delete the content in question (and then didn't). Of course, it's not clear if Complaint Board did, in fact, promise that, but Cash4Gold claims that it did.