Oh boy. Back in August of last year, EasyDNS announced that it was being sued
in an Ontario small claims court for refusing to take down a website. The lawsuit was filed by a guy named Andy Lehrer, who was upset about another website that makes fun of Andy Lehrer
(and may, possibly, include defamatory statements). Whether or not that site is defamatory is between Lehrer and whoever made the site (and, potentially, a court of law). Lehrer demanded EasyDNS take the site down, but the company (rightfully) pointed out that it would need a court order before doing so. But, instead, Lehrer went after EasyDNS in a lawsuit, naming it as a "co-defendent" and demanding $25,000 and injunctive relief (i.e., that the site be taken down).
In November, EasyDNS wrote about the case again
, pointing out that it was seeking to get out of the case, because it shouldn't be considered liable for what a user did on his own site just because EasyDNS hosts it. Also, small claims court doesn't provide injunctive relief as a remedy anyway. In response, it appears that Lehrer has decided to amend his complaint against EasyDNS
, specifically arguing that the company further damaged him by writing about the case
. Seriously. From the lawsuit:
54) Further, the Defendant EasyDNS has, on August 22, 2014, November 13, 2014 and December 10, 2014, posted publicly about this lawsuit on http:/blog.easydns.org and directed people to the Defendant Rourke's content despite knowing that the Plaintiff views this content as defamatory. According to a chart posted on the Defendant EasyDNS's November 13, 2014 posting, the earlier blog entry of August 22 resulted in substantial increase in the number of individuals viewing the causepimps.ca website. The postings by EasyDNS constitute egregious and non-content neutral behaviour which is contrary to the EasyDNS's claim of "innocent dissemination" and deserves the censure of this court.
55) In addition, in reaction to the within proceeding, the Defendants easyDNS and Rourke have both published the statement of claim on their respective websites. In addition, Defendant EasyDNS has published the statement of claim on the online publishing platform Scribd. The Defendants have thus furthered the libels after being put on notice of the defamation. Their conduct is egregious, is deserving of the censure of this court including the imposition of punitive damages.
56) The Plaintiff pleads that the Defendants deliberately, intentionally or recklessly harmed and damaged the Plaintiff by publishing and distributing the defamatory words and that they acted with actual malice by either publishing and distributing the defamatory statements with the knowledge that the information was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.
Got that? Merely writing about the case apparently is a cause of new action, as is, apparently, posting the public document
filed in the lawsuit. But that's absurd. Lehrer's entire lawsuit is premised on the idea that the content is obviously defamatory, but as EasyDNS pointed out to him, that's a matter for the courts to decide, not a hosting provider.
In the US, thankfully, things like Section 230 of the CDA would immunize against any kind of legal attack like this -- but Canada doesn't have an easy out like that, which means it's likely that EasyDNS will have to go to court and defend itself using basic common sense on liability, noting that it's just the host and not responsible for the content, and that it would be absolutely insane
to hold it liable for the content. Finally, as of this amended complaint, it will have to explain why talking about a lawsuit and filing the public documents related to that lawsuit is not some sort of egregious behavior that deserves "the imposition of punitive damages."
Once again, we're left amazed at how some people assume that anything they don't like online must be illegal, and everyone else must be responsible for it.