Court orders Google to ID anon blogger who called model "skank"/"ho", blogger threatens Google with $15 mil suit

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99 Responses to “Court orders Google to ID anon blogger who called model "skank"/"ho", blogger threatens Google with $15 mil suit”

  1. Brainspore says:

    Can anyone cite a precedent where a corporation or individual was successfully sued for complying with a court order?

  2. Ulysses35 says:

    It seems to me that several issues are raised here that are worth discussing:

    One, while there is a perceived level of privacy in cyberspace, the perception is false. In fact, every key stroke is being archived somewhere.

    As was noted in a previous post, the blogger signed away his or her privacy when he/she pressed the “Accept” button when creating her blog. Read the fine print, people.

    Also, as noted, the free-wheeling cyber-community is not immune from libel, defined as the publishing of any false information which harms an otherwise private citizen. When someone is a public figure, like the model in question, the legal standard is much higher in proving libel. The threshold is called “actual malice”. Actual malice is defined as information published which is deliberately false, or published with a gross disregard for whether the information was true or false. By the way, the harm does not have to be financial in nature. The act itself is humiliating to the victim and therefore harmful.

    Truth is an absolute defense against libel, but a private person may be libelously harmed by the truth when, for example, they are singled out for scorn, such as images of obese people shown on a tv newscast about heart disease, without their permission.

    Finally, the case points out the incredible vitriol that people feel free to use when hiding behind a screen name. If people were forced to use their own true identities, would they every resort to this crass and low behavior?

    Discuss! By the way, I’m not a lawyer.

  3. superduper27 says:

    some commentary on craigslist about the situation with SFW partil nude photo of Rosemary Port..

    http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/rnr/1333933080.html

  4. PrestoVivace says:

    First they came for the bitchy fashion students…

    I am not so sure the court did the wrong thing. Skank and ho are particular accusations that could have ruinous consequences for a fashion model. It could limit your ability to represent particular brands. From little lies big lies grow.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I agree there are privacy issues involved.

    But…

    My favorite part of the whole thing is had the model let it go, it would have faded away. But now, Google the model & it’ll turn up her name and ‘skank’ – forever linking her to this regardless of context.

  6. Timothy Hutton says:

    Petty bitchy-ness aside, that blogger really needs to work harder and maintaining her secret – it must be possible to create a blog without revealing your identity.

    runs off to gmail and blogger to test out theory

    I was able to go to gmail.com, create an email account with no connection to me, and I was further able to create a blog on blogger without anything other than the above created gmail address. If queried, Google wouldn’t be able to find me without resolving IP addresses and working with my ISP to determine which account had that IP address at that time. If I were serious about hiding myself, a quick jaunt to the public library, coffe shop or other place with free wi-fi and I am hidden.

    I guess they don’t cover such things at FIT…

  7. PrestoVivace says:

    Technically, the model has a case because calling someone a skank or ho is a statement and truth can be measured (is she having sex for money or is she excessively promiscuous?) while if she’d flat-out just called her a bitch it would have been an opinion. It is also a statement that can easily be shown to affect the model financially – if she wasn’t being hired for jobs where the employers objected to that kind of behavior, or if a morals clause in a contract kicked in. Reputation can be very important in those situations. It is also clear that the intent was malicious.

    But let me also point something out: this is cyberbullying on behalf of the fashion student, and it’s not cool, and I would 100 times prefer than no one get to be anonymous on the internet than we choose to do nothing about cyberbullying – even between adults, where we otherwise expect them to “just get over it.”

    so good it had to be repeated.

  8. Takuan says:

    that all depends on how many guns are backing up that court.

  9. Takuan says:

    can all the rest of us sue these self-involved idiots for endangering us all?

  10. Timothy Hutton says:

    Takuan – his second “episode” should have revoked his probation from the first attack, so he likely has another year on his 3 year sentence from 2007, unless he got out for good behavior…

  11. Anonymous says:

    hmmm, golly gosh gee, I wonder what the first thing to pop up in google will be when I begin typing “Liskula Cohen is a” will be? hmmmmm, I can’t imagine….. Also the first several hits on a search merely for her name are all related to the SKANK issue. Ladies, gentlemen, we have officially hit Streisand defcon level 4.

  12. Church says:

    @11 Brainspore:

    Only works if they “unpublish” before the court order.

  13. Anonymous says:

    In many cases horrible problems have been avoided for the community as a result of anonymous blogging. This includes whistleblowing for white-collar criminals, community awareness when sexual predators move into the neighborhood, and many other alerts that are of great community benefit.

    Benefits notwithstanding, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs and anonymous free speech on the Internet is one such omlette. There is no such thing as free speech, there is always a cost. Sometimes that cost is acceptable, moreover desirable, particularly in the case of positive community awareness. But often their many false and deceptive rumors, and libelous attacks are motivated only by hatred and vindictive antisocial promptings. More often than not, these serial cyber defamers have some type of antisocial personality disorder. They have nothing better to do than hurt other people, in fact they are actually fueled by other people’s pain. Normal people like 97% of the readers of my comment cannot begin to relate to how these people think. Stop for a moment and imagine not having a conscience….. is simply impossible.

    A concerted, focused and malicious Internet smear campaign can be as devastating for a person that relies on his or her reputation for employment as a fire can be for a farmer who loses his fields, barns, and livestock.

    Respectfully submitted by Michael Roberts. Internet Libel Victim’s Advocate.

  14. mwschmeer says:

    I think this could all be settled with a naked cat fight.

  15. Bill Albertson says:

    Expecting a company to take liquidated damages on your behalf for a free service is a little out of line. If she wanted privacy, she should have:

    a) gotten DNS hosting from a foreign reg service.
    b) hosted her own server, or bought service outside of the US.
    c) expected every link in the chain of control leading back to her to be compromised anyways, and act accordingly in advance.

    The Internet isn’t as anonymous as many people would like to believe, and big companies aren’t as altruistic as they say they are. She just found out that little truth a little more painfully than others.

  16. Teresa Nielsen Hayden says:

    Timothy Hutton @79, are you defining “the right to anonymously post damaging libels of private citizens which serve no interest beyond personal malice” as an essential liberty? I doubt Franklin would have agreed with you. I don’t even think Tom Paine would have gone for it.

    Again, the test is to imagine that some large interest you’ve happened to offend — Big Pharma, perhaps, or Wal-Mart, or the National Pork Producers Council — is using their vast resources to do it to you.

  17. Razzabeth says:

    The question is, WHY did Google even have that information in the first place? Was the blog in question provided by Google? Was Google the ISP for the blogger?

    Google should be more responsible about not infringing people’s rights to free speech. When handed that court order, they should have counter-sued. Since they didn’t, now they are liable for tons of damages for revealing an identity that wasn’t even theirs to reveal. I hope that they end up having to pay Port the $15 mil, so that they can realize that defending people’s rights is more cost-effective in the long run. Money talks!

    BTW Liskula Cohen is a skank and a ho for undermining the basic rights and freedoms of her fellow Americans.

  18. Teresa Nielsen Hayden says:

    Anonymous @20:

    My favorite part of the whole thing is had the model let it go, it would have faded away. But now, Google the model & it’ll turn up her name and ‘skank’ – forever linking her to this regardless of context.

    Ynfg gvzr V cbvagrq gung bhg gb fbzrbar, fur fhrq zr.

    Maggie Koerth-Baker @39:

    To me, this is less of a personal privacy story and more a story about the ongoing struggle to hash out what, exactly, the legal status of bloggers is.

    IMO, it should be the same as any other publication’s, with just a couple of differences. First, in the absence of demonstrable physical or economic harm, there should be a fairly strict limit on the damages a large, powerful, or wealthy entity can collect from a very small one. Second, it should be made a lot easier for a small entity to countersue, get their costs repaid, etc., if they’re hit with a SLAPP lawsuit.

    I don’t think new media ought to be able to attack from behind a bulletproof shield of personal privacy or anonymity simply by virtue of being new media.

    Neither do I. In fact, I don’t think anyone should be able to launch anonymous attacks or distribute disinformation for fraudulent or malicious ends.

    I know the internet has picked up the habit of casual pseudonymity, but I don’t think that can endure. If the discourse of the internet is real, then real people must be responsible for it. I have great sympathy for anonymous whistleblowers, but for every real whistleblower, I see thirty or forty incidents of astroturfing, and the latter is becoming commoner, better-funded, and more sophisticated every day.

    As usual, I’m in favor of rule of law precisely because I’m one of the little guys.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know who is worse, the miserable corporation or the miserable judge.

    What’s a ‘skank’ or a ‘ho’ anyway? I looked them up in a book with words and definitions and couldn’t find either.

  20. Matthew Miller says:

    @21: Google owns blogger.com, which you could have easily found with a quick, um, Google search.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Regardless of the merits or otherwise of the case it would be nice if we could avoid the kind of sexism and misogyny on display by #3, #5, #10, #11, #19 and #21…

  22. Takuan says:

    the bad guys run things, the bad guys have always run things. Anonymity is one of the very few weapons the people have left.

  23. jimh says:

    @#19MWSCHMEER: It might not settle it, but we have to try.

  24. Takuan says:

    I was trying to ignore that in the the name of gravitas but you force my limb. Agreed, but there must be copious cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil.

  25. Teresa Nielsen Hayden says:

    Takuan, anonymity in the hands of powerful bad guys would be a terrible thing.

  26. Timothy Hutton says:

    Teresa – I was responding to your single statement:

    Takuan, anonymity in the hands of powerful bad guys would be a terrible thing.

    How would you strip anonymity from “powerful bad guys” and keep it for others?

    Sacrificing your rights to buy safety is exactly what Ben Franklin was talking about. One of the issues in Ben’s time was the quartering of British Soldiers in your house, eliminating any privacy for the homeowner…

    Rights apply to everyone, at least that’s how I was taught in school.

  27. Euryale says:

    Fellow commenters, can we stop using sexist insults to make a point, please? I get that “skank” and “ho” are on topic and all, but it’s still creepy. Yes, Liskula Cohen should have known better than to sue over someone hurting her feelings, but it’s the court’s job to filter out bogus claims. Blame the court for the privacy invasions, not Liskula Cohen.

  28. Anonymous says:

    It’s a horrible thing to be sexually promiscuous. It’s so bad that you can sue for defamation if someone says that about you. It could ruin your career.

    ..if you’re a woman. Because, well, standards are.

    “First they came for the bitchy fashion students…” is a great summary. I wish that was the first and only thing I’ve read about this.

  29. voidmstr says:

    Calling someone a ‘ho’ — a whore or prostitute — constitutes what’s known as “libel per se” libel by itself/obvious libel.

    This is the worst type of libel/slander under the law.

    That means you don’t need to prove malice on the part of the person who published the libel, and you don’t need to cite specific damages. General damages are OK.

    “…The more obvious of the two, libel per se, means“by itself” or “on the face of it.” The reader or viewerdoes not have to interpret or study in order to understandthe libel per se because it is obvious or evident. Libelper se is the more serious of the two types, and personslibeled in this manner do not have to prove that theysuffered damage to their reputations, monetary loss orother injury. Libel per se can support a lawsuit in itself…”

    http://www.tpub.com/content/photography/14130/css/14130_175.htm

  30. Patrick Dodds says:

    She’s NOT the model? Crikey.

  31. MrJM says:

    Truth is an absolute defense to defamation.

    – MrJM

  32. Takuan says:

    why is calling someone a prostitute an insult?

  33. Takuan says:

    is it still OK to make salacious allusions to the sexual congress of warm-blooded, live-bearers that lactate?

  34. Timothy Hutton says:

    Teresa Nielsen Hayden wrote:

    Takuan, anonymity in the hands of powerful bad guys would be a terrible thing.

    Yes Takuan, if we all just give up a little of our rights, we can buy our safety ;^)

    I’m sorry Teresa, but Ben Franklin had it right:

    They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither safety nor liberty.

  35. AnoniMouse says:

    @11 Anon

    “Wow, way for the blogger to put her self on the wrong side of the issue.

    I think the court order was wrongly decided, but suing Google for complying with it? For $15 Million? Dumb move, both legally and from a PR standpoint.”

    Why would it be wrong to sue Google? How is this a dumb move? A civil suit against Google isn’t dumb, legally or “from a PR standpoint.”

    She can file a civil suit against Google for releasing her personal information and appeal the decision. Please explain what you think she should do.

  36. Timothy Hutton says:

    Teresa Nielsen Hayden, wrote something that morphed into:

    Ynfg gvzr V cbvagrq gung bhg gb fbzrbar, fur fhrq zr.

    Has Boing Boing moved beyond dis-emvoweling and onto random trans-coding? Or is this some sort of “Jazz” typing for when words fail to convey your true inner-angst?

    I’ve not seen that before…

  37. AnoniMouse says:

    @11
    Strike my comment @79. Just read the Google TOS. She clicked away her right to privacy. Her suit wouldn’t get very far.

    But the civil suit, while it would be dismissed, would likely break some ground for future privacy laws.

    If she could prove to the judge that she deserves privacy and blogger=journalist, then maybe she could get some consideration.

    But the situation in question makes that unlikely.

  38. Church says:

    Oh, for frak’s sake. They’re both skanky skanks at this point, and the frakin’ court is a hive of skanky skanks. (Yeah, hold me in contempt of skanks.)

    Why the hell is anybody treating this like a serious question? Can I sue the bastard who called me a Goober in first grade and expect to get some serious attention from this court?

    I’m pretty sure that when I was younger, this kind of thing would not have been allowed to happen (or was just being allowed.) What the hell happened to the legal community in the past few decades that this is not a laugh-out-of-court issue?

  39. DaveP says:

    Razzabeth @28: no, that’s not the question–if you read any of the coverage you’d have that answered in a jiffy.

    People who have paragraphs of opinion about a story they didn’t even bother to read are weird.

    Brainspore @4: same reason personable doctors don’t get malpractice claimed on them. I’ll go a long way to stay out of a courtroom and I bet you will too.

  40. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Fellow commenters, can we stop using sexist insults to make a point, please?

    Seconded.

  41. Maggie Koerth-Baker says:

    To me, this is less of a personal privacy story and more a story about the ongoing struggle to hash out what, exactly, the legal status of bloggers is.

    I know a lot of bloggers who want the legitimacy of old media and who see a future where blogs are the public record that newspapers have been historically. But I also know that a lot of those same people don’t understand the legal ramifications and responsibilities that come with old media’s street cred.

    A newspaper or magazine columnist who called someone a “skank” or a “ho” might well be sued. Personally, I think that if a blogger wants to have a reporting/new media/public record sort of blog, they need to learn the legal rules and ethics of that role. When you don’t follow those, you might get sued. And I don’t think new media ought to be able to attack from behind a bulletproof shield of personal privacy or anonymity simply by virtue of being new media.

    The problem brought up by stories like this one is where do you draw the line between personal blog and public blog–and how do you apply the rules of being media fairly, without compromising the privacy of people who are honestly not trying to be media.

  42. Takuan says:

    lack of imagination should be punished.

  43. Timothy Hutton says:

    Takuan – thanks, I saw your comment just after reviewing the Moderation Policy (looking for loopholes… ;^), where I saw ROT13 mentioned. Thanks.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Apparently the plaintiff dropped the lawsuit once the blogger was identified.

  45. mdh says:

    voidmstr – your argument is absurd on the face of it.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Wow, I read a few comments and laughed a ton! #14, #16, and #24 cracked me up. Indeed, we should have a naked cat fight.

  47. mdh says:

    becuase a ho is not a prostitute. A ho is a caricature of a prostitute.

    Distinctions with differences – they go both ways.

  48. gollux says:

    Takes one to know one?

    Pot, I’d like to introduce you to Kettle here.

    By constitutional right, you have freedom of speech, doesn’t seem to mention anonymous speech last time I read it though.

    And in the face of the law, you can exercise your free speech doing defamation of character and libel, but there are consequences. I’d recommend Ms. Port start collecting her fact dossier so that she can back up the allegations.

  49. KristaK says:

    Hmm, my guess is that anom. blogger and Liskula Cohen both need to get a date. Too bad they just missed the “Fashion Meets Finance” event in NYC. This ridiculous event was supposed to bring together women in the fashion industry with men in the finance world..let the hilarity ensue. Check out this scathing review of the event here:

    http://www.askmelissa.com/index.php/out-on-the-scene/finance-meets-fashion/

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      This ridiculous event was supposed to bring together women in the fashion industry with men in the finance world.

      Not to be confused with the event that brings the men of fashion together with the women of finance. Usually held on the last weekend in June.

  50. deckard68 says:

    Since the case was not pursued, we’ll never know if “ho” is simply slang expression (as I believe it is in common parlance), or if it is a literal job description.

    …I hope someday we may learn if “yo momma” actually refers to your mother, or if it too is just an expression.

  51. Takuan says:

    google cynically brought this one to trial so a precedent could be set by using an utterly petty case.

  52. DWittSF says:

    Shouldn’t Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry share some of the blame, for popularizing ‘easy skanking?’

  53. Daemon says:

    Just for the record, replace “slashing attack” with “barfight”.

  54. gollux says:

    Agreed to this

    3. Privacy. As a condition of using the Service, you agree to the terms of the Google Privacy Policy (http://www.google.com/privacy.html), which may be updated from time to time, as expressed in the most recent version that exists at the time of your use. You agree that Google may access or disclose your personal information, including the content of your communications, if Google is required to do so in order to comply with any valid legal process or governmental request (such as a search warrant, subpoena, statute, or court order), or as otherwise provided in these Terms of Service and the general Google Privacy Policy. Personal information collected by Google may be stored and processed in the United States or any other country in which Google Inc. or its agents maintain facilities. By using the Service, you consent to any such transfer of information outside of your country.

  55. demidan says:

    “Well, Liskula Cohen’s Mom’s a bitch,
    she’s a big fat bitch,
    she’s the biggest bitch in the whole wide world,
    she’s a stupid bitch,
    if there ever was a bitch,
    she’s a bitch to all the boys and girls.

    Monday she’s a bitch,
    on Tuesday she’s a bitch,,,”

  56. Brainspore says:

    OK, I think Gollux just settled whether or not the bitchy fashion student has any case against Google. Now to answer the question of whether the skank-ho has any real grounds for a defamation case.

  57. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Just for the record, replace “slashing attack” with “barfight”.

    Just for the record:

    “On January 14, 2007, Samir Dervisevic, a New York City doorman, struck her in the face with a bottle. She was rushed to a hospital where she received 46 stitches. Derisevic pleaded guilty in October, and was sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years’ probation, according to court records. He was arrested again in July 2008 and charged with a similar crime.”

  58. Deidzoeb says:

    This just in. Someone standing under the monkey bars called Cassandra a “pee-belly”. Fearing another attack by juvenile litigants, Google pre-emptively identified everyone who was ever anonymous or pseudonymous.

    [By reading this comment, you agree to relinquish all expectations of privacy.]

  59. Anonymous says:

    at first i was like “wtf”, but then i read a few replies and i feel differently now. the fashion student was “cyber-bullying” the model plain and simple. and i didn’t think so at first, but the court absolutely did the right thing. the student cannot be compared to a whistle blower because public well-being was in no way at stake. now, i’m also wondering why anonymity is an issue? when i express my thoughts aloud for others to hear anonymity disappears. why should the internet provide me with some kind of cloak of invisibility that allows me to be careless with my words?

  60. Takuan says:

    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/08/blogger-unmasked/

    gee, someone bad-mouthed someone to someone’s boy-friend and now the regime’s torturers have a full dance card.

  61. Takuan says:

    “be evil”

  62. Bookyloo says:

    Reading about this whole case, I don’t think anyone has paid enough attention to how the face-slashing incident may have played into her decision to have the blogger forcibly unmasked. It wouldn’t be unreasonable for her to fear that the guy who did jail time for cutting her face open might also have started a blog for the sole purpose of calling her names. (it had only a handful of entries and ALL of them were about Liskula Cohen.) Maybe she just wanted to know whether it was her attacker, attacking again. And since it wasn’t, she dropped the case. That’s what I think happened. Not some dumb model bitch who couldn’t handle being called a ho–I think this may have been a woman with a legitimate fear she might be in some danger.

  63. InsertFingerHere says:

    Ummm…Rosemary is hawt.

  64. Takuan says:

    let’s hope this bag of shit Dervisvic never gets out. Or has he already?

  65. gollux says:

    @BrainSpore – what follows is a rhetorical me-you

    Technically, yes. If I can prove damages from loss of sales, or in this case, loss of contract jobs due to your libelous statements, I can take you to court. You have damaged my reputation, and my ability to do business. Sure, it’s only some model here, but that is the basic case being made. Now the ball is in your court. You have to prove that you are speaking the truth, and have to bring evidence to back it up to win that case.

    The case goes beyond just a simple cat-fight when someone’s professional (loosely applied here) standing is sullied. There is plenty of judicial precedent to back that up.

    And if the ruling goes against you for defamation, it had better have been worth it. I watched a guy get nailed to a wall for using the internet to make false claims against a local business. Because it could be proved that the activity had come from the company he worked for, both he and his employer got hit for attorney fees and damages.

  66. Anonymous says:

    Technically, the model has a case because calling someone a skank or ho is a statement and truth can be measured (is she having sex for money or is she excessively promiscuous?) while if she’d flat-out just called her a bitch it would have been an opinion. It is also a statement that can easily be shown to affect the model financially – if she wasn’t being hired for jobs where the employers objected to that kind of behavior, or if a morals clause in a contract kicked in. Reputation can be very important in those situations. It is also clear that the intent was malicious.

    But let me also point something out: this is cyberbullying on behalf of the fashion student, and it’s not cool, and I would 100 times prefer than no one get to be anonymous on the internet than we choose to do nothing about cyberbullying – even between adults, where we otherwise expect them to “just get over it.”

    The press is not dead and if anyone has any information of actual relevance to the world around us that needs to be anonymous to get it out there publicly… Deep Throat did it years before the Internet reporting machine. There is no scandal so horrible that no one can make money by reporting on it.

  67. Takuan says:

    yeah… I can’t see simple name calling as grounds for legal force being used. Can the model prove any civil damage?

  68. Takuan says:

    is a model a public figure?

  69. Brainspore says:

    gollux #54:

    Technically, yes. If I can prove damages from loss of sales, or in this case, loss of contract jobs due to your libelous statements, I can take you to court.

    Yeah, I imagine the model should have a real easy time with that part.

    AD EXEC #1: “That Liskula Cohen would be a perfect spokesmodel for our new fragrance! Let’s sign her to a multi-million dollar contract, pronto.”

    AD EXEC #2: “Not so fast. An obscure anonymous blogger has apparently called Ms. Cohen a ‘skank’ and ‘an old hag.’ We can’t risk having those associations made with our product.”

    AD EXEC #1: “Sweet Jesus! We sure dodged a bullet with that one! Cancel our subscription to Vogue immediately.”

  70. Machineintheghost says:

    I don’t understand how this could go far. The plaintiff is saying Google harmed her by complying with a court order. So Google should have simply disobeyed the court? And if she would win, what would she get but a court order telling Google to pay her some money, which Google would have to obey, because court orders are sacrosanct?

  71. mdh says:

    I thought it had to be false to be libel.

  72. Brainspore says:

    Why do so many important civil liberties cases have to involve horrible people doing nasty things to each other? Don’t get me wrong- I’m a big ACLU fan, but it would be so much easier to get public support for these causes if the protagonists were more likable.

  73. t3knomanser says:

    Another good argument against trusting other people with your data. That court order is for legal action that’s questionable at best- the skank can’t sue people for being insulted. It doesn’t work that way- namecalling is protected speech, and the ho’s lawyer should know that, and the judge should definitely know that.

    @brainspore – popular speech doesn’t need to be protected.

  74. phisrow says:

    @Brainspore: Unlikeable defendants make the best precedent.(If you like your powers expanded and your safeguards elastic, that is.)

  75. Takuan says:

    hey! does this mean I can finally put a rope around Drugs Windbag’s neck?!

  76. Talia says:

    Completely ridiculous. The court was way out of bounds.

    It’s not google’s fault, but it seems like SOMEONE should be held accountable for a ruling that seems like it was done on a bored, immature judge’s whim.

  77. mdh says:

    Brainspore – because nice rational people treat each other well and can compromise to avoid legal action.

  78. Davidget says:

    Liskula Cohen and Rosemary Port are both skanks.

  79. Anonymous says:

    Wow, way for the blogger to put her self on the wrong side of the issue.

    I think the court order was wrongly decided, but suing Google for complying with it? For $15 Million? Dumb move, both legally and from a PR standpoint.

  80. Anonymous says:

    Following the Manhattan court precedent, I’d like to sue a number of politicians and pundits for implicitly stating that I and 150 million other people are traitorous, communists, fascist, anti-American terrorists.

    Seriously though, anyone that doesn’t understand the internet is mostly good for porn and anonymous defamation (or, preferably, both at the same time) should be laughed at, not empowered by the judicial system.

  81. Anonymous says:

    Ten comments so far and not one person has mentioned how laughably incompetent you have to be to publish things “anonymously” in such a way that anyone (including google) can reveal your identity.

    Visa gift card bought with cash, typepad account accessed through a proxy, using a public wi-fi connection … it’s not difficult.

    The fact that the commentary is focusing on the bounds of the court, or the legality, or the behavior of google shows that most Internet consumers take the underlying relationships for granted.

    Which is sad.

  82. jaynesworth says:

    “First they came for the bitchy fashion students…” Can I get that on a t-shirt?

  83. highlyverbal says:

    Attention: every clever commenter claiming “truth is the perfect defense to libel” type things

    You are far LESS clever than you think you are. You have fundamentally misunderstood what is going on. NO ONE expects to win a slander lawsuit in these circumstances. But, please understand: the only person who can respond with “my claims are true (or merely opinion)” is ONLY the defendant. Not Google. Google is not considered a party, by the courts.

    The only purpose for this lawsuit is to reveal the identity. Once the defendant was identified, she said the necessary legal incantation, and the case went away. Never saw the inside of the courtroom. Poof! Gone.

    Put aside your outrage that someone would sue over this, that was merely a gambit.

    Do you get it now?!

  84. Brainspore says:

    Ooh, I’ve got a new idea for testing the limits of BoingBoing’s privacy policy:

    Liskula Cohen is a skank and a ho and Rosemary Port is a beady-eyed little sack of bitterness!

    Now we see what happens when the lawyers come a-knockin.

  85. Takuan says:

    and do you get that the precedent will mean someone will one day face a firing squad? Do you get it now?

  86. Ulysses35 says:

    It seems to me that several issues are raised here that are worth discussing.

    One, while there is a perceived level of privacy in cyberspace, the perception is false. In fact, every key stroke is being archived somewhere.

    As was noted in a previous post, the blogger signed away his or her privacy when he/she pressed the “Accept” button when creating her blog. Read the fine print, people.

    Also, as noted, the free-wheeling cyber-community is not immune from libel, defined as the publishing of any false information which harms an otherwise private citizen. When someone is a public figure, like the model in question, the legal standard is much higher in proving libel. The threshold is called “actual malice”. Actual malice is defined as information published which is deliberately false, or published with a gross disregard for whether the information was true or false. By the way, the harm does not have to be financial in nature. The act itself is humiliating to the victim and therefore harmful.

    Truth is an absolute defense against libel, but a private person may be libelously harmed by the truth when, for example, they are singled out for scorn, such as images of obese people shown on a tv newscast about heart disease, without their permission.

    Finally, the case points out the incredible vitriol that people feel free to use when hiding behind a screen name. If people were forced to use their own true identities, would they ever resort to this crass and low behavior?

    Discuss! By the way, I’m not a lawyer.

  87. EH says:

    Threats of legal action in order to invade someone’s privacy should not go unpunished. It should be considered to be assault with a legal weapon.

  88. W. James Au says:

    Our online civil liberties are being undermined by an insanely hot model! Health reform is about to be defeated by a former beauty queen from Alaska! What’s next, a US foreign policy crisis in Turkey is precipitated by Kim Kardashian’s ass?

  89. Guesstimate Jones says:

    Let the evidence speak for itself:

    http://internetdefamationblog.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/liskulacohen.jpg

    I rule in favor of Ms. Port…

  90. HotPepperMan says:

    Hmmm. The term ‘skank’ is option to different definitions. Without seeing the article itself, she could have been calling her a Brazilian dance…

    Here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skank

    … additionally, she could have been mistaken regarding her ethnicity and thought she was one of the Ho people in the Indian state of Jharkhand…

    Here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ho

    There are many more definitions. It is all subject to interpretation and a good lawyer.

  91. Antinous / Moderator says:

    First they came for the bitchy fashion students.

    Leaving…?

  92. jfrancis says:

    @11

    Is one of them a ‘bitchy fashion student?’

    :o

  93. Stephen says:

    This raises the question of what the correct recourse is when a judge makes a unjustified ruling a against you in a situation in which subsequently reversing the ruling doesn’t help. Suing Google for following a court order is bizarre. But can she sue the judge? Can she sue Google for failure to appeal?

    It seems like her chances of getting a career out of this were a lot better before she sued.

  94. Thalia says:

    1. Google was well within its rights, as that’s part of their Terms of Service which Ms. Port agreed to.

    2. Ms. Port did libel Ms. Cohen. She actually went significantly further than calling her a ho, and posted verifiably untrue things.

    3. Ms. Cohen did have a reasonable case for libel. The fact that she has been previously attacked, and the specificity of the blog posts certainly would make a reasonable person apprehensive.

    4. There is a reasonable chance that Ms. Cohen actually dropped the suit not because this was merely a gambit, but because she knows Ms. Port and now has reevaluated the threatening language on that blog.

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