Sunday, January 11, 2009

Courts Seem to Protect Privacy Over Defamation

...We're beginning to think that a judge might be reluctant to rule as a matter of law that these stzatements aren't capable of a defamatory meaning.

- Sam Bayard, assistant director of Citizen Media Law Project

In Wendy Davis, "Model: I Am Not a Skank," Online Media Daily, January 7, 2009

Model Liskula Gentile Cohen has asked a New York court to force Google to reveal the name of a person who called her "skankiest in NYC," libeling her (she says) as promiscuous. A Google spokesperson said that while the firm sympathesize with victims of "cyberbullying," it also respects the privacy of its users. Whether the judge would consider the word skankiest as libel would depend on whether he considers the word fact rather than opinion. At least one court in California has held that using the term skank against someone is not libel because it is not a factual statement. A New York court also ruled that comments that might be considered factually negative (that a person is a bigot and has "no interest in helping the private school community") were actually opinions and so could remain anonymous. The next hearing in the Cohen case is scheduled for January 26.

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