This isn’t your grandma’s defamation suit. We’re entering the world of social media litigation, and as a legal nerd, I have to say that I’m excited. With all of the statements, opinions, observations, and thoughts being flung around the Twitter world, it was only a matter of time before a big defamation suit surfaced.
The alleged tweet-bully is Courtney Love (who actually said goodbye to her tweeps in October after posting some risqué photos), who is being sued by fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir. Back in 2009, Simorangkir tried to collect for some of her designs, and Love wasn’t too thrilled. Love claims that she had already given Simorangkir over 40k. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Love hopped on her Twitter account and “announced that Simorangkir was a drug-pushing prostitute with a history of assault and battery who lost custody of her own child and capitalized on Love’s fame before stealing from her.” Tweet tweet, indeed. Love’s venting didn’t end there, however; it continued for several days on sites like My Space and Etsy.com.
So will tweets be held to the same standard as other statements? Simorangkir’s attorney Bryan Freedman (of Freedman and Taitelman, LLP) thinks so. Freedman, who believes this case is the “first-if-its-kind,” told the Wall Street Journal Law Blog (“WSJ”) that “[d]efamation is not judged by what form it’s in, but rather is judged by the [accuracy of a] statement itself.” Freedman is hoping to turn those tweets into cha-ching, telling the WSJ that Simorangkir should be compensated with “potentially millions.” Makes you think twice before you input those 140 characters.
According to the WSJ, Love’s attorney James Janowitz (of Pryor Cashman LLP) takes a much different view and doesn’t believe the case is “groundbreaking.” In fact, he doesn’t believe Love’s remarks were defamatory nor does he think Simorangkir’s business was harmed.
We’ll have to wait to see what happens when the trial begins in Los Angeles on January 18. Witnesses include a social media expert and a medical expert. I wonder what the hashtag will be for the trial (#lovelawtweet? It sounds like a fun 70s slogan).
Wall Street Journal Law Blog Source
The Hollywood Reporter Source
Bryan Freedman of Freedman & Taitelman, LLP
James Janowitz of Pryor Cashman LLP
NY Daily News Source regarding Love quitting Twitter
To learn more about defamation, click here for the Media Law Resource Center
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