December 2008


Traverse Internet Law reports today that a self styled “free speech advocate” has been ordered to pay a Court judgment of $30,000, and the Ontario Court of Appeal added another $10,000 in legal costs in a decision confirming the award. The defendant had earlier reported that the Appeal Court judges were “snapping and confrontational” during his hearing earlier in the week. At trial, the Judge described the defendant’s defamatory attacks against the lawyer as a “steady diet of diatribe and insults, couched in half-truths and omissions…” and rejected a free speech and fair comment defense. The defendant posted on his “free speech” website that he is $17,500 behind in legal bills, and he is trying to raise money to pay his bills, the judgment, and/or appeal again to the Supreme Court. At Traverse Internet Law we are seeing a pronounced trend among the Courts to view claims of “free speech” with increasing skepticism in an apparent response to the realities of the impact of the veritable tidal wave of false and damaging online personal and business attacks.

At Traverse Internet Law we have defended many cases Microsoft has filed over the years. Usually they are settled and Microsoft is reasonable in the process. You generally cannot look to the amount of a judgment to really know what the settlement was since often there is a private settlement far lower in terms of dollars in the agreement. The judgment is entered and can be used by Microsoft to collect if the settlement agreement is violated by the Defendant.

In this case, the amount of judgment was $700,000 and not only did Microsoft rely upon the judgment terms to try and collect, but a criminal charge for contempt of court was brought when Carmelo Cerrelli allegedly continued to sell unlicensed copies of Microsoft software. Traverse Internet Law rarely sees things go this far in post judgment remedies. The Judge found him in criminal contempt of court and fined him an additional $100,000.