Traverse Internet Law


Traverse Internet Law continues to monitor the Courts for decisions and judgments of legal import. A federal jury on Friday returned a judgment in favor of the Recording Industry Assocation of America against a Boston University graduate student for $675,000 for copying 30 songs. This is the second big judgment entered recently against copyright infringers of music online. Charles Neeson, lawyer for the defendant, had asked the jury to return a minimal judgment and send a message out to the music industry to stop pursuing these types of cases. The jury did not agree, and at Traverse Internet Law we continue to believe that the best approach when caught with infringing materials is to consider negotiating a resolution rather than risking both financial ruin (the defendant is threatening bankruptcy) and, just as importantly, reputational devastation from all the attendant publicity.

Traverse Internet Law‘s John W Dozier Jr, author of Google Bomb , a book about online defamation on your bookstore shelves September 1, 2009, reports that five former employees of a Guess Jeans founder have been awarded $370 Million by a Los Angeles jury for defamation related to comments contained in emails and other communications sent by the defendant, Georges Marciano. Mr. Marciano is currently running for California governor. Traverse  Internet Law will continue to monitor developments.

Traverse Internet Law reports that a South Carolina state court has awarded Scott Brandon $1.8 million in damages for defamation arising out of statements published on a Myrtle Beach based blog. Brandon, who is the head of an ad agency, sued in 2008 claiming that Wizeman was the author of Myrtle Beach Insider and that Wizeman had defamed him by publishing a June 2007 post calling him a “failed lawyer” and criticizing one of his ad agency’s campaigns. Traverse Internet Law reports on significant online defamation cases that lead to monetary judgments.

The $1.8 million award came after Circuit Court Judge Diane S. Goodstein assigned a “special referee” to determine damages and the court official, acting in place of the Judge, recommended an award to Brandon of $800,000 in compensatory damages and $1,000,000 in punitive damages.

Traverse Internet Law continues to see judgments in excess of $1 Million for online defamation and Mr. Dozier’s upcoming release date for the “Google Bomb” book detailing this incredibly complex area of law is set for release September 1, 2009.

Traverse Internet Law reported on its main blog portal that a federal jury in Texas has returned a $12.5 Million Judgment against conspirators involved in launching a “sucks site” against ORIX Capital Markets. The award was for $2.5 Million in compensatory damages and $10 Million in punitive damages.

Traverse Internet Law is a big proponent of using the conspiracy laws to hold all participating in mobosphere attacks responsible legally.

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.

Traverse Internet Law reports regularly on lawsuits and judgments being entered around the country. And the size of judgments keeps getting bigger and bigger. An Iowa federal judge recently entered a judgment after trial for $236 Million against an alleged spammer, including individual owners. And Facebook just took a judgment for $873 Million against an individual who was misusing its networking services.

Both judgments were taken against individual defendants. At Traverse Internet Law we find that many small businesses believe that if they incorporate their business then only the corporation is liable. This is rarely true. For instance, individuals and managers are often liable personally for trademark infringement, copyright infringement, and a host of other violations. And corporation entities are relatively easy to pierce to get to the individual owners given the informal operations of most small online businesses today. Dozier Internet Law suggests that you not assume that a corporation is much protection at all.

Traverse Internet Law has learned of an award for $35,000 in the UK against an individual who posted a false profile on Facebook about the plaintiff. The posting was reportedly in retaliation for past business disagreements and the profile included accurate information to lend it credibility, and also set forth libelous, inaccurate, misleading, and damaging information. In reviewing the award, Traverse Internet Law notes that the award was based upon defamation and privacy violations, and given the expansive view of personal jurisdiction in the UK in defamation cases, it is important to note that someone posting defamatory statements in the US could be subject to defending a lawsuit in the UK.

Traverse Internet Law was advised today that a Final Order was entered for Judgment in the sum of $689,749.75 against AXACT (PVT), LTD on behalf of Student Network Resources. The judgment was widely reported as a copyright infringement claim entered for the infringement of term papers. So Traverse Internet Law pulled the pleadings, and reviewed the file. The basis for the judgment was a number of torts relating to copyright and DMCA abuse, not straight copyright infringement. Most important for web based businesses, however, is the continuation of the string of huge court judgments approaching $1 Million being entered against Internet businesses and the scofflaws of the web…and at Traverse Internet Law we represent businesses and professionals targeted with this type of misconduct.

Traverse Internet Law deals with a lot of online defamation for clients around the country and world and we monitor legal decisions. A recent report is revealing in terms of the liability associated with the publication of false information online. Richard Warman, a lawyer, was recently awarded a judgment of $50,000 and then the Judge issued an injunction requiring the defendant to issue a retraction, remove comments from the web, and publish nothing that is defamatory in the future. Mr. Warman, a well known attorney trying to eradicate Internet hatred, was the subject of a “mobosphere attack” resulting from comments published by the defendant and others taking his lead. At Traverse Internet Law we take particular notice of the basis for the monetary judgment, which included the Judge’s conclusion that the comments of the defendant “by their volume and wide dissemination” exposed the Plaintiff to “hatred, contempt and ridicule”, which sounds an awful lot like a “mobosphere attack”.

An excellent court decision crossed my desk at Traverse Internet Law about the August 28, 2008 First Circuit Court of Appeals opinion confirming a judgment for over $400,000 against a small business for Trademark Infringement. The defendant used a competitor’s name in its “metatags”, and in the content of the site in white lettering with a white background, obviously for SEO purposes. Both the US District Court that awarded the judgment and the First Circuit agreed that both uses infringed on the plaintiff’s trademarks and confirmed the judgment.

Dozens of these types of cases are pending across the country. The primary issue is whether the use of a business name either directly or indirectly by a competitor is trademark infringement. Six cases were filed last month over this issue. At Traverse Internet Law we deal with this issue often, and it is garnering the attention of businesses, lawyers and the Courts in a big way.

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