CyberSLAPP Suits & Your Blog

a94_w10.jpgThis is just one of my blogs. I have others.

One of them is Medical Spa MD, a blog for physicians in medspas and cosmetic medicine where there's a pretty active community. Medspa MD has around 50,000 unique visitors a month, mostly doctors, who are interested in both the business and treatment aspects of cosmetic medicine.

Medspa MD's become the defacto leader for docs in that field and as such it's become both an aggregator and a target. Loved by it's members and hated by those who have a less than pristine reputation. This has led to the following confrontation.

Dermacare and it's CEO Carl Mudd want to sue eveyone on Medical Spa MD.

A few of the posts on Medspa MD is a bout a medspa franchise called Dermacare and it's CEO, Carl Mudd. 

Together, these three posts have mucho comments. The middle one is gong to break 700 shortly.

Evidently, Dermacare and it's CEO Carl Mudd are not pleased since they sent me this email and letter threatening me with some sort of action if I didn't hand over all of the IP addresses of everyone who's commented.

This sort of action is both extremely cynical and growing in popularity. It's called a CyberSLAPP Suit and it works like this: If you don't like what someone is saying about you on the web you file a suit. This allows you to issue subpoenas to whoever you like. So now you can find out who these individuals are and threaten to haul them into court. It uses a lawful procedure to effectively intimidate dissent and free speach, both of which are protected after all.

If you've never run into this, count yourself lucky, but don't think it couldn't happen to you. It's a dragnet. 

Here are some links about these kinds of CyberSlapp suits and where the law comes down on free speech and other issues around this:

Chilling Effects Clearinghouse: A joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, University of Maine, George Washington School of Law, and Santa Clara University School of Law clinics.

Do you know your online rights? Have you received a letter asking you to remove information from a Web site or to stop engaging in an activity? Are you concerned about liability for information that someone else posted to your online forum? If so, this site is for you.

The law of defamation balances two important, and sometimes competing, rights: the right to engage in free speech and the right to be free from untrue attacks on reputation. In practice, the filing or even the threat to file a lawsuit for defamation has sometimes been used as a tool to shut down legitimate comments on the Internet.

John Doe Anonymity
Do you post to a public message boards or discussion areas on websites such as Yahoo, AOL or Raging Bull? Do you use a pseudonym, fake name or a "handle"? Has someone asked the host of the discussion or your ISP to turn over information about you or your identity? If so, then the John Doe/Anonymity section may answer some of your questions.
Topic maintained by Stanford Center for Internet & Society

Protest, Parody and Criticism Sites
The Internet, which offers inexpensive access to a worldwide audience, provides an unparalleled opportunity for individuals to criticize, protest and parody.