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Mark Ishman Summarizes Key Internet Law Cases of 2013 – ONLINE DEFAMATION

Throughout the year of 2013, there have been many noteworthy Internet Law cases.  Any attempt to summarize all of these Internet Law cases would be an epic accomplishment.  Rather then attempt such an astronomical task, Internet Law Attorney, Mark Ishman, has chosen a few Online Defamation cases of 2013, and has provided short summaries of them to explain how each of these cases have added clarity to Online Defamation Law.

  • Under the Online Defamation “Doctrine of Republication,” alleged defamatory material is not considered republished when a website changes the online advertisements on the web page where the alleged defamatory material is published, even if the purpose of making such ad changes was “to reach a new or broader audience.” As a result, the statute of limitations for an Online Defamation claim does not reset every time there is a new advertisement that appears on the web page where the alleged Internet Defamation material is published.  In other words, mere changes in the advertisements that appear on a web page where alleged Online Defamation material is published does not alter the substance or form of the alleged Online Defamation material, and the Online Defamation Single Publication Rule applies.  Solomon v Gannett Co., Inc., Case No. A-6160-11T4 (Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division 2013), available publicly at <http://law.justia.com/cases/new-jersey/appellate-division-unpublished/2013/a6160-11.html>, Churchill v. State, 378 New Jersey Superior Court 471, 481 (App. Div. 2005), Firth v. State, 775 N.E.2d 463, 466-67 (New York 2002); see also <http://www.ishmanlaw.com/internet-defamation-lawyer.php>.
  • Under the Online Defamation “Doctrine of Republication,” alleged defamatory material is not considered republished when someone provides merely a link to the web page where the alleged Online Defamation material is published.  A link alone does not restate the alleged Online Defamation material and thus does not republish the material.  The Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a Pennsylvania Federal District Court decision, and reasoned that “if each link or technical change were an act of republication, the statute of limitations would be retriggered endlessly and its effectiveness essentially eliminated.”  In re Philadelphia Newspapers v. Vahan H. Gureghian, Case No. 11-3257, 2012 WL 3038578 (Third Circuit 2012), available publicly at <http://www2.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/113257p.pdf>; Salyer v. Southern Poverty Law Center, Inc., 701 F. Supp. 2d 912 (Western District of Kentucky 2009); Sundance Image Tech., Inc. v. Cone Editions Press, Ltd., No. 02-02258, 2007 WL 935703 (Southern District of California 2007); Churchill v. State of N.J., 876 A.2d 311 (New Jersey Super Court 2005); see also <http://www.ishmanlaw.com/internet-defamation-lawyer.php>.
  • Under California’s anti-SLAPP law, a tweet by an Internet Lawyer discussing the merits of his own pending case cannot be the basis for an actionable Online Defamation cause of action. Getfugu, Inc. v. Patton Boggs LLP, 2013 WL 4494952 (California Appellate Second District 2013), available publicly at <http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B231794A.PDF>; see also <http://www.ishmanlaw.com/internet-defamation-lawyer.php>.
  • Under § 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a website operator may be deprived of immunity if it significantly alters third party content by editing it and actually changing the meaning of the edited content and thus participating in the content’s development. Such reasoning can be applied to almost any contributory claim associated with Online Defamation material.  For example, changing ads, providing a link to, or tweeting about, alleged Online Defamation material is actionable only if such new ads, link or tweet is accompanied with new false, misleading or deceptive content that adds to the development of the prior existing Online Defamation material.  Ascend Health Corp. v. Wells, Case No. 12-cv-00083, 2013 WL 1010589 (Eastern District of North Carolina, March 14, 2013), available publicly at <http://www.dmlp.org/threats/ascend-health-corp-v-wells>; see also <http://cyberlawattorney.com/2013/12/03/when-can-you-overcome-§-230-immunity-defense/>; see also <http://www.ishmanlaw.com/internet-defamation-lawyer.php>.

If you believe that your reputation or business has been damaged by content published on the Internet (web page, blog, review website, Yelp.com, complaint website, or RipOffReport.com), or have been wrongly accused of publishing online defamation material, please contact Online Defamation Attorney Mark Ishman at the Ishman Law Firm at (919) 468-3266 or mishman@ishmanlaw.com.