Archive for the ‘Texas’ Category

Record Jury Verdict for Online Defamation in Texas

Friday, April 27th, 2012

topixJurors in Texas have handed a $13.8 million libel verdict to a married couple defamed on Topix.

Debra Cassens Weiss reports in the ABA Journal that Texas lawyer Mark Lesher and his wife Rhonda filed the suit against four defendants who posted anonymous comments accusing the couple of molestation, drug dealing, and perverted sexual behavior.

The Tarrant County jury apparently set a new record for online-libel verdicts. According to the Leshers, more than 25,000 defamatory posts forced Mark to shutter his law practice and Rhonda to close her beauty salon.

Meagan Hassan, the Lesher’s attorney, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “This was clearly a vendetta.”

“We originally sued 178 John and Jane Does, and it all came down to two IP addresses,” she said. That led them to a married couple, Shannon and Gerald Coyel, and two employees of the couple, Charlie and Pat Doescher.

A few years ago, Shannon Coyel had accused the Leshers of sexually assaulting her. That led to a case and an acquittal in 2009.

Court in Texas Should Uphold the Full Lousiness of Patent Law

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Over on my Pixelization blog, I’ve explained why I think a ridiculous patent that threatens Silicon Valley should have carried the day in a federal court in Texas:
Court in Texas Should Have Upheld the Full Lousiness of Patent Law

SOPA Stopped – For Now

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Under a wave of phone calls and social-media attention, Lamar Smith (R-Texas) abruptly called an end to the hearings on SOPA, saying they would be rescheduled for the future. Lamar Smith is a toughie. So getting him to take a step backward is quite an accomplishment!

More:

Texas Court Rejects Ex Parte Request for Restraining Order Against Blogger

Monday, December 27th, 2010

From the websites of dueling Dallas neighbors Lost Society and Barking Dogs

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press reports that a court in Texas has tossed out a request for a restraining order against a blogger.

The plaintiff, Fernando Rosales, sought the injunction to stop blogger Avi Adelman of BarkingDogs.org from writing about Rosales’s Dallas nightclub, Lost Society. [LINK WARNING: excessive levels of décolletage and thumpy music!]

The injunction request was related to a defamation suit against Adelman. Also noteworthy in that suit, Adelman has invoked Texas’s shield law in resisting a subpoena served by Rosales seeking sources relating to a post about a shooting in the vicinity of the bar.

From BarkingDogs.org:

Lamebook v. Facebook

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

A blog called Lamebook that posts funny Facebook status updates has been threatened with a trademark infringement lawsuit by Facebook. Seeking to vindicate their rights, and probably trying to keep the lawsuit near home where it will be cheaper and easier to deal with, the folks at tiny Lamebook have sued megalithic Facebook for declaratory judgment in Texas. (TeleCrunch, Washington PostHuffington Post)

I haven’t read the pleadings, but this sounds like a strong case for Lamebook. That is, if they can survive a blizzard of high-paid lawyers and billable-hour-sucking motions.

Lamebook should have the right to pick an name and identity that calls to mind Facebook where, as is the case here, it is undertaking an activity that directly concerns Facebook, and it is producing content critical of Facebook.

In my view, that’s not actionable under trademark law, and, to boot, it’s protected First Amendment activity.

But let’s face it: Justice isn’t perfect and dollars matter. We’ll see if Lamebook can survive Facebook’s trademark bullying.

Go Lamebook!

Dallas Morning News Supports Federal Anti-SLAPP Law

Friday, June 11th, 2010

The Dallas Morning News has written an editorial (here) supporting the efforts of U.S. Representative Charles Gonzalez (Democrat from San Antonio), who is trying get a federal anti-SLAPP law passed.

The Dallas Morning News’s reason? To protect bloggers:

Blog participation is exploding, and consumers increasingly are using their keyboards to vent frustrations over being cheated or mistreated by companies. Once posted, those complaints can fall under state defamation laws. In other cases, lawyers for a company criticized on the Internet often sue by claiming “tortious interference” – that the blogger is hindering a company’s right to conduct business.

Company Assisting Adult-Content Industry Sues Chicago College Student Over Anonymous Blog Posts

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Remove Your Content, LLC is suing a Chicago resident over blog posts. Remove Your Content, according to its complaint, “was formed to help combat copyright infringement and piracy on the internet. Plaintiff provides various services to its clients, such as searching for illegally uploaded content, sending Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices, and working with websites to remove the stolen content.”

The specialty of Remove Your Content is working with adult entertainment industry clients who believe their content is being hosted on other persons’ websites. The complaint accuses the Chicago-area college student of being behind anonymously authored websites such as removeyourcontentsucks.blogspot.com, which criticizes Remove Your Content and its owner, including with regard to the use of takedown notices.

The student denies he is behind the blogs, and he claims in motion papers that evidence coming out of the Rule 26(a) disclosure proves that he is not the individual responsible for the critical blogs.

Remove Your Content’s allegations are, according to the student, based on information gathered through subpoenas sent to Google, AT&T, and a university.

In addition to questions on the merits, there is also a jurisdictional question. Remove Your Content filed the lawsuit in its home state of Texas. The defendant avers that he has never traveled to Texas prior to the lawsuit.

[This post was revised in a few minor substantive ways after June 3, 2010. My policy is to eliminate typo-type problems on an ex-post basis without notation; but where I change things around more than that, just for the sake of good record-keeping, I make a note. – EEJ]

Texas Man Argues State Harassment Law Unconstitutional, Cites Implications for Blogs

Friday, May 14th, 2010

An appeal to Texas’s Court of Criminal Appeals is arguing that Texas Penal Code § 42.07 (prohibiting electronic and telephonic harassment) is unconstitutionally overbroad, violating the First Amendment.

The appeal in the case of Scott v. Texas (nos. PD-1069-09, PD-1070-09) results from the conviction of Samuel Scott for harassing phone calls and voice-mail messages directed to his estranged wife. Mr. Scott was sentenced to two days in the Bexar County jail and a fine of $50.

Scott’s brief argued that blogs and social media are singled out for criminal sanction where traditional media is not:

In our fast growing social media world Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and any number of blogs all facilitate electronic communication. It is absolutely legal and expected that in societies people will argue, debate and verbally confront each others’ ideas. When one annoys another on the street corner, or at a town hall meeting, or even in the newspaper opinionated editorial section no one can be arrested. But if someone tweets, chats, posts or blogs the same Texas Penal Code § 42.07 makes it illegal.

The brief is on Westlaw: 2010 WL 1683760