James Smith, motivational speaker. (Image: James Smith's Real Estate Group of Companies, Inc.; used without permission)
Motivational speaker James Smith has filed a defamation lawsuit aimed at some online tormentors who’ve accused him of extramarital wanderings. (Ha’p MLRC)
Smith is a “Get Motivated” speaker and purveyor of such programs as “Stock Cash Flow 3-Day Training” and “Tax Liens & Deeds Self Study Program.”
The defamation lawsuit is aimed at Complaintsboard.com, Artvoice.com, and the Xenophilia blog for defamation. The central allegation is (I think) that anonymous commenters accused Smith of having an extramarital affair.
It’s kind of hard to tell what the allegations are because the complaint [pdf], filed by the Stevenson & Smith, P.C. law firm of Ogden, UT, is a bizarre mess.
For example, one defendant, WordPress.com’s parent, Automattic, is being sued on the theory that, well, uh, I just don’t know. WordPress.com is a blog host, and Xenophilia is hosted on WordPress.com. Those are the facts. Here is what is alleged.
8. Defendant Automattic, d/b/a WordPress, d/b/a Xenophilia (hereinafter “Xenophilia”) is a California corporation doing business worldwide via the internet.
9. Defendant Xenophilia runs a website known as WordPress. Wordpress provides free blog hosting for its users. One such user is the Xenophilia blog located at xenophilius.wordpress.com.
These attorneys don’t seem to understand much about blogs – nor did they bother to learn much before they filed the complaint. Clearly, they don’t seem to understand the difference between a blog host and a blog.
Nor, does it seem, do they understand the difference between a blogger and a commenter.
Here’s a passage I particularly like from paragraph 23:
Neither Complaintsboard.com, Arvoice.com or WordPress.xenophilia.com has revealed the contact information and identity of the bloggers, despite the fact that such information is not protected when the bloggers use the blog for illegible purposes.
I mean, that’s just funny. Can you imagine the law looking askance at blogs used for “illegible purposes”?
And you’ve got to wonder, if it’s illegible, how can it be defamatory?
(By the way, that’s the complaint’s original spelling of “Artvoice.com” as “Arvoice.com.”)
And there’re also other problems, of course, such as, Section 230, which I’m not sure the attorneys understand either.