Defamation against a company often comes with a huge price tag. Experience tells us that if the company defamed is listed on the stock market, defamation on investors’ forums could influence shares prices and the ability of the board to raise investment. There is also evidence…Legal advice defamation against a company.
In a somewhat bizarre case, a couple who posted a review on the notorious American website RipOff Report against a company they felt provided a disappointed service, had been awarded damages by a court in the USA for having received unfair demands by the company to remove their review.
The company sued the couple for an alleged breach of A Non-Disparagement clause, which is a common clause in the USA that restricts individuals from taking any action that negatively impacts an organisation, its reputation, products, services, management or employees.
The court found that this clause was not part of the engagement agreement between the parties at the time of their engagement, which meant that the company had not been justified in taking legal action against the couple.
The Federal court awarded damages of $300,000 (£176,000) without ruling on whether non-disparagement clauses are legal in consumer matters.
In what is believed to be a legal first in Canada — and a potential landmark case that could help to define the limits of free speech in cyberspace — a hotel is suing a former guest for $95,000 in damages over a review he wrote on the travel site TripAdvisor.
It also wants the negative review, which is still online, taken down.
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“How would you like to have me – a qualified internet law solicitor – sitting in your office, waiting, “on call”, to leap to attention and give you my very best internet law advice, answer, or strategy any minute you need it, day or night?”
The problem: how to access important, good quality, up-to-date and free advice on online reputation management of your business when you need it.
The answer: A dedicated Internet Law Google search engine.
Here’s just a tiny sampling of the gems to be found in the dedicated internet law search engine:
1. I am a victim of online defamation – do I need an injunction?
2. What do I need to do to make my business compliant with recent changes in social media?
3. Why some bad reviews appear so high in search results?
2. The reason why I should not click on links to defamatory search results
3. What are the 5 most essential steps I need to follow when I face internet defamation against my business?
4. What are the dangers to my business in obtaining injunctions to stop online defamation?
5. What are the new laws about internet trolling and why are they relevant to my business?
6. Can a business be bullied online?
7. What type of court orders are best to avoid?
8. How can a website still be visible many years after it was deleted and how does this affect the way I should approach internet defamation?
9. How can I reduce the chances of defamation being committed by my employees?
10. What is the first thing that I need to do when an employee steals my customer list?
11. What sort of language and tone is best do use when responding to a derogatory online review?
12. The truth about removing defamatory webpages with SEO.
13. How to go about removing defamatory articles from complaints websites.
14. What is the very first thing I need to do if I find my business listed on a complaint’s website?
15. How do I find out who owns my company’s domain name?
16. What are the essentials of an effective corporate reputation crisis management strategy? – a blue print.
17. The three most important foundations of every cease and desist letter
18. Can Google be sued for displaying defamatory search results?
19. Is it possible for a listed company to sue a shareholder for defamation?
20. Why is it important to obtain disclosure orders against Go daddy from one particular court that is based in Arizona?
21. Is it worth suing a poser of defamation who uses investor’s forums to defame a listed company?
22. What exactly is a Google Bomb and how do I defuse it?
23. How can I tell if I am about to become the victim of an online reputation attack before the attack occurs?
24. What is the best method to respond to a defamation cease and desist letter?
25. What is the relationship between online reputation management and the use of social media?
26. I am a victim of defamation on the internet. Any advice?
27. Is a forum host liable for defamation that is being posted by the users?
28. Chat websites and blackmail – how not to become victim
29. What is the difference between a defamation lawyer and a social media lawyer?
The above is just a small sample of the questions you can ask me at any time, day or night.
A cease and desist letter can easily backfire if it is written without fully understanding the law and the legal liabilities of the parties involved. But more importantly a badly drafted cease and desist letter may have serious consequences in terms of PR, marketing and online reputation management of the organisation.
For example, a cease and desist letter can tremendously damage the reputation and the marketing efforts of a hotel, particularly if the recipient decides to publish the cease and desist letter on the internet.
When writing a cease and desist letter you therefore must choose your language carefully and pay extra attention to the style and to the tone of your letter. You also need to select your vocabulary very carefully and always adhere to principles of good customer care, even if you are threatening with legal action.
Customers who find on the internet a cease and desist letter that was sent by a hotel in response to an unfavourable review, might be reluctant to trust and visit that establishment.
A good ceased desist letter, in addition to the legal requirements that it needs to adhere to, might also include details of the efforts made by the hotel to resolve the issue complained of and it might even offer further good will.
By: Yair Cohen
Read more about writing an effective Cease and Desist Letter.
Google Gets London Muslim Blog Defamation Case Thrown Out but Judges have not ruled out that it can be sued for defamation in the UK.
How UK libel laws undermined Sunday Times in Lance Armstrong article case | Media | guardian.co.uk
I have put together the 5 must know tips that I strongly advise you should follow to help you in this time of crisis. If you follow these steps you will be 5 steps nearer to appropriately dealing with your defamation issue.
1) Be discreet. Try to tell as few people as possible about your internet defamation issue. The link containing the defamatory material will be ranked higher in search engines as a result of the number of people clicking on the link. This is why it is advised to not tell anyone as they may click on the link and make it more popular. This includes… read more steps on our new social media solicitor blog.
A court in Ireland has granted an oil exploration company an order to seek the identity of people who allegedly posted defamatory material on investors’ message boards, causing the oil company to lose £132m of market value.
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Say you’ve been dragged through the mud on the internet. Your reputation is being assaulted with vicious lies, and you don’t even know who’s telling them.
The situation is urgent, but what should you do?
You do a little research but find conflicting advice: Hire an SEO expert! Hire a PR consultant! Talk to someone experienced in e-commerce sales! Get yourself a lawyer!
But whose advice should you follow? And how much is this going to cost you?
Finally, there is a straight answer to these questions !!!
You find the answers in a centre where you can learn, understand and balance all the different issues that affect the management of your organisation’s internet reputation and where you can find case studies, support and plenty of valuable advice on managing your presence on the internet.
Please be my guest at the Internet Law Centre.
Yair Cohen, defamation lawyer
- Internet Defamation. What does a Modern Internet Defamation Lawyer Do? (internetlawexpert.co.uk)
- Internet defamation risk management (defamationlawyer.co.uk)
- Should you respond to defamatory web posts? (defamationlawyer.co.uk)
- Defamation Lawyer on Websites’ Haven (yaircohenuk.com)
- Internet Law Experts: One Very Effective Way to Deal with Defamation on a Complaint Website. (yaircohenuk.com)
- Social Media and Networks Give Rise to Internet Law Specialty (hispanicbusiness.com)
- Online Reputation Attacks by Former Employees: Important Guidance by Defamation Lawyer Yair Cohen (yaircohenuk.com)
Internet Law Experts and defamation lawyer: What Should I Do If I Find My Business Listed On A Complaint Site? By Teresa Meek
Several services claim to help people manage their online reputation. But what do these apps actually do, and do they really live up to their claim? Teresa Meek investigates…
Fionn Downhill runs a digital marketing company; she thought her business was in good standing. Her customers seemed happy, and a Google search of her company produced accurate information and a list of her speaking engagements.
But one day she received an unsolicited email informing her that her company had been listed… Read More on UK Internet Law
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Being a defamation lawyer these days is challenging. I have been solving internet defamation issues both as a defamation lawyer and as a consultant for a good few years now.
Over the years I have noticed that there is a difference between the approach taken by traditional defamation lawyers to the one preferred by modern internet defamation solicitors to solving internet defamation issues. There is no good or bad here but at the same time, from the point of view of the client, the difference is enormous.
To a large degree, traditional defamation law and online defamation law are two different areas of law altogether.
This is why, sometimes, old-fashioned defamation advice in relation to internet defamation, could backfire in the sense that even if the case is won at court, the defamation may still remain and even increase in volume. This can hardly be good news for the defamation victim.
The traditional defamation lawyer’ work is more ‘textbook’ based, which means it follows well established legal principles of defamation law, some of which have become out-dated over the past few years.
Many of the traditional legal tools have hardly evolved over the past 100 years and they are being practiced by traditional defamation solicitors whose knowledge and understanding of the internet world is slightly greater than that of the average person on the street. After all, solicitors normally learn the practical aspects of their work from their supervising solicitor in the law firm and these tend to be very senior lawyers indeed, who might find the internet world a little bit overwhelming.
So what has changed? Why might traditional defamation legal solutions not be compatible with modern online defamation?
It is obvious, isn’t it, that before one attempts to resolve a problem, one must first fully identify and understand the causes of it and if these causes are not deeply understood, then one might find oneself in the place of a patient with a sore eye who goes to receive treatment from the most expensive and highly prestigious brain surgeon in town. With respect, brain surgeons know very little about sore eyes and the last thing you would want the brain surgeon to do, is to open your brain up to try to administer medicine to your sore eye. In such a case, one can expect nothing but general deterioration in one’s health with the original sore eye now constituting the least of one’s problems.
Over the past 100 years or so, the law of defamation has been developed by expert judges over countless court cases, mainly involving newspapers and book publishers. Broadly speaking, the playing teams who developed our defamation laws used to be very well read and highly experienced judges, a small number of newspaper publishing groups and a few highly paid lawyers, largely based in the City of London.
Pick up a text-book on defamation law in England and you will see that the same names of the parties involved in many of the defamation cases are repeated over and over again. The composition of the parties involved in defamation cases used to be almost set in stone and this is why reading a traditional defamation law text-book could feel like a Déjà vu. You read time and time again about the same judges, the same lawyers and the same defendants. It used to be a small world…. Now this has all changed.
When appearing in court on matters of online defamation, the players can hardly recognise one another any longer. As a result of the dramatic increase in defamation cases, the number of Judges who are sitting on such matters has increased. And because of the different nature of the modern online defamation, a new breed of defamation solicitor has started to emerge.
This new breed of online defamation solicitor is very different to the traditional defamation lawyer, who used to almost exclusively occupy the court rooms. The modern online defamation solicitors are highly technically skilled, are incredibly internet savvy and they tend to possess vast knowledge of IT related matters.
Modern online defamation solicitors pay a great deal of attention to the psychological aspects of online defamation. They build psychological profiles of offenders and some of them are even NLP trained, which means they can tailor an individual approach to each act of online defamation by analysing the personalities of the offenders and by then dealing with each and every one of them in a personalised and highly effective manner.
Modern defamation lawyers are increasingly entrepreneurial-like in their approach to solving the problem at hand.
They approach online defamation issues from legal, technical and entrepreneurial angles and their solutions are not necessarily confined to local legal issues but are much more versatile. They tend to focus on obtaining successful results and workable solutions for their clients, who primarily, want their reputational problem to disappear rather than seek damages.
This refreshing approach which is often taken by the modern online defamation solicitors is pretty much in line with the latest technical developments and is reflective of their client’s needs. They understand the fact that winning a defamation case through the courts, may not be sufficient on its own, for their client’s on-going online defamation problems to completely disappear or even not to reoccur soon after the legal battle was won.
This is another reason why modern online defamation solicitors spend so much of their time researching and genuinely trying to understand some of the underlying roots of each specific online defamation issue.
The use of personalisation by modern defamation solicitors, together with their ability to effectively communicate technical issues to their clients, makes it easier for them to find effective solutions to online defamation issues. And because of their deep-rooted understanding of the law as well as of technical matters, they are managing to develop personal relationships with key people in the social medial organisations and within the internet world, relationships which help them to affect the removal of websites, posts and comments with relative ease.
The ability to speak the same language and to effectively communicate with internet service providers is probably the most important asset of a modern online defamation solicitor because the reality is, that it is much cheaper and more cost-effective to facilitate the removal of material off the internet via dialogue than through legal action.
Lastly, many of the defendants who are now involved in online defamation cases are different in nature from their predecessors. In the past, most defendants in defamation law cases were editors of major newspaper titles, whilst currently defendants in online defamation cases are, generally speaking, normal people like your neighbour across the road who possesses very limited legal skills and experience.
They sometimes appear in court in person, without a lawyer to represent them but with a lot of passion instead. The defamation courts now allow litigants in person to even use video links, whenever regular travel to the court room is not practical for them.
Traditionally, the playing field where defamation was created was very small in size. Newspapers, textbooks and letters, mainly published in the UK used to provide the main source of defamation cases. The old players in defamation law cases were therefore acting within some sort of comfort zone, limited both in size and in scope. This allowed the traditional defamation law solicitors to develop expertise within a very limited field of the defamation law.
This has now changed because the scope of defamation law has been widening. An opportunity to defame exists almost everywhere you look: on websites, blogs, forums, social media, emails and other online forums. Furthermore, defamation can now be initiated from anywhere in the world and be transmitted instantly worldwide. Defamation law is no longer a local or a national matter. Very often it involves cross jurisdictional issues which means the modern online defamation solicitor must have a sound knowledge of multi-national laws.
Modern online defamation solicitors spend hours upon hours researching, studying and investigating their playing field and they must, in addition to having a sound understanding of the law, be vested with specific knowledge of how the online world works and operates. They must be able to speak the language, be fluent in the jargon and fully understand the way things work on the internet, as well as the mechanics which cause online defamation to be created and then spread across. And to enable them to keep up with the rapid changes that are occurring on the internet, modern online defamation solicitors must now possess a rare combination of skills, which include legal, analytical and technical and they must maintain these skills constantly afresh.
It is not surprising therefore that some of the old fashion defamation solicitors, who for many years had been successfully scoring time and time again within a ‘Mini Football field’, are finding it difficult now to keep up with this rapidly changing area of law.
Whilst traditional defamation solicitors have almost always enjoyed the benefit of being trained up by their firm’s experienced defamation law partner (hence the reason why lawyers from other, smaller practices have in the past found it difficult to enter this field of law), much of the knowledge and skills of the modern online defamation solicitors have been acquired independently and by sharing experiences with colleagues all over the world.
In other words, internet law and online defamation law are not subjects which are taught at law schools. They can only be mastered by constant usage and by plenty of practical experience.
One of the reasons why many modern defamation solicitors acquire their unique skills independently, is that there was no one around to teach them these skills, because these skills are not traditionally associated with solicitors’ work. They are not listed in legal textbooks and are highly technical. In fact, many of the special skills that effective online defamation solicitors must possess are not necessarily legal skills but are skills which did not really exist up until very recently.
These skills are not written (yet) into textbooks and neither are they taught on legal courses. Knowing your law well is one thing, but understanding the magic that makes pages appear on or disappear off the internet is a completely different matter so it is not surprising at all that some traditional defamation lawyers are finding it a bit difficult to adapt and participate in this new arena.
Goodbye Damages Hello Damage Limitation or The Trophy is not gold-plated any longer
Traditional defamation solicitors are lawyers not IT specialists, not SEO gurus, not detectives and very often not NLP trained. And because one can only teach what one knows, trainee solicitors in some traditional, corporate like law firms might not receive the opportunity to enhance skills which are not strictly speaking, regarded as legal skills.
Training in large law firms is normally confined to the legal matters and legal matters alone. Modern online defamation solicitors, on the other hand, have always enjoyed the freedom to learn, to study and to pursue knowledge, without the constraints that sometimes exist within old-fashioned law firms, whose focus tends to be directed more on the production of billable hours almost from day one.
This is why modern internet defamation lawyers can offer their clients much more than traditional thinking and traditional legal genius. They possess skills, which are not normally associated with traditional corporate-like, old-fashioned defamation solicitors. And furthermore, it is important to note that most victims of online defamation, regardless of the size of their organisations, are looking for an online defamation solicitor with technical, psychological, investigative and inter personal skills in addition to the traditional legal abilities.
Wining a defamation case for a client is without a doubt considered to be the ultimate result for most defamation solicitors. This is one of the reasons why highly expensive and emotionally charged legal proceedings on behalf of lucrative clients, have been the bread and butter of some of the old-fashioned defamation law firms. But this has now also changed.
Many victims of internet defamation are now measuring success by using a different formula altogether.
Because of the immediate and potentially disastrous consequences of online defamation to their businesses, (regardless of size), victims of online defamation, tend to measure success in relation to the speed by which their business can be brought back to normal operation.
Most victims of online defamation have little or no time at all for highly expensive and everlasting defamation trials. By the time their defamation trial comes to an end, there might be nothing left of their business reputation. It is no longer about damages: it is now about damage limitation.
Court actions for defamation could constitute a serious distraction for the entrepreneur who invariably understands that a lawyer, with even the greatest possible advocacy skills, cannot bring him his business reputation back following a successful defamation trial. Court actions for defamation are considered by most entrepreneurs as ‘last resort’ options.
This is why modern internet defamation solicitors tend to commit their various special skills to help solving their client’s immediate online defamation issues, whenever possible, outside the court room and it is now clear that what many victims of online defamation consider to be a good result is not only the fast disappearance of defamatory comments from the internet, but also the learning which follows from a successfully defeated online reputation attack and the help and support which they receive from their internet lawyer, which helps them build up new systems and processes to prevent or at least minimise future online reputation attacks on their business.
Written by: Yair Cohen
- €6,550 for lawyer defamed in letter (independent.ie)
- Internet Law Experts: One Very Effective Way to Deal with Defamation on a Complaint Website. (yaircohenuk.com)
- Restaurant owner found guily of defaming customer (Canada) (internetdefamation.co.uk)