Thursday, September 07, 2006

To Court

I walked into Info Privacy on Tuesday and my professor says to the 20-odd group of us, "Okay, everybody get your stuff, we're going to the California Supreme Court to watch this defamation case." So we piled into cars and went down there and sat in the overflow room to watch the oral arguments. (The overflow room was awesome. Stadium seating, giant screen, surround sound.)

I couldn't believe how much like moot court it was. Even that ridiculous, "May it please the court, my name is...." The defense attorneys were representing the ACLU and the EFF, basically saying that just because this woman reposted an allegedly defamatory email on a blog, that didn't mean she should be included in the suit. The attorneys were clearly experienced, but their voices were still shaking. The judges tossed them softballs with questions about internet freedom and the ability of the plaintiff to find relief by suing the original defamer.

The defense attorney had this unappealing attitude. His voice didn't shake but he had this obnoxious tone of voice. The minute he got up there, they started pounding him with questions: exactly like they did in moot court. But he clearly didn't remember the number one rule from moot court: Never, EVER, interrupt a judge. (One judge interrupted him, after he interrupted her, and said, "Sorry to interrupt you, but I would ask that you let me finish my question.") I wish we could have gone to something like that before we did moot court, so we'd see how legit it was.

To conclude, I think that clearly the republisher of the defamatory email will get off. Apparently the Fed Cts have all taken the stance that you can't get in trouble for republishing if you don't change the substance of the content.


barce said...

This was a very interesting post. It's cool to read about what happens in courts and to see someone's take on it.

So, where can I get info about what might happen if something defamatory is slightly altered?

I'm thinking of starting a website that allows drivers to post about their good or bad driving experiences. Sometimes that might entail a user posting a license plate, or a description of a very unique car.

Supra said...

Interesting article about bloggers liability issues: