Tuesday, 21 January 2014

America's first Twitter libel case

Lawyers have warned that the first libel case involving Twitter to hit the courtrooms of the US could set a social media precedent for defamation. The Drum reports here:
"It centres on a case in which actress and musician Courtney Love was accused of defaming her own former lawyer [Rhonda Holmes] in a tweet posted back in 2010. Speaking to On The Media American lawyer Ellyn Angelotti said: 
“Courtney Love said in a tweet ‘I was f@cking devastated when Rhonda J. Homes Esq of San Diego was bought off...’ “So she was angry that her attorney would not represent her in a fraud case she wanted to bring against the people who were managing the estate of her late husband Kurt Cobain. 
The law around defamation is very ambiguous in regard to social media, we’re seeing all of these people say horrible things about one another online and treating Twitter like the Wild, Wild West because the courts don’t understand the technology well enough to regulate it.”
The judge dismissing Courtney Love's claims that the tweet should be read in context of the internet as her and the judge ruled that the case should go to jury trial. A guilty verdict could have serious implications for all Twitters users regarding defamation laws. The opening statements began and Courtney Love took to the dock, the Daily Mail reports here.

Rhonda Holmes’ attorney Mitchell Langberg said:
"The jury’s really going to have to decide if there’s anything special about Twitter. When you make false statements a fact about someone that hurt their reputation, are you responsible for them, just like you would be anyplace else?"
Attorney Brian Claypool here told ABC News:
"The Courtney Love Twitter lawsuit is monumental because the judge has now determined that tweeting in California can potentially give rise to liability under the theory of defamation. The Courtney Love case will set a precedent that will result in, potentially, the average person being liable as well."

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