Olympic champ's mom sues Google for dead blogger's post
Good luck with that
The mother of US Olympic speedskating phenomenon Shani Davis is suing Google for refusing to remove a posting to its Blogspot site that was made by a user who has since died.
It's questionable how far the lawsuit, filed last week in Illinois state court on behalf of Cherie Davis, is likely to get. Legal scholars say the Communications Decency Act (CDA) immunizes web hosting companies for postings made by their users. In theory, aggrieved parties are supposed to go after the people who actually penned the content, something that isn't possible in this case, since the blogger, Sean Healy, died of cancer a year after publishing the article in question.
Headlined Memo to Cherie Davis, the item alleges the speedskater's mother made disparaging comments about the views of the US Speedskating Federation. Cherie Davis made no statements of the kind, her lawyer, Kurt Kolar, insists, and because Healy is no longer around to atone for the alleged defamation, it is left to Google to make things right.
"The blog is dormant and no one really has any interest in keeping that up there," Kolar told The Register. "The purpose of the suit is to not squelch speech so to speak, but to get a defamatory statement removed from the internet via the party that is most able to do so."
The Blogspot item is especially egregious because it pops up first in Google searches querying Cherie Davis's name, Kolar said.
Perhaps, but it will be interesting to see how far the suit gets. As already pointed out, there's this thing called the CDA that most lawyers agree pretty much gives Google a green light to proceed as it has so far, which is to steadfastly refuse to remove allegedly defamatory content.
What's more, Cherie Davis has taken no action against Australian newspaper The Age, which was the source of the allegedly defaming statements. Depending on the day, that article, which cites several emails Cherie Davis allegedly sent, appears about dozen results from the top.
Not that the suit is hopeless. Kolar's ace in the hole may be winning a court order declaring the posting is, in fact, defamatory. While Google refuses to remove allegedly libelous content, "the only exception to this rule is if the material has been found to be defamatory by a court, as evidenced by a court order," Google says. ®
It´s not that bad
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Memo To Cherie Davis
Dear Ms. Davis,
Listen, I hear you have gone on record as calling members of the speedskating federation "KKK", "white supremacist" and "neo-Nazi genetic mutation". And I hear you have taken to vigorously contacting members of said speedskating community as well as members of the media to tell them to never comment on your son, Shani. And I hear you take much joy in seeing people from other countries jeer Shani's American teammates.
And I hear you have taken to donning the colors and logos of the Dutch, which is fine and all as Holland has always seemed like a peaceful place and pot-smoking and prostitution are legal there, which is A-OK with yours truly. To be honest, I think you picked a fine country to fall in favor with.
Thing is, you did so while your son was racing for the United States. Yes, the same country that, despite your repeated claims of racism, saw the rise of your son from inner city kid on roller skates to Olympic champion on ice. Yeah, that country. I've never been the most gung-ho yahoo when it comes to undying patriotism and all that jazz myself, so I can sympathize with you a bit, but let's keep an eye on the big picture here.
Anyway, let me get to my point: Next time you want to scream and shout about the racism and hate you seemingly perceive all around you, I want you to stop, take a deep breath, and consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe, the reason some folks may not be big fans of you or your son is because you're a petulant, ill-willed, flame war-starting psycho bitch and have gone out of your way to create the animosity you perceive to be aimed in your direction. Somehow I think that if you let down your walls of hate every once in a while, the sun might actually come out and the world wouldn't be such a big, bad awful place that is out to get you and Shani. The past week could have been one of great joy for you, your son, your country, and a whole bunch of potential fans, but you seemingly decided against allowing anything of the sort a long time ago. That was your choice. Nobody else's.
If you treat others like shit, expect the same in return. If you ask to be disliked, then expect to be disliked.
The Unknown Column
I'd never heard of this woman or her son, but thanks to her lawsuit I am now of the view that she probably is "a petulant, ill-willed, flame war-starting psycho bitch". So that's worked well I think.
It's remarkable to think that one's blog posts are potentially heritable; should wills include a section passing on passwords for online services?
"I have to agree with both sides here, if the post is defamatory, the plaintiff has no choice but to go after Google in the absence of the blogger"
True, but as Dan pointed out in the article, the blogger is referring to an unchallenged news report:
Jacob Lipman has defined libel quite well - I think it's clear that the blogger made his comments on a source that he validly assumed to be true. I'm sure there are plenty of bloggers that have commented on facts that were later turned out to be erroneous. I imagine he was one step away from complete immunity - referencing the source article and leaving it for them to correct.
For a 3+ year old blog that very few people would have seen, it's strikes me as a very silly way to get your name up in lights... She doesn't appear to have a problem with theage's article, but does take issue with someone getting indignant about it ?