Commenters Sued for Slander and Libel

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We receive a magazine Texas Lawyer at the firm where I work that had an article that caught my attention this week.

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Topix.com is a news website that specializes in localizing your news and allowing commentary on that news, I have seen the site, and even registered and commented on numerous articles. It is really a great source for local news, and I used it for the purposes of receiving local news and commenting with other locals on it.

The case highlighted in Texas Lawyer however, talks about a lawyer and his wife who were charged with a crime reported on Topix.com in the Collin County, Texas area.

Apparently the article garnered thousands of comments on the website and at least 178 of them were disparaging comments that angered the couple so much that a lawsuit was filed in Tarrant County, Texas for defamation of character and libel. The couple were acquitted of the charges and indicate that their business was damaged financially by the comments placed on Topix.com.

They are seeking the identities of the commenters on Topix.com and recently served Topix with a subpoena demanding the IP addresses of those commenters. Further, they announced the lawsuit on a forum on Topix.com in an attempt to notify those commenters that a lawsuit is pending.

I don’t know about you but I think they just need to put it behind them. Sure they didn’t like the comments, sure they might’ve even been slanderous, but honestly, in the true scope of things, does this matter that much?

According to the couple, business has been picking back up since they were acquitted, he’s not doing so poorly that he had to shut down either of his offices and quite frankly – wouldn’t they want to move on from this and just forget it all? Who’s to say that the slowing of business was due to the comments, maybe it was due to the charges filed?

What do you think about the potential liability on the commenters part? Do you think it’s right that Topix will be forced by this subpoena, to turn over the IP addresses of their registered users?

What do you think about online anonymity? Should it be maintained or should people making slanderous, libelous comments be brought out into the open and punished?

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3 thoughts on “Commenters Sued for Slander and Libel

  1. I think they need to move on from it and count their blessings.

    You said the charges were dropped. I think the reason perhaps their business slumped off for a moment was a divine intervention to let them deal with the charges and not worry about business issue. Thereby not forcing them to have to close their doors permanently.

    Things happen to us for a reason, we are not in a position to always understand why, we are not that divine.

    Debo Hobos last blog post..Stumble-lina Let Me Be Your Wings!

  2. That’s insane, but you know how stubborn lawyers can be. I would be shocked if a judge took that case seriously enough to allow it in the court room. And I thought that the information of the posters was private, meaning NO ONE could get it? Maybe I am wrong…

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