Internet Defamation Removal Attorneys

Internet Defamation Removal Attorneys

A Blog Focused on Strategies for Deleting Damaging Online Content

Online Copyright Infringement and the DMCA Subpoena

Posted in Other Internet Law Issues

Ordinarily, serving a subpoena to identify an anonymous person on the internet requires first filing a lawsuit. In fact, we have published several posts about using subpoenas to identify unknown authors of internet defamation and have explained that the first step in the process is filing a complaint against the unknown poster.

DMCA Subpoena for Alleged Copyright InfringementThere is, however, a procedure pertaining to copyright law, in which an alleged infringer can potentially be identified without the filing of a lawsuit and without a judge’s signature: the DMCA subpoena.

Digital Millennium Copyright

The DMCA—short for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act—is a statutory mechanism (17 U.S.C. § 512) that copyright holders can use to notify online service providers of alleged copyright infringement.

The DMCA offers “safe harbors,” limiting the liability of service providers for third parties’ copyright infringement if they remove or disable access to copyright infringement in response to DMCA takedown notices.

Service providers (defined by § 512(k)(1)) include a number of different types of entities. The elements of a proper DMCA notification are listed at §512(c)(3), and they are also spelled out in various entities’ legal/copyright policy sections (such as on the websites Ripoff Report and Glassdoor).

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Internet Defamation Removal Attorneys Blog Featured in Recent LXBN Story

Posted in Defamation Removal, Internet Defamation General

On April 9, 2014, we launched the Internet Defamation Removal Attorneys blog with the objective of serving as a go-to source for information and resources related to stopping internet defamation and getting disparaging content removed from the internet. 

Internet Defamation Removal AttorneysMore than two years and 130-plus blog posts later, we feel that we have met that goal, and we will continue to regularly publish content about recent cases and strategies for removing defamation from Google and various websites.

Our blog is powered by LexBlog, “the largest professional blog network,” which operates LXBN.  A few weeks ago, we had the privilege of being interviewed by LXBN’s editor, Zosha Millman, for an article about all things Internet Defamation Removal Attorneys blog.

For those who might be interested in Zosha’s article, we wanted to pass along a link to that story: “LexBlog Leaders: Vorys’ Internet Defamation Attorneys Build Out a Niche and a Practice.”  We also wanted to use this as an opportunity to thank our readers, including our subscribers.

About a year ago, our blog ranked No. 18 in site traffic volume out of nearly 1,000 blogs published by Am Law 200 firms, according to LexBlog’s “Am Law 200 Blog Benchmark Report 2015.”  We hope to continue to publish fresh content that both interests our readers (whether longtime subscribers or those who randomly stumble upon one of our articles) and also serves as a helpful resource for businesses and professionals concerned with potential internet defamation and related issues.

Devanney to Lead “How to Remove Defamation, Negative Reviews, and Other Damaging Content from the Internet” Webinar

Posted in Defamation Removal, Webinars

Colleen Devanney, who heads up Vorys’ internet defamation practice, is leading an upcoming online webinar presentation on defamation removal on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 at 3:00 ET.

Internet Defamation Attorney Colleen DevanneyThe webinar—entitled “How to Remove Defamation, Negative Reviews, and Other Damaging Content from the Internet”–will run approximately 75 minutes. A full course description and registration information for the webinar can be found on the Clear Law Institute website.

This Clear Law Institute-hosted webinar will feature more than an hour’s worth of discussion on strategies for removing harmful content from the internet, plus Devanney will lead a Q&A session at the completion of her presentation.

The webinar is intended primarily for attorneys. Information about CLE credit is also available on the hyperlinked webpage.

How to Stop (and Remove) Online Impersonations on Social Media, Other Websites

Posted in Cyberbullying, Facebook, Google, Other Internet Law Issues, Twitter, YouTube

There are many ways in which professionals and companies are being harmed online and on social media. One increasingly common form of online harassment is impersonation of the person (or company) that the harasser is intending to harm through the creation of fake public personas on social media platforms or websites. Remove impersonating accounts from social media

Impersonations, or impostor accounts as they are known on Facebook, are generally prohibited by the major online and social media players like Google, Twitter and Facebook.

Unlike with standard internet defamation, removal of online impersonations can generally be accomplished without a court order.

Google+

Despite its relative lack of success, impersonations are fairly common on Google+. This includes people creating impersonating accounts in order to publish false Google reviews, or alternatively to start a blog (through Google’s blog-publishing service, Blogger) about or in the name of the person being targeted.

Google+’s User Conduct and Content Policy prohibits impersonations, specifically the use of Google+ “to mislead or confuse users by pretending to be someone else or pretending to represent an organization you do not represent.”  Thus, in response to a legitimate impersonation report about a Google+ account that is deceiving other users as to the user’s true identity, Google is typically willing to suspend the offending Google+ account.

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False, Negative Online Reviews Challenge Health Care Professionals and Health Care Providers

Posted in False Reviews, Health Care / Physicians, Internet Defamation General, Other Internet Law Issues, Review Websites

Online reviews affect nearly every industry, and health care is certainly one of them. What differentiates health care from other industries when it comes to online reviews is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA.

Health Care Defamation Online

Under HIPAA, a federal privacy law, health care professionals and providers are not allowed to disclose certain health information about patients without their authorization. This restriction has proven to be a challenge for many health care professionals and providers when it comes to addressing online reviews.

In fact, HIPAA has many in the health care industry feeling as though they have their hands tied behind their backs when it comes to dealing with negative and potentially defamatory online reviews.

In an interview with BuzzFeed for a 2014 feature on this very issue, one California neurosurgeon (who was the subject of an online harassment campaign himself) stated that there was no way in 1996 that HIPAA could have anticipated online reviews and the resulting issues.

Responding publicly to false online reviews is risky

Many websites today suggest that business owners or others affected by online reviews simply respond and share their sides of the stories. Ripoff Report, for example, makes the following suggestions to the subjects of consumer complaints:

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Order Requiring Non-Party Yelp to Remove Defamatory Reviews Affirmed by California Appellate Court

Posted in Cases & Court Decisions, Communications Decency Act, Defamation Removal, Yelp

A California appellate court recently affirmed a lower court’s decision to require Yelp to remove three defamatory reviews. The First Appellate District did, however, remand the case to the trial court to narrow the terms of the removal order, which ordered Yelp to also remove potential future reviews.

Yelp Ordered to Remove Defamatory ReviewsDespite the court determining that the removal order was an overbroad prior restraint on speech, the June 7, 2016 decision was seen as a major loss for Yelp and a blow to the protections provided to websites by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA).

Background

Dawn Hassell is the managing attorney of the Hassell Law Group, a California personal injury firm. Hassell and her firm represented Ava Bird during the summer of 2012.

However, after 25 days, Hassell withdrew from representation and, in January 2013, Bird published a negative—and allegedly false—review about her experiences with Hassell and her firm.

Hassell attempted to speak with Bird about the Yelp review. After Hassell’s call went unreturned, her office sent Bird an email requesting that she remove the “factual inaccuracies and defamatory remarks” from Yelp.

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Removing Defamatory Statements From the Internet Using a Court Order

Posted in Defamation Removal, Google, Internet Defamation General

For businesses and professionals defamed on the internet, most simply want the false content removed. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to obtain removal, one of which is through a court order.

Court Order re: False and Defamatory StatementsWebsites and other entities do not want to be tasked with having to weigh the facts of any situation and making a judgment call. Therefore, most will not delete content just because a party alleges a post is false.

Most websites will, however, remove content declared false by a court, even though court orders are typically against the actual posters of the content and not the websites themselves.

In short, court ordered removal involves obtaining a judgment against the poster of defamatory content online and then presenting the court order to the websites (or, when relevant, Google) on which the false content is appearing.

Of course, obtaining a court order involves filing an actual lawsuit with legitimate claims and pursuing the authors of the harmful content. When a defendant is known (or can be identified and later named as a defendant), the parties might settle and each sign an agreed order, which can be presented to the court to grant the requested judgment.

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Utilizing IP Addresses to Subpoena Internet Service Providers (ISPs)

Posted in Identify Anonymous Defamers, Internet Defamation General

The majority of online defamation is posted anonymously or pseudonymously, and many cases require issuing subpoenas—including to internet service providers (ISPs)—to identify the unknown posters.

Subpoena to Internet Service Provider

As discussed below, this process often involves obtaining internet protocol (IP) addresses from an entity, in response to a subpoena; determining the ISPs that own the respective IP addresses produced by the subpoenaed entity;  and then issuing additional subpoenas to those ISPs.

Subpoena process generally

Individuals looking to attack others on the internet almost never use their real names or email addresses. In most cases, harmed parties cannot immediately identify the online posters with certainty, even if they have suspicions of the posters’ identities.

Therefore, to pursue legal claims against a presently unknown poster, it might be necessary for a defamed party to issue a subpoena to the relevant website (or its parent company) for documents containing certain identifying information like basic contact information and IP addresses – subject, of course, to the information that the posters actually provided to the website upon registering an account with the websites.

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Best Practices, Worst Practices for Responding to Internet Defamation

Posted in Communications Decency Act, Defamation Removal, Internet Defamation General

There are a number of ways in which one can respond to internet defamation. There are also a number of ways not to respond.

Options for Responding to Internet LibelBelow is an overview of some different response options that affected parties should and should not consider.

How not to respond to online defamation

We have said repeatedly on our blog that solutions are fact-dependent. But there are several potential responses that companies and professionals (and their attorneys) should generally avoid.

For example, alleged victims of internet defamation must neither attempt to sue websites (or their parent companies) for third party users’ postings, nor threaten to file a lawsuit without an adequate legal basis.

Under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA), most websites today are shielded from liability content published by third party users of the websites.

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Removal Often the Best Solution for Online Defamation

Posted in Defamation Removal, Internet Defamation General

For businesses forced to deal with internet defamation, in our experience removal of the harmful content is generally the best solution.

Online defamation/libel removalSolutions are fact-dependent.  However, the longer false content remains online and can be seen by potential customers or clients, among others, the more damage it is likely to cause to a business.

Thus, to the extent possible, businesses should work to get false and defamatory content about them removed from the internet quickly, or potentially risk being indefinitely harmed.

Top search results akin to “storefronts”

For many businesses today, the search engine results pages (SERPs) pertaining to them—particularly each business’s first page on Google—are similar to brick-and-mortar storefronts.

In recent years, the first point of contact for many people with a company has been its first page of Google search results.  In other words, many consumers go online to conduct research about unfamiliar businesses and, therefore, first impressions of many businesses are often formed based on what people find atop the search rankings.

Positive and neutral results are obviously good, but negative results—in particular false content—can drive away large numbers of potential customers, not to mention possible employees or investors, among other parties.

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