But I Tell You, Resist A Censor. If Anyone SLAPPs You, SLAPP Back.

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18 Responses

  1. Charles says:

    The idea that internet publication is permanent should be a non-starter, legally. The New York Times archives are permanent as are the old musty copies of the New York Times bound in a library's collections. How is a blog MORE permanent?

  2. Dan Irving says:

    Some of the Google Reviews are frickin hilarious.

  3. Demosthenes says:

    Charles — I don't know if I have a good answer to your question, but something tells me the church has a point here (and only here).

    A blog post is freely and permanently available, just so long as the blog isn't deleted. Even after it's down, the information can still be accessed if a search engine or a web surfer got a screenshot. And unlike many older articles in a traditional newspaper (even these days, when archives are online), it can be found by search engines and random passersby in perpetuity.

    None of that is a legal argument, of course…I'm not a lawyer. And Ken has a point that interpreting the law that way would provide a plaintiff several potentially unfair advantages — which might have a chilling effect on speech. This might even be an area where we just have to admit we need new legislation to clarify what publishing online means. It's a pity that the issue couldn't have come up in a more worthy case, since this one looks like an easy dismissal to me.

  4. Scott Jacobs says:

    claims that the defendants said things like "You will be fine at this church if you never question the elders or pastor"

    The pastor seems determined to prove this statement true by any means necessary…

  5. Josh says:

    Scott-

    Isn't irony wonderful? Especially when the people doing it are too myopic to realize it?

  6. Robert Hewes says:

    I was thrilled to see that my fair state (FL) has an anti-slapp law. Then I read it and was very, very sad. For those interested, there's a good list at the First Amendment Center
    http://archive.firstamendmentcenter.org/about.aspx?id=13565

  7. Bob says:

    I'm lazy.. one of the links in here says the defendant accused the pastor of child abuse, and of allowing a child sex offender unsupervised access to the children at the church. Surely those statements are "factual" and in the lawsuit?

  8. Patrick says:

    Demosthenes, it seems your concern is premised on the ease of finding a blog post, rather than the idea that each new access of a blog post is a new publication, the minister's argument.

    Granted that the internet makes finding information easier, but otherwise how is it different? I can find a defamatory book published twenty years ago in a library. Other than that I had to drive to the library and use its card catalog (i.e. it wasn't easy), how is website publication any different from paper?

  9. Scott Jacobs says:

    Wow… The section at the link provided by Robert lists Illinois, but it looks like it's just a statement by the worthless legislature…

    Time to dig for the actual statue for Illinois…

  10. Ken says:

    The Illinois statute sucks.

  11. Scott Jacobs says:

    Yeah… That's what it is looking like.

    That is… Unfortunate…

  12. Joe says:

    Roberts list doesn’t include Texas either, so it must be dated. In Texas sometimes we’re a little slow on the draw but looks like we’ve got a decent beast of an anti-SLAPP.

    It basically states that on top of the fees and costs, the court "shall" award the defendant damages "sufficient to deter the party who brought the legal action from bringing similar actions." It's not optional – the judge has to give some sort of punitive damage award but the discretion lies in the size of the damages and it will be interesting to see if any judges actually impose big fines.

    In Texas we don’t mess around – if you get SLAPPed once in Texas it looks like you might get SLAPPed hard enough that you won’t be standing up long enough to get SLAPPed again.

  13. Demosthenes says:

    Patrick: You have an excellent point. It is clear to me now that I had a misconception of what a "continuing publication" meant, and let that drive my thought process. Consider my concerns withdrawn.

  14. Cathy says:

    I'm not sure if there's been a case in Oregon, but other states have extended the single publication rule to the Internet. See the case(s) discussed here (http://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2009/02/republishing_so.htm) and here (http://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2011/06/another_ripoff.htm).

  15. nlp says:

    As one of the eleventy billion, I'm glad to know that the defendants have a good lawyer who knows what to do in such cases. I hate bullies, no matter how they try to hide behind the frosting.

  16. Ken says:

    That's not frosting.

  17. Stephen says:

    From the church's rebuttal filing:

    "Does a small church in Beaverton, Oregon command or attract the interest of a substantial portion of the public on a nation-wide or world-wide basis?"

    Heh.

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