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Hi,.

I own a forum and recently a group of people joined the site. These people are talking about a local company who "ripped" them off. I don't know if their statements are true or not but I would like to keep them on if they are true. The company will remain unnamed but I even have heard some bad things about them. Recently the company contacted me and said the following: Do they have the right to pursue further legal action? I don't want to get in any legal problems but I want people to be able to have the freedom of speech.

Thanks in advance...

Comments (24)

It all depends on what your disclaimers are upon joining.

Example: All posts are opinions and views of the writter , Therefore the owners, staff ect cannot be held liable ect ect ect.

I have some huge and very contraversial forums and see those types of letters everyday, As soon as the disclaimers are pointed out thier lawyers no longer contact.

The above is only my opinion, please do not consider it legal advice..

Comment #1

Yeah, I have the forum rules, which say the posts are neither my sites opinion and I cannot be held responsible or vBulletin for what people post...

Comment #2

If people are posting opinions or statements based on experiences they claim to have had with the company, and you have no reason to suspect those claims are false, than you really have no responsibility whatsoever. Someone can say whatever they want as long as it's an opinion, or is true... Doesn't matter how negative it may be. And since you cant verify every statement posted on your forums, the responsibility has to lie with the original posters...

Comment #3

You are not obligated to remove the posts imho.

I would respond by saying you would require a court order to hand over any information you held concerning the privacy of your posters and that you have no plans to remove the content unless ordered by a court to do so...

Comment #4

I find this request rather outrageous and IMO you are not in any kind of civil danger. I just finished reading the latest issue of the Consumer Reports magazine and they right out trash products and services offered by industry giants. Theres no way anyone can touch them. The last time I checked, free speech was still in effect. If anything, I would reply with a letter threatening a harassment lawsuit. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and it does not always have to be positive.

Recently, the New York City major, Bloomberg, registered a bunch of domains such as bloombergsucks.com etc,,, in order not to have to deal with them in case someone else does it. Why dont you offer to sell them the forum, so they can delete the messages themselves (Although, from a legal perspective, that might be a bit shaky, so check with a lawyer first)..

Comment #5

I agree with the consensus of the rest of the responses here. You have done nothing wrong and you are not liable for what your users say about someones service.

What you could do is invite the company to give their side of events to at least have both sides of the story on your forum (even if they just provide you with a press release style letter)...

Comment #6

I just wanted to update the thread. I've been trying to find a lawyer for Internet law but I haven't had much success.

Anyways I tried allowing the company to give their story and I received another email saying I have 48 hours to remove the post or they will pursue the action and then after will try to get money from me for the business they lost.

At the moment I have removed the posts because I do not want to lose any money.

Does anyone know of a internet law specialist in Canada?.

Thank you...

Comment #7

So everyone here telling you not to remove the content is meaningless. Their strong-arming you has worked. Sad...

Comment #8

Yes, it has for now. The site makes maybe $0.50 a day, I do not think that will cover the fees I would have to pay if I am in the wrong. The thread has been stored in a forum that no one can access but I need to get legal advice first before I can re-store it. This company makes sales in the $20,000.00 range daily, so I do not want to be playing around with them.

The posts of the other members are not meaningless but if it comes down to it in court and I say "Well the NamePros members said I should be fine" will not help me win a case...

Comment #9

Although this lawyer specializes in domain disputes, it probably won't hurt to.

Ask him for suggestions...

Comment #10

Disclaimer or no disclaimer, you need to run this by an attorney. There are sticky legal issues here that could become expensive to defend if it would come to that...

Comment #11

I think you have a similar scenario that happened somewhere in Asia.

In the Philippines, there is a famous blogger who also manage his own hosting company. He has a client that runs a forum website. Then one or two of the visitors of that forum made derogatory or negative remarks of a certain company. That certain company sued the webhosting operator for libel or something similar, again it's the webhost, not the forum owner.

In the end that webhosting site won the case, but he lost substantial amount of money and lost peace of mind.

My opinion is order your forum members to stop making such comments. But that's me...

Comment #12

That's crazy - what about sites like ripoffreport.com my3cents.com etc ?

I'd look up their company name in google and see if there are complaints on other forums..

I remember YEARS ago when rick Schwartz registered some 'suck' domains - like carnivalsucks.com and montecarlosucks.com - not that long ago I checked and there was a site on the montecarlo one - it's parked page now. I wish I could remember if there was any bruhaha over it at that time.

I believe you can post opinions and experiences. What are editorials in newspapers if not that? It's common sense..

People know if they push the 'lawyer' button - you'll roll over. I've done it before too. It's just easier...

Comment #13

Interesting thread... I really hope you dont have trouble kjmz.

Let me start saying I am not a lawyer.

If he asks members of his forum to stop such comments there wont be free speech... and if these people are telling the true?.

Hey jberryhill could you enlighten this for us, please?..

Comment #14

You do understand that the guy who runs that site is the subject of numerous lawsuits, and there is a reward being offered by one plaintiff for his current whereabouts, yes? The OP is in Canada.

As far as the US is concerned, there have been numerous lawsuits over the last several years involving the issue of host liability for defamatory user-generated content. It's not an issue for which I track the various zigs, zags, and conflicting outcomes.

As a general principle, under the right circumstances you can be held liable for "re-publication" of someone else's defamatory speech. In just what "circumstances" a forum host will or will not be held liable for postings in the forum has been, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, a hotly contested issue.

It is a certainty, in my mind anyway, that the private operator of an internet forum is not required to extend any "right" of "free speech" to the participants of the forum. I can kick you out of my living room if I don't care for what you have to say.

Also in general, defamation cases are more easily made out in UK Commonwealth countries, such as Canada, than in the US.

I do react very strongly to comments such as this one: Freedom of Speech is an individual right to speak. It does not impose an obligation on anyone else to provide you with a microphone, or to listen to you. If I run a forum, you do not have right to make me accept or publish anything that you have to say...

Comment #15

How can you be sure that the members posting negative comments are genuine, and not this companies competitors?.

Surely there is some strong disclaimer for the forum owner. Just think of all the stuff written on here the past few weeks about Sedo!..

Comment #16

Quite perceptive - and one of the "circumstances" which I mentioned above...

Comment #17

Whoa... I had no idea... why? what did he do? or what is that site doing so wrong? But at the same token don't I have the right to say I think Johnberryhill gives bad advice or is a bad lawyer or a scammer because of my X,Y,& Z dealings with him and post it here in Namepros under the warnings section. Now Namepros does not have to give me a microphone and they can delete that post, However, Namepros owns this living room and can allow whomsoever they want to sit on their couch for tea. No? Is it not a two way street? If I give my opinion and say something negative about you on this forum, It is possible depending on certain "circumstances" that Namepros can be held to account for it, If you decide to take some type of action?..

Comment #18

I understand the OPs reaction to remove all posts from public access, since it's never a fun situation to dance with an 800lbs gorilla that can easily squash you if he feels like it. There's only a small reward to keeping these posts alive, one of these would be the upkeep of integrity to his own mission, his forum users and the will to fight "the bully". Not many people are willing to risk alot for someone else's opinion.

However, I wouldn't just walk away like that, i'd check with: http://www.ccbbb.ca/ and see what they have on file about the company in question and also verify whether the information published through the http://www.ccbbb.ca/ can be linked to or used on your forum to address the recent performance, behavior and conduct of the company. If they still have a problem with that, they're welcome to sue whoever is behind the CCBBB for removal of any complaint against them. I'm relatively certain that they will quickly find out that they're running against a stone wall ....

Simultaneously, as the OP, i'd make perfectly clear why I felt that I had to remove the posts from my forum and since they sent you a letter that's now in your possession, thus your property, I'd publish the letter in the forum. I don't believe that this letter contains confidential information that cannot be published in the OPs own interest.

All the above.

IB..

Comment #19

Thanks for explaining things...

For us it is said many times "the right of free speech..." and we are not lawyers.

Jasdon's post was very nice as they can really be competitors..

Comment #20

Just a note. As far as I am aware freedom of speech does not give someone the right to slander another either. If you slander someone they can sue and providing they prove that you knowingly lied they will win regardless of how loudly you shout about your right of freedom of speech...

Comment #21

Money, yes. Peace of mind, only temporarily.

Your right is only as good as your ability to enforce it, especially on someone.

Who doesn't have to do anything for you and is doing something you dislike...

Comment #22

I didn't even notice how big the thread got I seen Dave Zan's and I thought it was one of his previous ones. Thanks everyone for pitching in, it really gives me an idea of the different views of this.

I have contacted a lawyer about this and I they are looking through everything. They are going to report back to me.

I'm going to be straight forward about the company. Where I live they have a horrible reputation and in the BBB of my province there have been many complaints against them. Even in the Court Registry there have been many cases. I am 90% positive that these comments real since there are so many people posting and interested (checked I.P.'s to make sure they weren't the same people.) These people that are posting found my site and started posting on it since another forum took off the messages they posted because of threats by the owner. That is one main reason I took them off because the other forum was a pretty big company.

I have been to the companies location once because of personal interest and there tactics are horrible. It is a poorly run place and I would like people to be able to know about the company but my own well being has to be my first priority.

I personally would of liked to keep the thread but at the moment I am in university and anything this could potentially interfere with my university. Even if the lawyer tells me I am in the clear, it would not stop the company from filing anything against me, I am pretty sure. I would still have to go through the phase of the case, which would take some time away...

Comment #23

Only thing you have to worry about is libel and they're not doing that...

Comment #24


This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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