Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Catch-22 in the Social Media Age

Earlier this week a prominent client of mine asked me what I can do to stop a local blogger from constantly writing about my client’s personal activities and linking to my client’s company’s website. I explained the available options and discussed with him why it may be best to ignore the blogger. I mentioned the Jones Day v. Blockshopper.com case that was settled last year where a large law firm, Jones Day, filed suit against an internet company that listed the real estate purchases of some of the law firm’s employees and then linked to the employee’s law firm biographies. This case was settled out of court and the bottom line is that Blockshopper.com is still able to link public land records to the web biographies of Jones Day employees.

I told my client something I’m sure many are taught in elementary school, to ignore the bully, and eventually, the bully will go away. My client was told not to do what Jerry Seinfeld did to Kathy Griffin’s character Sally Weaver in the January 1998 Seinfeld episode “The Cartoon.” In the social media age, if a cease and desist letter is sent to a blogger, assuming the blogger can be identified, it will just provide the blogger more ammunition and will most likely increase traffic to the blog. Most of my clients are Type-A personalities and it goes against their make-up to ignore this type of situation. In general, the 1st Amendment protects most forms of speech. Therefore, in many of these situations it is be best not to legitimize the offending blog’s comments by providing a response. To learn more about these issues you may contact me at www.shearlaw.com.

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