I read an article this week about the dangers of getting sued for comments made while blogging. While this may seem like a remote possibility to those who frequent Facebook and Twitter, this sort of litigation is becoming a very real phenomenon. In the past couple of months I have counseled a client who was sued in another state simply for posting a true comment and a photograph on his website. Conversely, I had another client contact me because of disparaging and untruthful remarks posted about him on an internet message board.
In the first example , most people would immediately think that a case like that would be thrown out of court. While that may be ultimately true , remember the broad range of the internet. Essentially, my client is having to defend an action in a foreign state at great expense. As attorney Miriam Wugmeister said in the Wall Street Journal article I read “Though the likelihood of a plaintiff winning a lawsuit (of this type) is not high, you could go bankrupt just from defending against them.” Just to make matters more complicated, it also appears that the rules of personal jurisdiction as they apply to the internet are changing and expanding, after we thought they were fairly well settled.
There is something about the ease and instantaneousness of posting on the internet which makes it fairly certain that these cases will continue. Remember that the common law principles of defamation are not suspended on the internet, nor are the core principles of trademark law and copyright law.