Defamation

Last month, we wrote about another in the increasingly long list of Facebook creation story-related lawsuits. The plaintiff in that story was Aaron Greenspan, a college classmate of Mark Zuckerberg. While Greenspan was in school, he created a similar social network to what eventually became Facebook.

Greenspan alleges that he was unfairly omitted from The Social Network, the 2011 film purportedly telling the history of Facebook. Greenspan felt so jilted at being left out of the movie that he sued the company that published The Accidental Billionaires, on which the hit movie was based (affiliate links).

As of of our last story, Greenspan’s suit alleging “defamation by omission” had just been dismissed by a Massachusetts federal judge.

But he appealed the decision to the First Circuit. Over the weekend, he also emailed us, and gave us more detail about his story. Let’s check in and hear what he has to say, along with a colorful deposition story from the old ConnectU case. There’s more than meets the eye to this tenacious programmer turned Facebook nemesis…

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An unfortunate reality of the modern era seems to be that if you stick around creating online content long enough — doesn’t matter what it is — eventually, someone will decide to sue you. It makes no difference if you are a legal blogger or the creator of hilariously nerdy web comics.

Our inbox has been exploding the last few days with tips about The Oatmeal, a popular web comic, facing what appears to be a pretty absurd defamation lawsuit. The lawsuit in and of itself looks fairly spurious, but the best part is the author’s animated response.

Let’s take a look at our Potential Lawsuit of the Day, which serves as a good reminder that if you want to win an online argument, don’t get mad, get funny…

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No, not that gavel...

* Dewey retired partners with unfunded pensions get a seat at the table for this bankruptcy circus? Yeah, but only because the U.S. Trustee did something unheard of and appointed a committee of former partners as creditors. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Yesterday was definitely a great day to be gay on the east coast. In addition to the First Circuit’s DOMA decision, a New York appellate court ruled that being called gay is no longer defamatory per se. [New York Law Journal]

* Milberg is the latest firm to dump Paul Ceglia of Facebook lawsuit fame, but Dean Boland, his other lawyer, says the Biglaw firm just “serve[d] as a distraction.” Somebody please give this man a dislike button. [Buffalo News]

* Humblebrag of the day by Judge Alsup of Oracle v. Google fame: he’s written lines of code “a hundred times before.” He also squashed Oracle’s API copyright infringement claims like bugs. [Courthouse News Service]

* Remember Kimberly Ireland, the Kansas attorney who falsely accused Judge Kevin Moriarty of waxing his gavel beneath the bench? She got a retroactive two-year suspension. [ABA Journal via Legal Profession Blog]

* Elizabeth Warren has confirmed that she told Harvard Law and Penn Law that she was a Native American, but only after she had been hired. She didn’t get any action of the affirmative variety, no sir. [Associated Press]

* Recent law school graduates are a little more desperate than we thought they were. At least 32 people have already applied for that BC Law job advertising a salary below minimum wage. [Boston Business Journal]

* Activision settled a lawsuit with two Call of Duty developers, but isn’t worried about an effect on its financials due to a strong third quarter performance. And you can thank your damn Elite packages for that. [PCMag]


* There’s a war on prison rape. I’m excited about this. I can’t wait to bang prison rape in the ass. [Simple Justice]

* Meanwhile, there’s more rape probing on the Dominique Strauss-Kahn front from a French prosecutor. [Fox News]

* On the eve of his law school graduation, a student reflects on “the most colossal f*** up of [his] life.” [Shady Nation]

* Jamie Dimon has had better months. [Dealbreaker]

* Defamation by half-truth. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* The California bar results are out. Congratulations to all who passed. [State Bar of California]

* There are a lot of bones to pick with this week’s Blawg Review. [Cyberlaw Central via Blawg Review]

For years now, the number of people suing in hopes of getting rich through some tenuous connection to Facebook’s early days has been longer than the line in front of Wal-Mart on Black Friday. And with Facebook’s rumored multibillion-dollar IPO possibly happening at the end of this week, the list of hopefuls is only getting longer.

This week, a magistrate judge in Massachusetts tossed out another one of these suits, filed by one of Mark Zuckerberg’s former classmates. This suit was a bit unusual, though. Instead of going after Facebook or Zuckerberg himself, the man used a roundabout strategy of suing the producers of The Social Network for “defamation by omission.”

Keep reading to learn more about Aaron Greenspan, the man who says he is just too damn important to have been left out of the Oscar-winning movie about Facebook…

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* The Am Law numbers are out. PPP is up 3 percent. Dollar, dollar bill y’all. [American Lawyer]

* Hasbro — the makers of Nerf guns, a.k.a. the best toys ever — apparently hired some Baker & McKenzie attorneys to intimidate a guy who runs an Australian Nerf fan site. I hope they “intimidated” him with Nerf guns, because it would be funny, and no one would actually get hurt. [Crikey]

* At 85 years old, Congressman (and Georgetown Law grad) John Dingell learned that “teabagging” doesn’t mean what he thinks it means. Better late than never! [The Daily Dolt]

* I’m surprised that there are enough businesses horrible brave enough to ask for potential employees’ personal electronic information that it necessitates legislation. But I’m not complaining. [RedTape / MSNBC]

* Finding out that repeated concussions and head injuries may cause long-term brain damage is only surprising to people who have suffered repeated concussions and head injuries. [LexisNexis]

* A 14-year-old Georgia girl and her parents have sued some of her classmates because they acted like bitches on Facebook. Are these girls bullies? Yep. Is it the proper solution to turn the situation into 90210: Courtroom Edition? I still don’t think so. [Threat Level / Wired]

* Support local businesses, like your high-end neighborhood brothel. The Manhattan Madam is now accepting donations… to help her make bail by Mother’s Day. [Dealbreaker]

* Vote for Lat as the most likeable lawyer of 2012! [Likeable U]

We’ve covered the trials and tribulations — and occasional dishonorable public unveiling — of anonymous internet commenters before. And we have learned that just because someone comments anonymously does not mean no one can find out their identity.

A Texas couple, a day spa owner and a prominent attorney, won a large defamation suit against would-be anonymous commenters last week, showing once again that your secret identity is never as secret as you might hope.

The couple may not be billionaires, but after the massive defamation verdict, which stemmed from untrue criminal accusations made online, they might feel compelled to start rocking out to a milli, a milli, a milli, a milli

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Half of it’s nonsense, and the other half is more nonsense.

Tony Abbatangelo, referring to blog comments in the course of responding to a defamation suit filed against his client, an anonymous internet commenter known only as “Lawyer.”

(What are the salacious comments that “Lawyer” is being sued over? Find out, after the jump.)

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Nicollette Sheridan

* It’s time for the Supreme Court to sound off on the battle over women’s wombs, and you know it’s bad when even a sitting justice calls it “a mess.” Can a child conceived after a parent’s death receive survivor benefits? [CNN]

* Disgusting health warning pictures on cigarette packaging and advertising: now constitutional according to the Sixth Circuit. Maybe this will inspire people to quit a habit that’s almost equally as disgusting. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* When Biglaw is involved, so is big money. Say “aloha” to the largest personal injury settlement in Hawaii’s history. The state will pay $15.4M over the hiking death of Gibson Dunn partner Elizabeth Brem. [Am Law Daily]

* A lawsuit filed against fashionista Alexander Wang over his alleged “sweatshop” has been discontinued, and not because there isn’t a case, but because the lawyers on either side have major beef. [New York Magazine]

* The Better Business Bureau has moved to dismiss a Florida law firm’s suit over its “F” grade. Because sometimes the truth hurts, but that doesn’t mean you can sue over it if you don’t like it. [Orlando Sentinel]

* The biggest bimbo from Wisteria Lane gets screwed again, but this time in court. A mistrial has been declared in Nicollette Sheridan’s lawsuit against the producers of “Desperate Housewives.” [Reuters]

People always ask the Above the Law editors, “What kinds of people leave such horrible comments on your website?” And we always say, “Regular people, the ones you work with or socialize with.”

Most internet commenters are regular people who, under the Invisibility Cloak of cyberspace, feel free to say whatever disgusting/ridiculous/illogical thing that pops into their heads.

Lest anyone think the phenomenon is unique to our website, please think again. For better or worse, trolling is an inevitable part of online media. Most of the time, it’s best to just ignore it. Once a while, however, anonymous online commenting may signify something larger and more pernicious.

Case in point: our inbox was flooded over the weekend with the emerging scandal of a prosecommenter (yeah, you read that right) in New Orleans. This is what happens when a federal prosecutor takes his case to the interwebs instead of the court. Bad times…

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