Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Patrick Ross and the Cost of Malicious Defamation

In the wake of what can truly be called a fail worthy of epic as a descriptor, it should be interesting to chart the fallout from the case against Patrick Ross. Having been found to have acted with malice in a protracted campaign of defamation, the ruling orders Ross to remove any and all blog posts that mention Rob Day. There is no mention made in the ruling to comments he made at other blogs where the smear campaign was spread by Ross. With that said, there remains an interesting side note to the ruling wherein the various blogging aggregators Ross joined will almost certainly require cleansing of the offending material. Canadian Blogs for example not only reprints the content from Ross's originating blog but organizes his posting by tag, as one can see here. That tag is among the actionable slurs that has found Ross on the short end of the judicial stick. By recklessly smearing another person in such a public manner and by using the boards and means of others to amplify the smear, Ross has in effect exposed these publishers to action and will likely cost them some effort and/or expense in mitigating that exposure.

One also wonders how an organization like will react to one of their contributors being found a malicious defamer in a court of law. From the bottom of their page listing all of
Ross's articles...

Examiners come from all walks of life and contribute original content to entertain, inform, and inspire their readers. They are credible, passionate and influential because of their knowledge of a particular topic. Want to join their ranks?

Well, one has to wonder how they will define the term credible in the wake of a $75,000 finding against Ross. They may well want to re-examine his contributions in an act of due diligence after the fact. Given the propensity of the person in question to smear others, they might want to reconsider the wisdom of an article entitled
Mike Hudema Not a Coward, But Not Being Honest. Should Mr. Hudema decide to pursue action against Ross and the Examiner, his case might be bolstered by the finding for Day. And as a commercial enterprise the Examiner could be liable for a far larger award.

Ross has two weeks to clean the offending posts from his own blog, I'm sure there will be a few eyes turned that way to witness his compliance. I don't know what penalties would result from a failure to comply but it will be fascinating to watch.


Zorpheous said...

I think back to my day when I battled Anonalogue and I can't help but feel the victory. I hope CC holds Paddy-Boy's feet to the flames

bigcitylib said...

Hey, I wanna write something on this tomorrow. Is it cool to say its CC we're talking about.

Dave said...

BCL the connection has already been made. You might want to check with Canadian Cynic on Twitter.

Audrey II said...

Given that it was Ross responsible for publishing his comments on other blogs, I think it might be a bit of a stretch for authors of blogs that he posted comments at to be held liable for his actions. Can you imagine the kind of implications that kind of interpretation of liability would have for comments sections of web pages for organizations such as CNN, CBC, etc...? Is Blogger/blogspot liable too then for "publishing" libelous comments or commentary?
...Seems a little untenable.

Ross, on the other hand, is probably the one who ought to be held responsible for comments that he's left elsewhere on the web, and should they be determined to be in similar legal violation of defamation laws, I would think it would be he that should similarly be the one responsible for removing/deleting them (as comment authors often have the option available to do), IMHO.

Lindsay Stewart said...

Hey Audrey, no argument here. Had dinner with CC last night and basically anything that wasn't in the initial state of claim is exempt from court action. That means that comments left at other blogs can stand. Less clear is the republishing of the defamatory statements at aggregator sites as they are whole reproductions, essentially mirrors, of the Nexus of Pat-holery.

As for responsibility for comments, I'm not sure, though I note that the news sites make a show of disclaimers and exercise the delete key. Very few bloggers publish a comment policy on their sites. An interesting question to consider, are you liable for the words of others that are published on your blog?

Jay McHue said...

"By recklessly smearing another person in such a public manner and by using the boards and means of others to amplify the smear"

You mean he did what Rob "Canadian Cynic" Day does all the time?