UPDATE: If you or someone you know has been posted to the website TheDirty.com, the law firm of Meyers Roman Friedberg & Lewis, LPA is pleased to announce that we now offer a solution to completely and permanently remove posts on TheDirty.com from the Internet. The method is fast and guaranteed or your money back. Call Attorney Aaron Minc for more information (216) 373-7706 or Aminc@meyersroman.com.

 

According to David Gingras, long time attorney for the infamous reality blog TheDirty.com, there may be a way to get content permanently removed from the website. For individuals and businesses that have had false or unfair content posted about them on the site, this is big news.

So how’s it done?

Get a court to validly declare that the information posted is false.

Dr. Dre vs. TheDirty.com

The information about the possibility for post removal was recently revealed in the wake a dispute between rap legend Dr. Dre and TheDirty.com. The skirmish started when posts went up on TheDirty.com about Dr. Dre, alleging that Dre’s wife knowingly allowed him to have extra-marital relationships. Other posts (now removed from the website) allegedly identified one of Dre’s “side pieces” and showed pictures of a house they stayed in together and some nice “bling” that Dre allegedly gifted to the woman.

Dr. Dre did not take kindly to the posts. His legal team quickly fired off a letter to TheDirty.com, demanding that the site immediately remove the posted materials and post a retraction and apology.https://tmz.vo.llnwd.net/o28/newsdesk/1122-Dirty-LLC-Nik-Richie.pdf

Rather than helping his cause, the letter likely backfired. Gingras sent back his own satirically laced response letter explaining that although he is a big fan of Dr. Dre and that Gingras used to “personally destroy[] subwoofers blasting N.W.A.’s  F**k Tha Police in his car in the high school parking lot”, the website would not be removing the posts.

The letter then went on to offer some legal analysis explaining why the TheDirty.com typically doesn’t remove posts and humorously poked fun at Dre’s attorneys claims that the posts were false, comparing Dre to the likes of Bill Clinton, O.J. Simpson and Lance Armstrong.

Most significantly though, in the last paragraph of the letter, Gingras pointed out to Dr. Dre’s attorneys a way to possibly get the posts about Dre removed. Gingras stated that if the posts about Dr. Dre were false, as Dre claimed, he suggested that Dre pursues litigation against the author of the post.  He then stated, “if a court finds the posts are false, then they will be removed.”

What this may mean is that TheDirty.com has apparently embraced a policy to remove posts from its site if a court of law validly declares that the posts are false. The stance is similar to other Internet service providers and websites, like search engines Yahoo/Bing, Google, and WordPress.com. It was not been previously clear that TheDirty.com would consider removing content after receipt of a valid court order.

 

Why TheDirty.com Typically Doesn’t Remove Posts Alleged to Be False?

I don’t claim to speak for the site, but the simple answer is likely because they don’t have to.  Under a law called the Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S. 230 (the “CDA”) the website is immune from most legal claims against it.  Pursuant to the CDA website owners and operators are not responsible for material posted on their sites by users. The author is liable for what they post.

TheDirty.com, like many other sites, takes the position that it “cannot simply remove everything that is claimed to be false for the same reason that prison warden can’t simply release every inmate who claims to be innocent. Deciding who is guilty and who is innocent is not a task that can or should be delegated to website owners.”  Therefore, the site is “simply unwilling to take side in the disputes” and does not typically agree to remove material that is claimed to be false.

Why TheDirty.com May Agree to Remove Posts if Supplied a Valid Court Order

Again, I don’t claim to speak for the website, but I can surmise that there are several reasons that TheDirty.com, along with other websites and search engines agree to remove content upon being presented a valid court order.

It Conforms to their Policy.   As stated above, TheDirty.com and other websites don’t see it as their place to play the role of judge or jury and take sides in a dispute. However, if parties present their claims to a government sanctioned independent forum to resolve a dispute, they are allowing the Courts to play the role of decision maker. The site is therefore allowing a court to decide the dispute for them so they don’t have to.

It Improves the Quality and Integrity of Information.  Most sites, even ones as salacious and scandalous as Thedirty.com, want their site to be viewed as a reliable source of accurate information. If someone goes through the trouble of getting a court to declare content to be false and defamatory, it is logical that a site would not want that false information posted to its webpages. Therefore, when a site is presented a valid court order that a post is libelous, they then have valid reason to believe a post is truly false and remove it. If they didn’t, it would undermine the integrity of the website as a reliable and accurate source of information.

Because They Can, And It’s the Right Thing to Do.  While the CDA grants sites like TheDirty.com power to keep defamatory materially posted online without liability, it also gives sites the power to take content down without consequence. A part of the CDA is the “Good Samaritan” section, which specifically provides that websites will face no civil liability for taking any voluntary action in good faith to remove materially that is “objectionable” regardless of “whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”   On the balance, its way harder to take posts down, then put them up. If a party goes through the trouble of filing a lawsuit and getting a valid court order, that is worth consideration.

How Can I Get a Court Order to Remove My Post From TheDirty.com?

Contact an experienced Internet defamation attorney like myself.

Litigation over online defamation is NO JOKE.  Although filing a lawsuit can sometimes be a good idea, litigation is not always an appropriate course of action. There are many considerations to take into account that must be discussed with an attorney before taking action.

Additionally, litigation that involves Internet defamation is a very niche and complex area of the law. Defamation actions are notoriously difficult to prosecute because of many procedural and substantive hurdles. Plaintiffs in defamation actions must account for many issues, including:

  • Abbreviated statutes of limitations,
  • Jurisdictional issues regarding where a party can sue and be sued,
  • Dozens of privileges and defenses under the First Amendment of the Constitution and CDA,
  • Possible statutory counterclaims (ANTI-SLAPP laws),
  • Inconsistent laws regarding defamation from each state,
  • Notoriously difficult damage claims to prove,
  • The difficulty of uncovering the identity of anonymous authors,

Furthermore, even when a party does get a valid court order, websites are not always required to remove content. There is NO GUARANTEE that information will come down even with a valid court order (see past articles regarding Bing and follow-up post on Searchenginewatch.com).  The decision to remove content after being presented a court order is more or less a voluntary choice by the website in most circumstances. Many sites, like TheDirty.com are wary about certain abuses related to court orders and do not accept orders as being valid under certain circumstances.

Therefore it’s critical to hire an attorney who is experienced in the area of Internet Defamation and court orders of this nature.

If you or your business is being defamed online on TheDirty.com or another website like it, the Internet attorneys at Meyers Roman Friedberg & Lewis, LPA can help assist you in evaluating your case and obtaining a court order to get the content permanently removed.  Call Aaron Minc at (216) 373-7706 today to discuss your matter. Or e-mail me at AMinc@meyersroman.

 

About TheDirty.com

TheDirty.com is the self-proclaimed “World’s largest Gossip Website.” The website and its founder, Hooman Karamian a.k.a. Nik Richie, claims to provide a necessary public service for our society. In 2010, he claimed that his site was “…a form of holding people accountable for their actions.” However, the front page of the website appears to present a variety of content including shaming people allegedly committing dishonest acts, advice columns, and other commentary on recent events.

The website’s front page has a prominently featured, magenta-colored “Submit” button for users of the site to send content to the website. The submitted content can include text, photos, and videos. The site does request the submitter’s contact information and requires submitters to agree to a lengthy legal agreement. In that agreement, submitters give up their rights to content submitted and agree to indemnify the website for any legal action that might be filed. However, while the agreement on the submission pages requires users to certify “that the Content [they] submit is an original work …. or control 100% of the rights,” nowhere in the agreement appearing on the page are users required to certify accuracy or truthfulness. In fact, the site’s TOS states, “Because they are not verified, postings may contain erroneous or inaccurate information.”

 

If you are facing the consequences of false, baseless and defamatory Internet postings you don’t have to just sit there and take the abuse. Contact the Internet defamation removal attorneys of Meyers Roman Friedberg & Lewis, LPA today. For a free, confidential, and no-obligation consultation call us at (216) 831-0042.

The Problems with TheDirty.com’s Approach to Defamatory User-Generated Content

TheDirty.com is a particularly interesting site because it is somewhat different from many pure user-generated sites. Unlike many sites which only post user-generated content, TheDirty.com also editorializes at the end of many articles with bold text signed “- nik” In some cases, this has lead lawyers to argue that the site is not entitled to the broad protections provided to websites that post user-sourced content contained within Section 2309(c) of the Communications Decency Act. This provision states that:

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker any information provided by another information content provider.

In one particularly high profile case, Jones v. Dirty world Entertainment Recordings, LLC, a Kentucky court initially found that TheDirty.com was not entitled to these protections. However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit overturned that holding.

While TheDirty.com does receive the protections contained within the Section 230, the individual website users who make reports to the site do not receive similar safe harbor. If their posts and reports are found to be false and defamatory, they can be held liable for the damages they inflict. However, TheDirty.com’s approach to potential defamation is non-responsive and obstructionist since the site states that it will not reveal the identity of those who submit reports. The site writes in its FAQ that, “at a minimum you’re going to need a subpoena and in some cases you might have to obtain a court order.” Such an approach is likely to encourage malicious individuals to use the reach and voice of the site for their own purposes.

However, the site’s approach to removal requests isn’t all bad. The site does claim that it will be responsive to DMCA requests when copyrighted photos are published without permission. Furthermore, the site does claim that it will attempt to address instances of revenge porn. Furthermore, if a post makes the claim that a person has an STD, the site also claims that it would be willing to work with the victim if the victim can supply proof that the accusation is false. Even given the above statements though, most people find the site to be unresponsive to most removal request and legal assistance is required to get the website’s attention.

 

Rely on Our Internet Defamation Removal Experience

False reports on sites like Thedirty.com can cause serious harm to one’s reputation and standing. The individuals who use defamation to achieve their own goals should be held accountable for the humiliation, embarrassment, lost opportunities, and other damage they inflict on people’s lives.

To schedule a free and confidential Internet defamation removal consultation with the experienced attorneys of Meyers Roman Friedberg & Lewis, LPA call (216) 831-0042 today. We guarantee the removal of the materials from the offending website or you will receive your money back.