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.
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 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.
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 pursue 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.
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.
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.
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:
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.