In “The Dirty Lawsuit Could be First of its Kind in Reputation Management,” SEW explained how the website The Dirty (thedirty.com) was being sued by Sarah Jones for posting false content that she claimed damaged her reputation. The content was sent in by a third party and posted by the owner of the website (Nik Richie).
The case has importance to the reputation management industry because it was the first time a judge had not accepted the Communication Decency Act (CDA) as a defense. The CDA protects sites, such as forums that accept user-generated content, from liability.
The case went through deadlock back in January 2013, and recently resurfaced on July 8. Late last week, the jury deliberated and found The Dirty to be liable for damages. They awarded $388,000 in damages to Jones.
Richie’s lawyers had asked the court to reconsider the CDA as a defense. They requested an immediate appeal, rather than defending the case a second time, but both were denied.
The main reason the judge didn’t allow the CDA as a defense is believed to be the fact that Richie acts as an editor of all content posted on the website The Dirty. He often modifies or adds his own comments to third-party submissions.
This case has been closely watched by the legal and reputation management industries as it could have major implications on how public forums post user submitted content in the future.
The success of this lawsuit is going to open a flood of new lawsuits against The Dirty and other sites like it that host third-party content. It is likely that such sites are going to take removal requests more seriously in order to avoid costly lawsuits.
It is a small victory for the reputation management industry as victims who have false and damaging content posted online may find it easier to remove.