The Printing Press to the Internet
5. Defamation: Constitutional and Cyber Law
C H A P T E R F I V E Defamation Constitutional and Cyber Law CONTROVERSY: In late August 2008, two individuals who worked in the modeling profession in New York told Liskula Cohen about what they had read on a blog, “Skanks in NYC.” They told Cohen, a former Vogue model, that an anonymous blogger had described her as a “psychotic, lying, whoring skank I would have to say that the first place award for ‘Skankiest in NYC’ would have to go to Liskula Gentile Cohen.” The anony- mous blogger also called her a “ho,” an “old hag,” and a “fortysomething” who “may have been hot 10 years ago,” among other disparaging remarks. Cohen, 36 at that time, petitioned a New York state court for pre-action discovery from Google, Inc., in January 2009 so that she could sue the anonymous blogger for libel. (Blogger.com, where the comments were posted, is a subsidiary of Google.) Google grumbled a bit; it said it would not comply unless a judge ordered it to do so. Eventually, a judge ordered the search engine company to out the blogger. Before that occurred, the still-anonymous blogger removed the postings, and, through an attorney, argued that she had not defamed Cohen. That August, however, the judge, persuaded that an average per- son would find the words in question defamatory and that Cohen had established a strong enough case to go to trial, ordered Google to comply.1 Later that month, Cohen dropped her $3 million libel...
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