Internet Battle Cuts First Amendment Rights?!?

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by MrMacMan, Jun 2, 2003.

  1. macrumors 604

    MrMacMan

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    #1
  2. macrumors 6502a

    trebblekicked

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    #2
    Re: Internet Battle Cuts First Amendment Rights?!?

    don't worry. i'll do it.

    Internet Battle Raises Questions About the First Amendment
    By ADAM LIPTAK



    The beauty queen and the cad both have Web sites. Katy Johnson, who was Miss Vermont in 1999 and again in 2001, uses her site to promote what she calls her "platform of character education." She is founder of Say Nay Today and the Sobriety Society," the site says, "and her article `ABC's of Abstinence' was featured in Teen magazine." Tucker Max's site promotes something like the opposite of character education. It contains a form through which women can apply for a date with him, pictures of his former girlfriends and reports on what Mr. Max calls his "belligerence and debauchery." Until a Florida judge issued an unusual order last month, Mr. Max's site also contained a long account of his relationship with Ms. Johnson, whom he portrayed, according to court papers, as vapid, promiscuous and an unlikely candidate for membership in the Sobriety Society.

    The order, entered by Judge Diana Lewis of Circuit Court in West Palm Beach, forbids Mr. Max to write about Ms. Johnson. It has alarmed experts in First Amendment law, who say that such orders prohibiting future publication, prior restraints, are essentially unknown in American law. Moreover, they say, claims like Ms. Johnson's, for invasion of privacy, have almost never been considered enough to justify prior restraints.

    Ms. Johnson's lawsuit also highlights some shifting legal distinctions in the Internet era, between private matters and public ones and between speech and property.
    Judge Lewis ruled on May 6, before Mr. Max was notified of the suit and without holding a hearing. She told Mr. Max that he could not use "Katy" on his site. Nor could he use Ms. Johnson's last name, full name or the words "Miss Vermont." The judge also prohibited Mr. Max from "disclosing any stories, facts or information, notwithstanding its truth, about any intimate or sexual acts engaged in by" Ms. Johnson. That prohibition is not limited to his Web site. Finally, Judge Lewis ordered Mr. Max to sever the virtual remains of his relationship with Ms. Johnson. He is no longer allowed to link to her Web site.
    The page of Mr. Max's site that used to contain his rambling memoir now has only a reference to the court order.
    Ms. Johnson did not respond to telephone and e-mail messages seeking comment. In her lawsuit, Ms. Johnson maintained that Mr. Max had invaded her privacy by publishing accurate information about her and had used her name and picture for commercial purposes.
    Her lawyer, Michael I. Santucci of Fort Lauderdale, declined to be interviewed. He has asked Judge Lewis to seal the court file in the case, a request on which she has not yet ruled, and to prohibit Mr. Max from talking about the suit, a request she has rejected.
    Mr. Santucci did provide a copy of a news release he issued after the order was issued. "This victory should send a clear message to all parasitic smut peddlers who live off the good names of others," he said in the release, which also noted that Ms. Johnson "emphatically denies the story contained on Tucker Max's Web site."
    Mr. Santucci did not respond to an e-mail message asking whether his issuing a news release was at odds with his request to seal the court file on privacy grounds. John C. Carey, a lawyer at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan in Miami, recently agreed to represent Mr. Max. Mr. Carey said he would soon ask Judge Lewis to withdraw her order and dismiss the case. "Katy Johnson holds herself out publicly, for her own commercial gain, as a champion of abstinence and a woman of virtue," Mr. Carey said. "The public has a legitimate interest in knowing whether or not her own behavior is consistent with the virtuous image that she publicly seeks to promote." Through his lawyer and his publicity agent, Mr. Max declined to be interviewed. Ms. Johnson's site is www.katyjohnson .com. Mr. Max's is www.tuckermax.com. Both Ms. Johnson and Mr. Max sell T-shirts and the books they have written on their sites. Ms. Johnson's book is "True Beauty: A Sunny Face Means a Happy Heart." Mr. Max's is "The Definitive Book of Pick-Up Lines."

    That the sites are also used to make money should make no difference in whether Mr. Max may be forbidden to write about Ms. Johnson, said Gregg D. Thomas, an expert in First Amendment law at Holland & Knight in Tampa, Fla.
    "This is clearly a suppression of free speech," Mr. Thomas said of Judge Lewis's order.
    Prior restraints based on invasion of privacy are unusual. "It has happened perishingly rarely," said Diane L. Zimmerman, a law professor at New York University and an expert in First Amendment and privacy law. "When it has happened it has generated enormous controversy." Professor Zimmerman noted the example of "Titicut Follies," a documentary about patients in a mental hospital that was banned on privacy grounds in 1969 by Massachusetts's highest court. A judge lifted the ban in 1991.
    The prohibition on linking to Ms. Johnson's site is "kooky," said Susan P. Crawford, who teaches Internet law at Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University.
    "To block the ability to link," Professor Crawford said, "is in effect to say her site is her own private property."
    While a prior restraint may not be warranted, legal experts said, Ms. Johnson's invasion-of-privacy claim, so long as it seeks only money, may be justified.
    But that, too, raises difficult issues, Professor Zimmerman said.
    "If you're telling people they can't talk about something like this," she said of Mr. Max's memoir, "you're also telling them they can't talk about their own lives."
     
  3. thread starter macrumors 604

    MrMacMan

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    Re: Re: Internet Battle Cuts First Amendment Rights?!?

    I meant I could if someone wanted me too... :p

    So do you have a view on this?
     
  4. macrumors 6502a

    kylos

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    #4
    The way I see it, if it's false, it's a case of libel; if true, then this cad can say what he wants. Which is why if it was false it would seem she would sue for libel instead of whatever other claim she used.
     
  5. macrumors 6502a

    kylos

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    Re: Internet Battle Cuts First Amendment Rights?!?

    But, MrMacman, you wouldn't be worthy of being a human if you behave like this guy. Sure he has his rights, but his behavior is reprehensible.
     
  6. macrumors 6502a

    trebblekicked

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    Re: Re: Re: Internet Battle Cuts First Amendment Rights?!?

    sorry. before i subscribed to the times i hated having to wait for someone to do it. i meant no offense.:)

    yeah i've got a view on this.

    our country is sue happy and thin skinned. this is typical. like kyle? said, if he's telling the truth, there should be nothing that she could do to stop him.

    what i really don't like is that the internet is subject to different standards than other forms of communication. email is not protected the same way snail mail is. websites are not protected the same way printed press is, etc etc etc.

    and WTF is up with judging on the case before notifying the defendant? this is BS.

    <edit> i just noticed kyle's second post: yr right. the guy may be a scum, but this seems to be a very poorly run trial, and about a very debatable issue. moreover, if he's telling the truth, who's worse? him for pointing out or her for being two faced?
     
  7. macrumors 6502a

    kylos

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    #7
    Oh, I agree the trial is run poorly. That's pretty obvious.

    And you do have a point about the girl. I see it as that she might have changed her perspective in life after being with this guy and hasn't figured out how to deal with this sort of unpleasant situation (kinda reminds me of the Dr. Laura ordeal). In any case she's missing the point (again, assuming this guy's story is true) and should have taken the opportunity to admit her failure and maybe turn in to an example of how mistakes will haunt you for the rest of your life. That would add a lot of strength to her message instead of making everbody think she's a hypocrite.
     
  8. macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #8
    But in the lawsuit, she maintained that she was damaged because he posted "accurate" personal information about her. She can't have it both ways.

    She wouldn't win a libel suit because it's he-said/she-said. That's why she didn't sue for libel. They were undeniably a couple and while he can't prove what he says, she can't prove that he's making it up.
     
  9. macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #9
    Then again, she might just be a hypocrite.
     
  10. thread starter macrumors 604

    MrMacMan

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    I know this guy is scum, but it still gives the court no right to publish his tales of her or otherwise.

    This case is based on hearsay and should have been thrown out.

    He, has the right.

    BTW, if you read his site, he is a Lawyer!

    a drunk lawyer, but still!
     
  11. macrumors 6502a

    kylos

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    I'm not in any way discounting that possibility. Just noting that her handling of the situation would cause most people to think she is a hypocrite.
     
  12. macrumors 6502a

    kylos

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    #12
    Yeah. It's odd, though, how more often than not, it's the scum who have their rights violated.
     
  13. macrumors 6502a

    kylos

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    Yah, that's an odd one. If by accurate she meant that they were involved accurate it sounds at first like an odd admission and not conducive to her case.

    FWIW, a he-said/she-said case should be grounds for libel. If you can't prove a damaging statement then you can't expect to get away with it. Someone's right to privacy is greater than your right to spread unsubstantiated stories as fact...
    and IANAL.:D


    (Sorry about the 3 consecutive posts; it seems more logical than one long jumbled post)
     
  14. macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #14
    not true according to the law:

    http://www.ldrc.com/LDRC_Info/libelfaqs.html
     
  15. macrumors 65816

    melchior

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    #15
    link
    (copy this address, impossible to get a working link)
    Googles Cache of Max's website that was removed.

    i'm not an american, i am australian. i have no bill of rights and the supreme court in australia has determined that the constitution protects free speech of politics alone.

    still, while i could criticize the american bill of rights and constitution all day, the 1st ammendment is a thing of glory and as the USA is essentially the internet's infrastructure and if there were such a thing, it's governing body, i hope, for everyone's sake that freedom of speech is upheld and everyone gives the EFF money
     
  16. thread starter macrumors 604

    MrMacMan

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    Edit: The link below is offically messed up, the code totally screws it up.
    or www.tuckermax.com/Stories/missvermont.htm+%22Miss+America%22+Tucker+Max&hl=en&ie=UTF-8]*try* here[/URL]


    Or Search Google for
    Anyway, it is kinda sad a Judge is going to limit someones rights, heck even on the Internet.

    If he didn't comply then what would happen? They gonna shut down his site?

    edit: CODE GLITCH!
     
  17. macrumors G4

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    #17
    fixed link

    werd
     
  18. thread starter macrumors 604

    MrMacMan

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    #18
  19. macrumors G4

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    #19
    Re: Re: fixed link

    Turn off the 'Automatically parse URLs' at the bottom of your post, you'll have to type in the tags manually.
     

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