Copyright Claim to Deny Freedom of Speech
Update December 2016 : You can no longer be sued for leaving negative reviews online.
Late February, a court ruled in favor of a dentist claiming copyright protection on her patients’ reviews. In this case, surprisingly enough the dentist, prior to any treatment, had asked clients to sign a confidentiality agreement to benefit from a copyright over any comments made about her or her practice. The case is Lee v. Makhenevich, 1:11-cv-08665 (SDNY).
This did not threatened enough unhappy clients to publish negative Yelp reviews. Consequently, the dentist rushed to mute the comments by claiming copyright protection. As it is reported ‘Several of the dentist’s patients filed a class action suit in November 2011 in the Southern District of New York (SDNY), claiming that, even if Defendant does indeed own the copyright in these comments, they were not infringing under the fair use defense of Section 107 of the Copyright Act. Defendant moved to dismiss but the motion was denied on March 27, 2013, by Judge Paul A. Crotty from the SDNY.‘ The case has been commented by Marie-Andree Weiss for 1709 Copyright Law Blog.
This is another demonstration of how a copyright claim can be used to deny freedom of speech. The interconnection between copyright and privacy protection, with freedom of speech is not always obvious at first to the general practitioners. It remains an important legal base increasingly invoked by celebrities. Some of the cases have involved the UK celebrity, Max Molsey, the case of Van Hanover, Naomi Campbell, The Church of Scientology, and few others curated on my Pearltrees (click on each box to access the relevant article).
Let me know what other major case is missing from this collection. I keep my curations regularly updated so if you are interested by the subject, do revisit the link for updates. You an read more about my curations on ‘Bigger Than Big Data, Processed Information is Gold’
A different way of protecting ones reputation than what this restaurant manager did to turn a negative review on his favour.
Status is onlineTara TAUBMAN-BASSIRIAN LLM GDPR, Data Protection and IP consultant – Voted Privacy Hero of the YearPublished •