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  1. #1

    Is it possible to 'libel' an internet handle?

    Title says it all. Can someone sue another person for making a false factual statement about an anonymous internet name?

    For example, if I say something like Spazzman462 (random name I came up with, just coincidence if this username exists) is a pedophile, does this guy have grounds for a lawsuit?

    I would think no, otherwise the court systems would be absolutely clogged with cases like this from blogs and message boards.

  2. #2
    Relic Horn
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    They nailed that woman for having an anon MySpace name and 'driving that kind to suicide.'

    I have no idea about laws that would pertain, but I doubt it's too far off what someone could come up with.

  3. #3

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurp View Post
    They nailed that woman for having an anon MySpace name and 'driving that kind to suicide.'

    I have no idea about laws that would pertain, but I doubt it's too far off what someone could come up with.
    I think the MySpace case was different. They knew who she was in real life and specifically targeted her.

  4. #4
    Relic Weapons
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    I am not a lawyer but I believe that a libel suit would be a tort which is dependant upon damages. So if you called the a pedo and this caused their wife to leave them, they lose custody of the kids, lose their job, etc... then you have a suit.

  5. #5

    Not an attorney.

    We're going to see more and more blurring between real world laws and their virtual influence, but as of now, unless precedent has set it in stone, "libel" would have to be a false statement against a specific person who actually existed.

    Libel against an "anonymous internet personality" would hold no grounds in court, because this internet personality wouldn't be able to defend themselves.

  6. #6
    Relic Horn
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    Anonymous internet personality is still a person. So, if they decide to press charges, I don't see how that wouldn't hold up.

    Also, not a lawyer.

    edit: The whole thing seems really stupid to me, but if they can nail a person for that Myspace thing, I don't see why they couldn't even if you don't actually know who the person is.

  7. #7
    assburgers
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    "They made me lose my job."
    'Your brother contacted me later and apologized, he said he was using your account when I said those things.'
    "Oh crap, that's kind of a devastating point for the case I'm trying to make."

  8. #8
    TIME OUT MOTHERFUCKER

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    You'd have to have some kind of legal ownership of that title/name/alias before you can sue anyone for it.

  9. #9

    Quote Originally Posted by guartz View Post
    You'd have to have some kind of legal ownership of that title/name/alias before you can sue anyone for it.
    So you're saying if Spazzman462 is unknown, he can't sue a dude for claiming he is a pedobear. However, if it is well-known and established that Spazzman462, is say, Carrot Top, then he would have grounds to sue?

  10. #10
    United States of Smash!
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    I agree *gasp* with Guartz until there is legal ownership of a username on the internet then you cannot sue for libel because they can just say they were talking about the "other" Spazzman462, think about how many different usernames you have because at one site or one forum you got the one you wanted but the next site or forum your name was already taken. In the real world this is not a big issue because there is a direct attachment with your physical body and your name so you know if someone is targeting you.

  11. #11
    Relic Weapons
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    You can sue for anything. Now whether you will win or not, that is different.
    The usernames for forums are simply alias's. I am some form of Tomk in everything I do online and can definately be associated with that name. We all are associated with our usernames online so that is irrelevant. The only hurdle it would provide is discovering who to sue irl.

    I was "kinda" wrong in my last post. In speaking to my wife she said that Libel does not necessarily require damages. She started into something about marriage and then said she's fucking busy leave her alone.

  12. #12
    United States of Smash!
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    But Tomk is your username in any way legally attached to you? If you go to another website or forum and the name Tomk is being used by someone else already can you still use the name Tomk?

    What if you see someone spreading rumors about the screen name Tomk and saying bad things but then you find out that it is directed towards the other Tomk on the other forums. Yes you can sue for anything you want but you probably will not win in this situation.

  13. #13

    Quote Originally Posted by Tomk View Post
    She started into something about marriage and
    then said she's fucking busy leave her alone.
    LOL

  14. #14
    Relic Weapons
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    I don't know about a "I wasn't talking about you" defense. Really don't know how that would work because like I said earlier, there really must be a negative impact on the person beyond butt-hurtedness. For lack of a better word right now I'll say damages, maybe not monetary but of some type. So with some form of damage being done it would have gone beyond "whoops" misunderstanding.

  15. #15
    Relic Weapons
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    Also, in all reality someone would say Tomk on BG forums and not just Tomk on the internet.

  16. #16
    Black Belt
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tomk View Post
    Also, in all reality someone would say Tomk on BG forums and not just Tomk on the internet.
    seriously, it's like calling "John" a pedo (anywhere not on the internet) and having all the John's of the world randomly sue you. you can't simply claim someone defamed a single name that can occasionally be used to represent your person unless you have proof that it's you specifically.

    you can say Prince and be talking about the musician or the baseball player (Fielder) or some random guy named Prince something.