Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Courtney Love Sued for Twitter Defamation

Do people take what they read over Twitter as fact or opinion? That's one of the issues of contention in a lawsuit by designer Dawn Simorangkir against Courtney Love, over allegedly false tweets Love sent to her 40,000+ followers

For details about this story, please read the following article that I have quoted from THR,Esq.

Courtney Love’s Tweets Lead to Unique Defamation Showdown

Rocker's rants bring the first high-profile trial over celebrity Twitter comments.

 

The following article appears in the current issue of The Hollywood Reporter available on newsstands Wednesday.
 
Courtney Love was very upset.
The firebrand rocker had been locked in a dispute with Dawn Simorangkir, a fashion designer who was demanding payment for a few thousand dollars worth of clothes.

So on March 17, 2009, Love took to her Twitter account and began hurling a stream of shocking insults at the designer known as the “Boudoir Queen.” 

Love’s tweets, which instantly landed in the Twitter feeds of her 40,000 or so followers (and countless others via retweets), announced that Simorangkir was a drug-pushing prostitute with a history of assault and battery who lost custody of her own child and capitalized on Love’s fame before stealing from her. “She has received a VAST amount of money from me over 40,000 dollars and I do not make people famous and get raped TOO!” Love wrote.

That tirade, along with others the Hole frontwoman unleashed on social media platforms including MySpace and Etsy.com during the next four days, form the basis of a unique lawsuit headed to court in January: the first high-profile defamation trial over a celebrity’s comments on Twitter.

“There has never been anything like this case before,” says Simorangkir attorney Bryan Freedman, who will attempt to convince a Los Angeles jury that Love’s false statements destroyed his client’s fashion career, thus entitling her to potentially millions of dollars in damages.

In an age when public figures from Kanye West to Ryan Seacrest communicate influential messages to thousands — sometimes millions — of followers on social platforms, the Love case raises the question of whether celebrities, like the news media, should be liable for what happens if they intentionally put untrue and damaging statements in front of their loyal readers.

“We don’t believe there’s any defamation, and even if there were defamatory statements, there was no damage,” says James Janowitz, an attorney for Love.

A key to the case, say First Amendment lawyers, could be whether an average Twitter user would interpret Love’s vicious tweets as facts rather than merely her opinion.

“I’ll be interested to see if the court gives people posting on Twitter more latitude than other media,” says Alonzo Wickers, a defamation expert who has handled matters for such media clients as Comedy Central and TMZ. “The way Twitter is evolving, it seems to be more of a means to express opinion. I would hope courts give tweets the same latitude as they do an op-ed piece or a letter to the editor.”

To aid her case, Simorangkir plans to call to the stand Jessie Stricchiola, a social media expert who was tasked with studying how many people saw the Love rants and what kind of credibility is given to statements made on a casual forum like Twitter. Stricchiola will report her findings at trial.

Love, who is scheduled to testify in court, already gave a deposition in the case, during which she argued that she was only repeating in her tweets what she had heard from Simorangkir herself. (Simorangkir denies truth in any of Love’s tweets.) She did acknowledge Love’s influence as a fashion icon, of sorts, and Simorangkir plans to use those statements at trial to demonstrate that Love was enough of a trendsetter to effectively kill her reputation. In addition, e-mails and phone calls made by Love to Simorangkir in the aftermath of her Twitter rampage, some of which purportedly exhibit remorse about the comments, will be introduced to jurors.

Love’s attorneys have their own witnesses, including a medical expert who plans to testify that even if Love’s statements were untrue, her mental state was not “subjectively malicious” enough to justify the defamation lawsuit.

That claim — something akin to an insanity defense for social media — suggests that Twitter was so appealing and addictive for Love that she had no appreciation for how the comments she posted would be received by others.

The trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 18 in Los Angeles. UPDATE: The trial has been delayed to Feb 6.

15 comments:

cucuharis said...

Ssttt, ini rahasia
sampai kini saya gak punya akun di twitter :)

H. Nizam said...

Cucuharis,
Itu tidak masalah kok, ha ha ha ..

colson said...

Typical. Typical US manners to sue people as soon as there is the slightest chance to get serious money out of it.

Well in my opinion Dawn should remember that if you want to go into the kitchen you'd better make sure you can stand the heat.

H. Nizam said...

Hi Colson,
Agree with you.
Actually the main reason why I quoted the article was that the Plaintif i.e. Dawn has an Indonesian family name = Simorangkir i.e. a Batak name (North Sumatera).

yadiebaroos said...

i have an twitter account, but do not so active using it...

Adi Chimenk said...

fitnah lebih kejam dari pembunuhan memang benar adanya ternyata..

Furree Katt said...

haha trust Courtney Love to do something like that! she was always a bit crazy.

Jolly Princess said...

Not sure if this will stand in court. But this seems plausible to me. Unless they could trace the IP address of the computer used in twitting it really belongs to Courtney Love. The website should also be responsible for publishing the twits. They have staff manning their website 24/7. They should have deleted the twits.

H. Nizam said...

@Yadiebaroos,
Okay I'll follow your twitter later.

@Adi,
Benar, bagi fashion designer nama baik modal utama jadi perlu dipertahankan terhadap siapapun.

@Furree Katt,
Yes, as the widow of Nirvana's
Kurt Cobain she has often been controversial.

@JP,
The plaintiff and her attorney should convince the court judges that Courtney's tweets inflicted damages to her.
According to media Twitter plan to deactivate Courtney's twitter account.

r10 said...

saya googling Dawn Simorangkir kok gambarnya malah selalu merujuk ke courtney love?

padahal saya penasaran melihat Dawn Simorangkir yang tampaknya berdarah indonesia

H. Nizam said...

Halo R10,
Sebenarnya yang membuat saya mengutip artikel ini adalah gugatan tsb diajukan fashion designer yang namanya pakai marga Batak : Dawn Simorangkir. Sayangnya saya juga tidak berhasil menemukan informasi pribadinya. Linkdin hanya sebut dia tinggal di Austin, Texas. Mungkin perlu kerja lebih keras lagi untuk cari tahu tentang dia, apalagi sekarang namanya mejadi lebih terkenal terbawa popularitas Courtney Love.

sawali tuhusetya said...

bisa jadi inilah dampak dahsyat dari teknologi virtual, mas harry. media sosial yang demikian mudah dipakai ternyata menimbulkan dampak sosial yang benar2 di luar dugaan. agaknya dibutuhkan kearifan juga utk memanfaatkan jejaring sosial semacam twitter.

H. Nizam said...

Mas Sawali,
Memang dibutuhkan sikap arif dan bijaksana dalam berkomunikasi melalui jaringan sosial online seperti Twitter, Facebook dll.

the dream catcher said...

mungkin ini juga mengajarkan org2 ati2 sama apa yg di sharing di twitter...
Hah, OOT dikit, pengen tau gimana orang sana spelled SIMORANGKIR dengan benar yak :D

H. Nizam said...

Halo Ria/The Dream Catcher,
Ini memang pelajaran bagi kita semua.
Saya masih belum menemukan informasi detail tentang Dawn Simorangkir, mungkin ada pembaca yang bisa bantu.