Ripoff Report’s Magedson wins defamation suit
by Carol Thompson
Ed Magedson, whose company, Xcentric Ventures, operates the website RipoffReport.com, has been involved in nearly 100 lawsuits and has yet to lose a case.
The most recent case is no different.
A lawsuit was filed by attorney Richard A. Goren in regard to negative complaints posted by Steven Christopher Dupont. In January 2012, DuPont posted a report alleging that Goren engaged in improper conduct in his professional and personal life. Dupont made a similar report again in Feb. 2012. Goren responded by filing an action against DuPont in Suffolk Superior Court for libel and intentional interference with prospective contractual relations.
A year later, Goren notified DuPont that he intended to waive his claim for damages in favor of an injunction. In March 2013, Goren obtained a default judgment against Dupont. Goren also obtained orders appointing himself attorney-in-fact for DuPont and purporting to transfer to him DuPont’s copyright to the January 2012 report. Goren then sought an amended judgment to include the Feb. 2012 report.
Goren and Dupont then filed suit against Xcentric Ventures July 2013.
According to Magedson’s website, most of the claims were dismissed due to the immunity granted to websites under then Communications Decency Act, a federal law that gives immunity to websites that host third-party content.
“Goren attempted to use legal process to take the copyrights for the complaints away from the author and the website operator, but the Massachusetts federal court found Goren’s attempts to take the copyrights were illegal and invalid, Magedson wrote. “Goren also attempted to claim that Ripoff Reports business practices were illegal and unfair, but the Court also struck down those claims, stating that Goren could not show that he had been harmed by the website’s VIP Arbitration program, nor the Corporate Advocacy Program.”
Magedson offers those who feel they have been harmed by negative complaints the opportunity to participate in the websites VIP Arbitration program and/or the Corporate Advocacy Program. Goren, according to Ripoff Report, did participate in the Corporate Advocacy Program and the website was updated April 2014 with a favorable report.
In response to his most recent court win, Magedson wrote, “Goren’s legal theories were among the most inventive, and frankly, twisted, as he sought to corrupt both copyright and consumer protection laws to serve his own interests. Once again, the federal courts have upheld freedoms of speech on the Internet, and upheld Ripoff Report’s carefully structured consumer protection programs against a lawyers self-serving attack.” Magedson noted that in his opinion, Goren would have been better off just filing a good rebuttal to explain his side as to why the report about him was false.
Ripoff Report does not remove reviews from its site nor does it allow the complainant to remove his or her review, hence, a negative review becomes permanent.
How did copyright law come into play?
In 1996, Congress enacted U.S.C. Section 230, a law that states online review websites generally aren’t liable for their users’ reviews, even if the review website gets a takedown notice or otherwise knows the review is questionable. Section 230 does not address copyright claims. Those claims are governed by the DMCA (17 USC 512), which says review websites may be liable for allegedly infringing reviews if they aren’t removed quickly in response to a takedown notice.
The copyright office, however, doesn’t provide for involuntary transfer rights. Also, Dupont, in posting his review, granted Ripoff Report an irrevocable license and copyright assignment isn’t the proper remedy for defamation, according to Forbes.
The issue may not be over. Magedson wrote on his website, “Ripoff Report may seek an award of attorney fees because Goren’s copyright claims were designed to harass the website and were not legally sound.”
Image: Flickr/Blogger Bloom