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Video Professor Finds Way to Highlight On-line Criticism

You know the Video Professor - he's the guy on those infomercials that urges you to buy his computer education programs by trying them for free.  The company even encourages consumers to search for reviews online before buying.  Problem is, lots of consumers are complaining online that they were mislead as to the "free" part, or are otherwise unhappy with the product.  Perhaps in an effort to draw more attention to the negative reviews, the Video Professor has taken to suing the bastards who are saying these bad things.  SueBastards.jpg

Do you suppose the Prof. is aware of the Streisand Effect?  Or the likelihood of succeeding in stifling anonymous criticism in light of the First Amendment rights involved and other available defenses?  In any event, right or wrong, the online world does not like bullies, and the backlash has begun (see below).

On a practical note, these links provide a good tutorial and resources (including forms) for those involved, or considering getting involved, in litigation to identify anonymous internet posters.

Video Professor sues anonymous griping posters, demands their identities

Video Professor Sues Anonymous Critics

Politicians, infomercial kings try to stifle anonymous Internet speech

Letter from Public Citizen Litigation Group

The Video Professor Sues His Unnamed Critics

-Photo courtesy of Llyod Doppler under Creative Commons

Posted on Monday, September 24, 2007 at 11:00AM by Registered CommenterTim Feathers in , , | Comments2 Comments

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Reader Comments (2)

This issue is important to consumers! This is a draconian attack on the very foundation of the First Amendment Speech. An entity or a person with 'deep' pockets believes he can suppress Free Speech through financial intimidation is no different than a foreign junta or a dictatorial regime arresting their opponents for their expression of free speech through military or police action.


Can you imagine where this would lead? Let's warp this ahead in time and say that Video Professor is successful in his suit against the defendants in this case. According to an article in the Denver Post, he promises to take this all the way up to the Supreme Court. Would this not have a chilling effect on every negative review of a product, movie, politician, corporate business practice, restaurant, movie etc.? Could not this open the legal floodgates for anyone who has received a negative review claiming the same cause for libel and defamation? I would lead you to other similar celebrated cases being fought against a book review website at various places on the web and comments on contractors at referral lists websites and even a politician for negative comments from voters! Can you believe that!!!!

Negative Book Review
http://richarddawkins.net/article,1546,PZ-Myers-sued-for-a-negative-review-in-a-blog-post,Boing-Boing or

Here:

http://www.boingboing.net/2007/08/20/writer-sued-for-a-ne.html.

Here: Contractors List Website

http://www.angiegotsued.com/

Here: Politician suing their constituents
http://www.politechbot.com/2007/09/21/infomercial-kings-try/

Would this not suppress every critic out there or limit their comments in a fog of possible litigation? His assertions maybe one thing, but the effect is challenging each individual to respond and defend themselves in court as not being a competitor!

The bottom line is this. Can a person or a corporate entity who has unlimited financial and legal resources be able to use the judicial system to suppress the Free Speech of outspoken critics who he KNOWS does not have access to those same resources? Litigation in the court system is expensive.

A lawyer can bury the other side in paperwork with legal tactics and strategies using depositions, interrogatories, subpoenas, delays, appeals etc. There is no way that the average consumer has the economic resources to legally fight such a strategy and they know this. So in effect, they are able silence their critics by De Facto litigation and Intimidation. However, the chilling aftermath of all this is a suppression of the basic First Amendment Rights and Consumer Advocacy.


In the W. R.Grace & Co in the Woburn case and in Libby, Montana, http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/grace03.shtml. Didn't Jan Schlichtmann's Law Firm end up in bankruptcy?

These cases do not merit the free speech discussion above but only shows how corporations and individuals can use the legal system to advance or protect their business practices
from consumers.
October 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNita Johnson
Thanks for the thoughful comment Nita.
October 3, 2007 | Registered CommenterTim Feathers

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