Saturday, September 28, 2013

Online Defamation Q&A With An Internet Defamation Attorney

By Mike Munter

Below is our online defamatory content Q&A with an attorney who specializes in internet defamation cases.

Is there a statute of limitations on defamatory online content?

Yes.  Many people do not realize that the statute of limitations for defamation claims in many states is only one year.  Many individuals have called me and want to get a court order to remove a defamatory posting that is hurting them or their business. After looking into the matter, I have the unpleasant task of explaining to them that the statute of limitations has run and they will likely have to live with that defamatory post in their search results forever. 

When does the statue of limitations start?  Does anything restart the clock?

The statute of limitations starts to run right when the defamatory post is made, even if the post does not appear on any of the early pages of the client’s search results.  It does not restart simply because a post has made its way onto the first page of a Google search.  That’s why it is so important to monitor the conversations that are happening on the internet regarding your company and your brand.  If there’s a particularly harmful posting that seems to be buried after it’s posted, you should still think about proceeding with the court order approach before the year has expired to ensure it never makes it to the first page of your company’s search results.

Is there a better option than the court order to deal with a false statement posted on RipOff Report?

I have yet to see a case where RipOff report agreed to take a post down.  Even if the poster themselves wants to remove it, RipOff Report will not remove it.  Obtaining a court order is the only way I’m aware of to get defamatory posts removed from the search engines entirely. You can’t sue RipOff report or force them to remove anything on their website because of a federal law – the Communications Decency Act. This act essentially makes them immune from any lawsuits related to statements posting on their website.  

So there’s nothing I can do to get the post removed from the RipOff Report website?

They do have an arbitration process where you can pay a fee to go through the process and if you convince them the material is false, get the statements redacted; however, they will not remove the RipOff report entirely.  Thus, there is still a page that has the clients name in a RipOff report that appears high in the Google search results, even if you are successful in arbitration.  And, for the individuals and business that I’ve represented, having a RipOff report with their  name on it come up on the first page of Google is damaging to their business reputation.  Thus, I still believe that the best approach for the clients  is to get a court order against the poster stating that the post is defamatory and then submit that to the search engines asking them to remove the defamatory page from their index, so it no longer appears in search results.

Please note that each search engine is different, so even if we are successful in getting Google and Bing to remove the defamatory content from their indexes, you may still want to take your judgement to smaller search engines, such as and others.

You might also enjoy our real RipOff Report Case Study

What if you cannot identify the person who created the false post?  Can you still get a court order?

Yes.  We have gotten courts to serve the screen name by email or by publication.  We use a cyber investigator to present evidence that shows that we have exhausted our means of trying to identify the defendant.  The judge will typically then sign an Order against the screen name, stating that the material is defamatory.  We can submit that court order to Google, Yahoo, and Bing, and get them to delist the post from their search indices. 

Approximately, how long does it take to remove content from search results via your method of obtaining a judgement?

The time that it takes to remove content depends on a number of factors that vary in each case, such as the jurisdiction where the case is filed and the actions of the judge in that particular case. In certain cases, we can get the content removed in a couple months, and in other cases the rules of the jurisdiction and the judge’s timescale make the process much longer.  Unfortunately, there is no way to provide a concrete time frame.  However, our goal is typically to get the material removed in 2-4 months.      

What is range of costs associated with this process?

Because the time and amount of work vary depending on jurisdiction and the judge's requirements, the costs can vary as well. Our goal is to get the material removed as cost-effectively as possible. 

If you have negative or defamatory content posted about you on Ripoff Report, call us at 503-890-6663 for a quote on getting it removed. Learn more about how we remove Ripoff Report from Google and other search engines

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