Friday, September 5, 2008

Internet Directories and Ratings Websites,

I have been in trial this week, so I have been neglecting my blog but want to fire off a quick post about a new issue I have spotted regarding internet directories.

Almost everyday, I receive calls from businesses and professionals upset that they have been defamed by an anonymous reviewer on an internet business directory/ratings service. Citysearch is one such prominent directory, but there are specialized directories for lawyers, doctors, dentists and every other kind of profession you can imagine. It is very difficult, under the Communications Decency Act, to hold the website liable for defamation. As such, most websites refuse to remove defamatory, anonymous posts. Unfortunately, those posts remain and often rank high in Google search results.

What is a business or professional to do? Recently I have found a great deal of success in "convincing" website directories and ratings sites to remove defamatory posts. Not because of the defamation angle, but based upon the theory that such sites do not have my clients' permission to use their name, likeness and trade names for profit. Frequently, these sites generate revenue by posting ads upon my clients' profiles. I call that misappropriation of likeness for profit and an unfair business practice. Should a business or professional be forced to associate with a website directory against their will? That strikes me as wrong. This may become a powerful new tool in combating anonymous internet defamation on directories, we shall see as it is yet to be fully tested in a court of law.

If you are the victim of internet defamation, contact an internet defamation lawyer for information regarding your rights.


Adrianos said...

Has this strategy worked with respect to Avvo? I'm finding that a lot of lawyers are now listed (it seems to be the rage) on Avvo and are "claiming" their profiles. I wonder if claiming one's profile on would make it difficult/impossible to employ your strategy?

Erik Syverson, Internet Lawyer said...

I haven't dealt with Avvo but claiming one's profile and actively posting to it may not help.