Internet Law

Lawyer uses copyright law to attack negative Web reviews

A Boston lawyer is using copyright law as a way to avoid a federal statute that grants immunity to website operators for third-party posts.

Richard Goren persuaded Massachusetts courts to award him the copyright to posts on the Ripoff Report deemed libelous, and now he has filed an infringement suit against the website, the National Law Journal reports.

According to Goren’s suit (PDF), he obtained a state court injunction requiring Google to remove the offensive Ripoff Report posts from its search engine. Google asked for specific URLs, which Goren provided. But the Ripoff Report then re-indexed the posts with different dates, resulting in a copyright violation, the suit alleges.

According to the suit, the Ripoff Report has a strict no-removal policy for posts on its website. It solicits those who are subject to a false or defamatory report to pay a fee to restore their reputation or to participate in an arbitration program, Goren claims.

Goren told the National Law Journal that he has not heard or read of his approach being tried before, “but I think it will work.”

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.