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Is saying something "sucks" considered slander?
Just got a cease and desist.
Perfection




msg:4165401
 8:17 pm on Jul 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

So I just got a cease and desist letter about an older blog post of mine that is sort of a review of a product. Let's call the product "Blah Blah Blah."

The title of this post is: "The Blah Blah Blah Sucks"

The cease and desist I got is telling me I need to rename this post (and it's url which also contains that title).

My question is, do they really have me on something here, or is it my legal right to say their product sucks in this manner?

Thanks in advance.

 

pageoneresults




msg:4166056
 8:20 pm on Jul 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

Since when do lawyers send C&Ds via email? It's been a while since I've gotten one but they usually come via Registered Snail Mail and not email.

jwolthuis




msg:4166079
 8:44 pm on Jul 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

Take down the blog post. It shouldn't hurt you financially (or if it does, it strengthens their case), and no post is worth the legal hassle.

They win. Life is short. Move on.

Samizdata




msg:4166121
 9:48 pm on Jul 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

They win. Life is short. Move on.

That opinion sucks, in my opinion.

...

lexipixel




msg:4166125
 9:59 pm on Jul 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

Take down the blog post. It shouldn't hurt you financially (or if it does, it strengthens their case), and no post is worth the legal hassle.


Bull-puckey. If you're in the right, don't cave.


I would follow up with a blog post outlining this farce!


Agreed. If you are in the right, (they do actually suck in your opinion), DO NOT edit or change the post in any way -- as others have said, this is probably nothing more than "SEO flavored with online reputation management" -- the threat of legal action makes me want to say, "bring it on" -- and the best defense is a good offense.

Do a follow up post:

Example Doesn't Want me to Tell You They Suck

You need to monetize the pages to make it worthwhile or they win by the mere fact that you spent time and didn't get paid.

There's a guy on t.v. who claims to have been bullied by the FDA and had his book banned -- he's been flaunting it on late night t.v. for years... "The FDA Doesn't Want You to Know"... (Kevin T?).

Register the sucks version of their domain if it's available to really send the right message.

robdwoods




msg:4166169
 10:53 pm on Jul 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think you are pretty safe. Offering an opinion, even a negative one, on a trademarked product is considered fair use. If you link out to their site go back and put a nofollow on it.... no sense passing them any value, or even better, find other sites criticizing their products and link to them to both back up your opinion and to maybe increase the other complaint sites in the rankings :) As long as there are no factual inaccuracies in the post you are fine. It would be like saying that a certain car manufacturer sucks because they've had 10 different recalls in the last 2 years. As long as they have had those recalls, they have no recourse.

bwnbwn




msg:4166172
 11:06 pm on Jul 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

A serious post here I wrote a really negative article on a company about 9 years ago. It is a franchise the article is still in the index and when searched "franchise name profits" my article is #1.
I didn't need to use the word sucks but did a good article I felt people would do a search for when researching the franchise.

Why don't you do the same post another blog or add to the one you have get a couple good links pointing at it and forget this mess. Let the search engines do the rest for you.

If you chose to use the word sucks so be it it is your blog and can post whaever you feel like posting.

AndyA




msg:4166176
 11:12 pm on Jul 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

As a consumer, you have every right to post about your negative experience with a product, service, or company. After all, it is your opinion of the way you were treated, how the item you purchased failed to meet your expectations, etc.

If the company doesn't like it, perhaps they should look to correcting the issues and making things good with you, rather than threatening you. It's easy to see why there was an issue, based on their reaction.

Lyn99




msg:4166210
 12:59 am on Jul 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

Of course it's jurisdictional, as we see from todays charging of the Knox family with slander in Italy.

As for a US claim, they would have to show financial damages. I wouldn't be shaking in my boots too badly, since they don't even know the correct word to use.

Like Paypal, Washington Mutual tried for years to muzzle "WAMU Sucks", but they were unsuccessful. They failed with the libel claim, and they epic failed at not sucking.

[edited by: Lyn99 at 1:03 am (utc) on Jul 8, 2010]

phranque




msg:4166211
 1:01 am on Jul 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

be sure to link that follow-up blog post to the most specifically relevant page on their site with some really good, search keyword relevant anchor text.

Perfection




msg:4166246
 1:59 am on Jul 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

Ha, good stuff guys. Here's an update.

After going back and forth with them a few times, I've now basically told them to shove their C&D, mocked them for not understanding the difference between slander and libel, and updated that post with a sarcastic mention of how their lawyers wanted me to delete it.

Win, win and win! If they reply again, I'll gladly let you know what they say.

blend27




msg:4166255
 2:52 am on Jul 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

do they really have me + difference between slander and libel


I would not post anything that has that word "Sucks" any where, be it a blog, forum, or any other medium. It just shows how desperate you were when someone refused your way.

If their service/widgets/opinion/anything pushed you to the level of expressing your self in that manner that means they win no matter what.

I am gonna go hug something, but that was my 2 cents.

jkovar




msg:4166287
 4:52 am on Jul 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

I didn't see any mention of what laws are being broken in their letter. Such letters that aren't simply scare tactics generally include references to legal code.

I would respond with, "Until you can provide thorough references to legal documentation which entitles you to make this _demand_, I have no choice but to consider it a _request_ that has no legal basis, and to decline your request. Thank you."

tangor




msg:4166302
 5:35 am on Jul 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

Until "sucks" is declared verbotten, it is merely an adjective. :)

I'm with jkovar above... demand their legal reason (and the venue) upon which they seek recourse. Meanwhile, change nothing! Any modifications now, after their letter, will show..."something" whether that is "guilt" or "remorse" or "reconsideration" makes no difference.

One of those "put up or shut up" situations.

graeme_p




msg:4166327
 5:51 am on Jul 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

<quote>They have nothing on you unless you live somewhere that doesn't see things that way. Maybe China. </quote>
The problem is that it does not mater where you live, but where your site can be read - which is usually every where.

I cannot find the reference, but a Saudi banker who was accused of funding terrorism in a book published in the US successfully sued in England on the grounds that a few copies of book had been sold there.

People who want to get you will go jurisdiction shopping and sue where it suits them (in the case of libel, usually England).

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4166344
 6:52 am on Jul 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

Saying something sucks is opinion, we're all entitled to one and free to share it on our blogs.

We're also allowed to mention a brand name in the course of discussion without infringing on the copyright, you're obviously not pretending to represent the company you say sucks.

If they can make their case that your post is damaging their company and place a specific dollar value on that damage a judge would entertain them but they would need to prove you're not correct because you also have freedom of speech that allows you to tell the truth under any circumstance.

~ You could always suggest arbitration and bring money into the fray, a "pay me to settle this" approach is cheaper than court and more profitable for you. Whatever you do don't be insulting in response, make sure you "review" their claim even if you don't intend to change anything.

lexipixel




msg:4166371
 8:17 am on Jul 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

be sure to link that follow-up blog post to the most specifically relevant page on their site with some really good, search keyword relevant anchor text.
-phranque


"miserable failure" lives in spite of Google's attempt to defeat the bomb, news of their defeat ranks #1, (on Google)
... ..- -.-. -.- ... don't it?
johnnie




msg:4166409
 10:08 am on Jul 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don't see anything wrong with saying something sucks. It's just an opinion. They better deal with it and instead of threatening everybody who is negative about their product, they would be wise to invest their time in improving the product.

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4166414
 10:45 am on Jul 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

"pay me to settle this"

I like this idea. :)

jbinbpt




msg:4166421
 11:21 am on Jul 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

The phrase "sucks" was used in the confirmation hearings for Elena Kagen[tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com ]

Apparently it's mainstream enough for the senator from South Carolina to enter it into the record.

StoutFiles




msg:4166436
 12:04 pm on Jul 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

Win, win and win! If they reply again, I'll gladly let you know what they say.


If they decide to sue you don't win, because it costs time and money to deal with defending yourself. Hopefully you don't regret making a spectacle out of the post.

samc




msg:4166438
 12:15 pm on Jul 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

There is an assumption that there has to be a reason to be sued. You can be sued for any reason or no reason so if your afraid of legal action don't have a web site. They come via registered mail, not email. To live in fear... Give them a double sux! with a follow up blog article. Shoot if they really did sue you could go to CNN and go on about David and Goliath.

jkwilson78




msg:4166478
 1:34 pm on Jul 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

If they decide to sue you don't win, because it costs time and money to deal with defending yourself. Hopefully you don't regret making a spectacle out of the post.


This actually goes both ways. It is also expensive for the company bringing the suit and if they have no case at all and it will just get dismissed they won't want to waste the money either.

Larger companies generally keep law firms on retainer that do nothing but send out cease and desist threats. This is a scare tactic plain and simple.

I once had a similar situation where a company threatened legal action because they did not like something I wrote. I changed nothing and stood my ground and they backed off.

The funny thing is while all this was going on, the affiliate manager for the same company threatening to sue me tried to recruit me as a reseller. Clearly one part of the company knew nothing about what the other part was doing.

ceestand




msg:4166665
 5:39 pm on Jul 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

I am sure they would like for you to take it down; Personally, I use "sucks" as part of a search when evaluating something where honest reviews aren't easily found - web hosting, for instance. As long as you accept that the person who wrote "Company X sucks" may be more disgruntled than the average customer, it's a good way to find specific issues that may exist.

ergophobe




msg:4166709
 6:34 pm on Jul 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

Uh oh... this movieweb review is in big trouble:

YOUR SUMMER MOVIE SUCKS: Does The Last Airbender Suck Air or Just Blow? [movieweb.com]

Personally, when I'm investigating a product/company I always do a sucks/rocks search

"Company Sucks"
"Company Rocks"

Half the time, I think the "sucks" searches just reveal whiners and I buy anyway. Sometimes they reveal fundamental problems. In cases like that, if it's a popular product, the SERPS can be filled with thousands of results. Sometimes 127,000 results [google.com] sometimes (and this is really worth clicking on) as many as 158,000 results [google.com] especially considering that this search [google.com] only yields 1/3 as many results.

The defense rests its case.

ergophobe




msg:4166710
 6:36 pm on Jul 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

PS, given a popular bumper sticker in the US, I am forthwith launching a class action lawsuit on behalf of all mean people.

PPS - a certain entrepeneur is targeting at least one sports team with

[team]-sucks.com and lots of [team] sucks merchandise. If a pro sports team can't protect itself against this...

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4166748
 7:23 pm on Jul 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

This one gives 90,000 results.
[google.com...]

No please, I am only kidding, really! :)

ergophobe




msg:4166793
 8:28 pm on Jul 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

BDW - actually, my searches are all phrase searches, with quotes. Add quotes and your search only gives 5 results.

If you remove quotes, my Google sucks search yields 14,000,000 and my Microsoft sucks search yields about 6,000,000, but I don't count those because, for example, the #1 result for Webmasterworld Sucks (no quotes) is for... this thread!

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4166917
 1:27 am on Jul 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

If you get sued for using the word sucks, and they win a dime, PLEASE let us know so that we can all embark on a lawsuit campaign against the countless hordes of people who say our sites suck too.

BeeDeeDubbleU - webmasterworld does not suck, the 90,000 people in your link are wrong. Brett's going to be busy raking in the cash if the word sucks is libelous!

incrediBILL




msg:4166929
 2:17 am on Jul 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

webmasterworld does not suck


Very true.

WebmasterWorld just inhales very vigorously ;) <ducks>

ergophobe




msg:4166956
 4:50 am on Jul 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

Bill, WebmasterWorld smoked but did not inhale.

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4167011
 7:52 am on Jul 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

It was a joke guys. Sorry if you didn't get it. ;)

This 73 message thread spans 3 pages: < < 73 ( 1 [2] 3 > >
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