Food for Thought
Many of you already know about the lawsuit at hand. There are many issues to consider about this case, which others have shared with me via email and over the phone. I wanted to share their thoughts with you.
1) I was never contacted by the developer, nor his representatives, to correct the misstatement. The lawsuit was the first instance of me finding out that he was upset about the blog post. Had he contacted me to make a correction, or to take it down, I would have gladly done so.
2) A blog is an open forum. My blog allows people who visit this blog to leave comments. The developer, or someone associated with the developer, could have left a comment correcting the misstatement. This was never done.
3) I did not have my license hung with EWM at the time that I wrote the post. Does this mean that all corporations should now be held accountable for the blog posts that their employees wrote on Myspace before working for them? Does corporate America now need to review all blog posts that someone may have written before the employee was hired?
4) Every day, people on Amazon.com leave both positive and negative views about products. Does this mean that Amazon.com should be sued because somebody has an unfavorable opinion about a product and has decided to leave a comment that is deemed to be negative? What happens if their comment turns out to be a misstatement about the product?
5) The bottom line is that this is a blog. Wikipedia’s definition of blog is the following:
A blog (a portmanteau of web log) is a website where entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. “Blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.
Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (artlog), photographs (photoblog), sketchblog, videos (vlog), music (MP3 blog), audio (podcasting) are part of a wider network of social media. Micro-blogging is another type of blogging which consists of blogs with very short posts.
To me, a blog is a way to share thoughts and ideas with others. As Robert Jarvis, a constitutional law and ethics professor at Nova Southeastern University, stated in the Miami Herald article “Courts understand [blogs] are written in unedited, unvetted fashion”.
6) Journalists are offered the opportunity to retract misstatements. If a newspaper publishes a misstatement then the publisher is offered the opportunity to make a retraction. A blog writer, however, is not held to the standards of a journalist. As stated above, blogs are viewed as open forums. The plaintiff could have corrected the misstatement by addressing it in a comment left on the blogger’s website.
I’m not going to reveal the amount of traffic that this blog receives, but considering the number of people in this world, the visitors to this website represents such a minute percentage of the global market. Miami is not a local market. There are people from all over the world who have an interest in owning property in Miami and Miami Beach. If I had written about the housing market of some small community in Arkansas (sorry to use you as an example…please don’t sue me) then maybe a court could show that I influenced the thoughts of buyers and sellers within that community. The fact of the matter is that there is interest from buyers from all over the world that have their eyes on Miami real estate. To say that my blog influenced the Miami condo market is ridiculous. Flattering, perhaps, but still ridiculous. As I said, the percentage of people who read my blog in this world is minute.