US ad agency Warren, Kremer Paino Advertising LLC was not amused when blogger Lance Dutson started criticising their work for the Maine state tourism office. In fact so unamused were they that they issued proceedings for $1 million damages for copyright infringement, defamation and trade libel.
Melissa Geffert's Letter from America
Osborne Clarke Silicon Valley, California
Who: Warren, Kremer Paino Advertising LLC v Lance Dutson
Where: Maine, USA
When: May 2006
Blogger Lance Dutson is being sued for $1 million in Maine, USA by the advertising agency hired by a state tourism office, for statements he made on his blog relating to the role of the ad agency in promoting Maine tourism.
Mr Dutson used his blog to make statements about the state tourist board's hiring of Warren Kremer Paino Advertising LLC based in New York to market the US state of Maine. Mr Dutson was critical of the efforts made to promote Maine and made his view clear for all to see.
Warren Kremer Paino Advertising LLC based in New York, is suing Mr Dutson for copyright infringement, defamation and trade libel/injurious falsehood in respect of his use of their draft advertisment, and several "defamatory statements designed to blacken the agency's reputation".
Why this matters:
To date industries around the world affected or criticised in personal blogs have not generally sought to prevent their publication, but have in preference used these sites for gathering information and the gauging public opinion.
It has never previously been considered commercially advantageous to shut these sites down, due to the cost of litigation and the ability of the blogger to re-appear in a different guise.
However this case highlights both the potential influence that bloggers have and the seriousness with which their statements are now being viewed by industry.
As industry attempts to apply the laws of defamation and intellectual property to the new and far reaching "blogosphere", it raises questions of freedom of speech and how this might be protected, not just in the USA but globally.
For bloggers, having been previously considered "under the radar" of big business, there is now a serious threat of substantial personal liability.
Both industry and bloggers should keep a close eye on this case….