At this time I’d like to switch gears just a bit, and remind commenters that while bloggers cannot be sued for defamatory comments left on their blogs by other people, the actual commenters can be. Even if you think you are posting “anonymously” (e.g., by inserting a fake email address), IP addresses can be traced, account holders’ names subpoenaed, and voila, suddenly the “anonymous” commenter isn’t so anonymous after all. This harsh lesson is being learned by RIAA victims across the country; don’t assume Infotel won’t resort to the same or similar tactics. Thus, while I encourage commenters to speak freely and truthfully on this matter and any other, I do not condone lying, prevaricating, dowdifying, exaggerating, misleading, stretching the truth, or whatever else you might want to call it. Just don’t do it. It’s not worth it, now or ever.
Thus far, I have not been contacted by Infotel or its attorneys, nor do I expect to be. Nor, I might add, do I have any reason to believe there is (or ever was) any defamatory or otherwise actionable material on my site or Justene’s at any time. Had I encountered anything that appeared on its face to be defamatory or otherwise illegal, I would have removed it immediately. As far as I can tell, all the comments may well be true; however, only the posters themselves can know this for sure.
If you are one of the commenters, particularly one of the self-described former employees, and have posted any comments that you no longer stand behind completely, please let me know which comments (or portions thereof) ought to be deleted. Again, I stress that I do not believe anyone has posted anything defamatory, or otherwise actionable, on either site. I am merely pointing out the issue for the benefit of any commenters who may, potentially, get “caught up in the moment” and post something that could eventually land them in hot water.
While we enjoy a lot more free speech on the Internet than Wayne Brosman seems to think we do, speech on the Internet is not completely free, and libel can be punished on the ‘net, just as it is anywhere else. Anyone doubting this would do well to read Varian Medical Systems, Inc. v. Michelangelo Delfino (2003) (requires free registration), a case that was decided by the California Court of Appeal last week. So if you are thinking of embellishing the truth, or have already done so and are thinking of leaving it up, please reconsider. The way these guys seem to be running their business, the truth should hurt them enough.