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Litigation against online forum for removal of threads

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Interesting reading this morning in The Age. A company is bringing legal action against an online forum (Whirlpool) becaus ethey would not remove negative comments posted by some users in 2 threads. They are saying that it caused them loss of business.

My question is if it is successful could some listed companies raise the similar cases against online stock forums for downrampers?

Not really a question by more an invitation to comment as I do understand this current case has a long way to go.

Article below.

Claim threatens tech forum
Jesse Hogan
September 13, 2007

A $150,000 legal claim by an aggrieved software developer is threatening Australia's most popular technology discussion forum, Whirlpool.

Gold Coast company 2Clix Australia is suing Whirlpool's founder, Simon Wright, over alleged "false and malicious" claims made by the website's users about 2Clix's accounting software and the company itself.

2Clix made the claim of injurious falsehood — similar to defamation — after Whirlpool refused to remove two collections of users' comments, called "threads", from its website.

The first of the two discussing 2Clix and its software began in February last year while the second started in November.

According to the claim, negative comments in the threads have contributed to a "severe downturn" in 2Clix's monthly sales since January, when it first sought to have the threads removed.

"The statements have been intended to produce and have resulted in actual damage to both the plaintiff and its trade and business," its claim states.

2Clix claims it has sent 13 emails to Whirlpool since January requesting removal of the threads.

White Computer Lawyers founder Steve White said the decision to continue hosting the threads was "a risky one which they need to fully consider".

Whirlpool posted a story about the claim on its website, stating: "Whirlpool believes the action has no merit and will defend the matter vigorously, despite being a community website with little resources."

Two 2Clix staff, national sales manager Stephen Tritton and support manager Simon Metcher, were regular contributors to the threads, asking customers experiencing software problems to contact them.

In one of the threads, Mr Tritton asked the "gutless wonders on this thread who hide behind aliases and refuse to contact any of us to resolve your issues" to "put up or shut up".

"How do I know they are clients of ours and not opportunistic competitors seeking an easy way of bad-mouthing a company that has taken business and market share from them?" he said in another thread.

Mr Wright is believed to have until October 9 to respond to the claim, which has been lodged in Queensland's Supreme Court.
 

numbercruncher

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Yes i suspect there will alot more of this in the future.

Its easy to see both sides of the argument as well, will be interesting!
 

professor_frink

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Yes i suspect there will alot more of this in the future.

Its easy to see both sides of the argument as well, will be interesting!
For everyone that posts on forums like Whirlpool and ASF, I hope there won't be a lot more of this.

Out of all of the words that come to my mind when hearing about it, 'interesting' most certainly isn't one of them. Do you think that ASF won't have to change at all if Whirlpool lose this battle? How will we be able to discuss various products that are out there?
 
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It will be interesting to see the outcome.. I see that the case is not defamation.
From some accounts, the software had fundamental flaws in it. That would be simple enough to clarify. Check the date of the posts, correspond it with the version of the software and check the results.

There was something similar on a scuba forum back in 2004 or so. The dive shop operator went a little strange, abused the customers, attempted to run over one of the female divers, and threated to leave the customers on a secluded beach. This was reported on the scuba forum and the lawyers for the dive shop sent letters to the forum owner; not the posters suprisingly.
The dive forum removed the posts immediately and simply removed any reference to that dive shop in it's archives with a made up name. All free advertisement to that dive shop was also removed immediately, also..

That was the end of it for the dive shop.

Cheers,
 

numbercruncher

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Out of all of the words that come to my mind when hearing about it, 'interesting' most certainly isn't one of them. Do you think that ASF won't have to change at all if Whirlpool lose this battle? How will we be able to discuss various products that are out there?
Hello Frinky ....

Sorry to hear you dont find this Interesting, I most certainly do, I find loads of stuff interesting including your response to me finding this Interesting.

Yes im perfectly aware of the potential ramifications from this.

Hope you have a Interesting day!

:)
 
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Every forum I have known has always automatically deleted posts that could lead to legal action or if a threat is made. Our posts are not important enough to threaten the existance of a forum.
 

doctorj

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The heart of a stockmarket forum is the ability to be critical of companies, their products/services, software, books the works.
This matter goes right to the heart of free and fair online discussion. I applaud Simon for having the guts to fight the good fight on behalf of everyone else. I for one have chipped in a couple of dollars to help him out.
 
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Suppose criticism has to be very careful, words have to be subtle and sophisticated.

We came to times when criticism is not tolerated, probably direct effect of having last couple of generations grown up on positive feedback crap.
 
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IMO...i't's not about 2clix name, more so a grab for cash as Simon would probably have more than the poster expressing an experience or opinion...

Heck why not sue AUDA bieng the AU governing body for allowing the domain to stay alive, as they would have more money than Simon, or just sue the government as they would have more again... but you will have to match them as if it drags on in the courts... he who lives longer wins LOL

I would never touch 2Clix products given their legal attack, not to mention quetionable software which WP members have struggled with on WP forum....

Could only imagine what would happen if an enitity tried suing Joe Blow (is Joe Blow in the phonebook LOL) given the smaller numbers we have round here and the ability to donate to a fighting fund....

Last I heard WP raised a few thousand in donations last night, but guessing that wouldn't go very far...

SevenFX
 

rub92me

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Could only imagine what would happen if an enitity tried suing Joe Blow (is Joe Blow in the phonebook LOL) given the smaller numbers we have round here and the ability to donate to a fighting fund....
We may be in small numbers, but we are RICH! :D I think Joe and the mods are doing all they can to keep (down) ramping within check on this board. Some other (warmer) forum may have more to worry about imo.
 
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I would never touch 2Clix products given their legal attack, not to mention quetionable software which WP members have struggled with on WP forum....

SevenFX
tekmann, do you use microsoft products? Apple, cisco, HTC? They have made "legal attack" in upholding their brand. A compnay's branding is a very important piece of IP; often it is the number one asset. I can understand fully from a fundamental perpective on why a company, any company, would fight vigorously for its good name.


As for the "questionable software" you refer, what first hand experience have you with this package? Do you know any of the posters in the forum thread personally so as you can be comfortable in accepting their judgement?

After reading the Plaintiff's requests, the most important seemed to be "a permanent manditory injunction" to have the unsubstanciated claims to be removed from the forums. The company repeatedly asked the owner of Whirlpool to remove the claims about their product and those requests went unanswered for close to six months.


Will be interesting, especially if the forum posters are required to put up evidence of their remarks..



Cheers,
 
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I never heard about this product so I have no opinion, should I have to get something for myself I would be wary, after all I was influenced by opinions voiced on the net before.

I wander, is anybody here who has used the product has any opinion about this product?

Of course without going into strong words.
 
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but we are RICH! :D

I think Joe and the mods are doing all they can to keep (down) ramping within check on this board.

Some other (warmer) forum may have more to worry about imo.
What is your account & bsb number, so a direct debit authority can be filled out just incase... LOL

Agree, JB and Co do a good job round here, hence why this forum is most popular....

If you mention the other forum you could be in HOT Cupper tea, and feel the heat which wouldn't be pleasant :p:

SevenFX
 
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tekmann, do you use microsoft products? Apple, cisco, HTC? They have made "legal attack" in upholding their brand.

I can understand fully from a fundamental perpective on why a company, any company, would fight vigorously for its good name.
I use all their products working in the industry, and haven't seen them fighting the thousands of forum members (if any) that have a opinion or expressing displeasure on a product they're bought.

This forums members, along with millions of happy n UNHAPPY members on WP and other forums have littered the threads with their experiences, and no gag orders have been served to date.

(However I do see companies going after other companies, which makes good financial sense.)

If that were the case, no forum or members would exist, no one member would ever express anthing they're experienced, unless everyone had a double degree in IP and general law.

As for the "questionable software" you refer, what first hand experience have you with this package?

Do you know any of the posters in the forum thread personally so as you can be comfortable in accepting their judgement?
No first hand experience, as that would have been revealed in my OP, and research would have had me execise caution given these threads on 2Clix have been around for some year now.

In addition given the lockin strategies they utilise, combined with entry subscription of $5-10K upwards most of these packages would send you broke on given most companies hindge on their accounting systems.

There are more creditable companies out their in that industry if you did want to lockin to a accounting modular fully supported system..

IMO I would use something MYSQL or MSSQL and build it to suit holding all the rights and ability to amend accordingly....

I also don't know the poster(S) concerned, but don't I don't disbelieve everything I read, when multiple people are saying the same thing.

Stan 101. do you only believe the posts of people on ASF that you've met, held a long term relationship, if so how many on here have you met, and how many haven't you met...???? hence would raise a question against to their postings...

I sure if the court rules against WP, then this will change the very fabric of AU and the world with regards to free speech & forums.

SevenFX
 
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and haven't seen them fighting the thousands of forum members
Thanks for your view. I must disagree with the above section of your previous post, though. The script was noted to one person. I've given my view in a previous post on why I feel they did what they did.

The company wants the posts hemoved as they believe them to be misleading and detrimental to their business. It's a fair point when that forum thread is the second link when a google search takes place on their trading name. It was before this all made the news, too.

Stan 101. do you only believe the posts of people on ASF that you've met, held a long term relationship, if so how many on here have you met, and how many haven't you met...????
No. Zero, to the best of my knowledge. All of them, to the best of my knowledge.
 
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http://www.efa.org.au/Publish/PR070919.html

EFA welcomes Whirlpool lawsuit back-down
Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) today welcomed the decision by software vendor 2Clix Australia Pty Ltd (2Clix) to abandon their lawsuit against Internet forum site Whirlpool.net.au.

2Clix filed suit against the owner of Whirlpool for "injurious falsehood", alleging that he had maliciously published forum postings which criticised 2Clix's products and services, with the intention of damaging 2Clix's business. 2Clix claimed that the publication of that criticism caused a "severe downturn in monthly sales" of approximately $150,000 per month.

EFA understands that an employee of 2Clix has contacted Whirlpool and various media organisations and advised them that 2Clix intends to discontinue the lawsuit. However, as of the time of writing, 2Clix have not filed the necessary paperwork with the court to actually discontinue the action. EFA further understands that Whirlpool have tried to obtain official confirmation of this news from 2Clix and 2Clix's lawyers, without success.

"Lawsuits are a short-sighted and self-destructive way of dealing with criticism," said EFA Chairperson Dale Clapperton. "As McDonalds and many other companies have learned, suing your critics will cause much more damage and bad publicity than the criticism itself ever would."

"The outpouring of support from Whirlpool users and others demonstrates that members of the Australian Internet community will zealously defend their right to freedom of speech online, and their ability to express their honest opinions about goods and services. The fact that 2Clix has apparently decided to abandon the lawsuit demonstrates that people power has worked, in this case."

EFA strongly believes that consumer criticism of unsatisfactory goods or services should not be suppressed by the threat of a lawsuit.



-- Ends --

Below is:
- Background information
- Contact details for media


Background:

The Whirlpool website:
http://www.whirlpool.net.au/

The Statement of Claim filed against the operator of Whirlpool:
http://whirlpool.net.au/img/article/2clix/soc.pdf

EFA Press Release condemning the lawsuit:
http://www.efa.org.au/Publish/PR070912.html

About EFA:

Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc. ("EFA") is a non-profit national organisation representing Internet users concerned with on-line rights and freedoms. EFA was established in 1994, is independent of government and commerce, and is funded by membership subscriptions and donations from individuals and organisations with an altruistic interest in promoting online civil liberties.

Media Contact:


Mr Dale Clapperton
EFA Chair
Phone: 0416 007 100
Email: dclapperton at efa.org.au
--------------------------------------------------------------
Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc -- http://www.efa.org.au/
URL of this release: http://www.efa.org.au/Publish/PR070919.html
 
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