Articles Tagged with libel and slander lawyers near Wheaton and Naperville

Consumers have long relied on recommendations from friends and family before buying products and services, and businesses have risen and fallen like empires on this tradition of word of mouth. Then, the Internet brought about the ability to broadcast your opinion of a business to practically everyone in the world, and to see reviews by people you’ve never met. The potential benefits to businesses of this have to be weighed against the potential detriment when people post negative reviews. Generally, people are only motivated to leave a review if they had a very positive or very negative experience, leaving a skewed perspective of the business on the world wide web.

Some businesses have tried to fight back by including language in their terms of agreement which punishes customers for posting negative reviews online. While the legality of such a measure is in question, consumers all over the Internet have made their displeasure known.

Recently, the Union Street Guest House (USGH), a New York hotel, took it a step further by allegedly including a clause which punishes customers if another customer posts a negative review of the hotel anywhere on the internet. According to the hotel’s policy, “If you have booked the Inn for a wedding or other type of event anywhere in the region and given us a deposit of any kind for guests to stay at USGH there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review of USGH placed on any internet site by anyone in your party and/or attending your wedding or event. … If you stay here to attend a wedding anywhere in the area and leave us a negative review on any Internet site you agree to a $500 fine for each negative review.” The policy further noted that the $500 charge would be removed once a negative review was taken down, and that the policy only applied to wedding parties and events. Continue reading ›

As Americans, we love to cite the First Amendment of our constitution any time someone doesn’t like what we say. The one that says that we can say whatever we want without worrying about prosecution. In reality, though, that’s not quite true. The First Amendment does indeed protect freedom of speech, but not all forms of speech are protected under the Constitution. For example, libel, incendiary speech (a.k.a. “fighting words”), and “true threats” are not protected under the Constitution. The problem can be discerning what makes a “true threat”, and the difficulty has multiplied with the use of social media. Without body language and tone of voice to indicate whether something is meant earnestly or in jest, people can find themselves in trouble for saying the wrong things. In a recent case, which will be heard by the Supreme Court in the fall, Anthony Elonis posted some rap lyrics to his Facebook page after his wife, Tara Elonis, left him, taking their two children with her. Like most rap, Elonis’s lyrics were crude and brutally violent, including a suggestion for his son to consider a Halloween costume that included Tara’s “head on a stick”. Anthony Elonis also reportedly fantasized about killing an F.B.I. agent and warned that “Hell hath no fury like a crazy man in a kindergarten class.” Continue reading ›

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