August 23, 2009

The model insisted on outing the blogger who called her a "skank."

And look, it's a woman — a young woman — a pretty young woman.
Speaking out for the first time since a court order forced Google to reveal her identity, blogger Rosemary Port tells the Daily News that model Liskula Cohen should blame herself for the uproar.

"This has become a public spectacle and a circus that is not my doing," said Port, whose "Skanks in NYC" site branded the 37-year-old Cohen an "old hag."

"By going to the press, she defamed herself," Port said.

"Before her suit, there were probably two hits on my Web site: One from me looking at it, and one from her looking at it," Port said. "That was before it became a spectacle. I feel my right to privacy has been violated."
But before you celebrate Port's seemingly wise anti-litigation statement, take note that she's suing Google... for $15 million federal lawsuit against the Web giant.
"When I was being defended by attorneys for Google, I thought my right to privacy was being protected," Port said.

"But that right fell through the cracks. Without any warning, I was put on a silver platter for the press to attack me. I would think that a multi-billion dollar conglomerate would protect the rights of all its users."

In her suit, she'll charge Google "breached its fiduciary duty to protect her expectation of anonymity," said her high-powered attorney Salvatore Strazzullo.

"I'm ready to take this all the way to the Supreme Court," Strazzullo said. "Our Founding Fathers wrote 'The Federalist Papers' under pseudonyms. Inherent in the First Amendment is the right to speak anonymously. Shouldn't that right extend to the new public square of the Internet?"
How hard did Google fight? Surely, there's no absolute right to hide your identity. Why should someone who commits the tort of defamation escape a lawsuit by hiding behind a pseudonym? It's not fair to the people who have the guts to show their names when they libel people. They get stuck being defendants in defamation suits.

The key is for courts to have a high standard in determining whether there really is defamation before they order that the name be revealed. Otherwise, someone who has not actually suffered a legally remediable injury can use a lawsuit for the wrong purpose: to inflict the injury of making a pseudonymous writer's name public.

Note that Liskula Cohen is now dropping her defamation suit against Port. That's good for Port. It's bad to be sued for $3 million. But it suggests that the disclosure of the name was the point of the lawsuit. Courts should not allow themselves to be used for that purpose. And Google's lawyers should fight hard to make courts see it that way.


The Drill SGT said...

a simple cat fight.

I git a chuckle from the lawyer on this one though:

Wagner also denied that Cohen posted suggestive pictures of herself - and said Cohen proved as much in court. The raciest shots, taken at a private party, showed a fully clothed Cohen apparently simulating sex with a fully clothed man. (Cohen did post a slightly saucy shot of herself on all fours inside Cipriani's.)

I'd hate to tell a judge with a straight face that simulated sex between a couple in public wasn't "suggestive" :)

Anonymous said...

The real beauty of this is that they're in on it together.

How better to get two unknown models onto the pages of every. single. newspaper. and. blog. in. Amerca!

You simply cannot purchase this kind of publicity.

You've been punk'd Ann.

I'll bet dollars to donuts this gets "settled" out of court, with a proviso that neither party ever reveal the settlement arrangements.

Bravissimo, ladies!

AllenS said...

I have to confess, I once called Maxine Weiss a cow.

WV: bofacri

Related to bovine.

KCFleming said...

Well, is the model a skank and a ho? Is truth still a defense?

No you da ho!

Der Hahn said...

People really need to stop confusing privacy with anonymity.

Anonymous said...

They'll ride out this 15 minutes and then, once again, slip away into the folds of absolute obscurity. And, even after that, the truth shall remain steadfast - nobody should care about these women.

jaed said...

The surprising decision, though, seems to have only increased the bad blood between the two women, who knew each other from Manhattan's fashion scene and reportedly quarreled after Cohen badmouthed Port to her ex-boyfriend.

Oh for Christ's sake.

If I were the court, I would be sorely tempted to whomp Wagner and/or her attorneys for this. Does a court have any such power? Declaring that a suit was brought in bad faith and ordering a plaintiff slapped with a wet fish, or some such?

(I am assuming that Wagner and probably her attorneys knew who the anonymous blogger was. Otherwise, her dropping the suit on release of the name doesn't make much sense to me. If she knew and didn't share this with her attorneys, perhaps they could be slapped with a wet anchovy or something, A token penalty.)

Zach said...

If I recall correctly, there was a long history of pseudonyms being used specifically for seditious and libelous writing in connection with the American and English Revolutions. An awful lot of the founding fathers used pseudonyms for precisely that purpose. (Or the related purpose of not being challenged to duels over libelous writing.) It would be interesting to look at how the founding generation looked at this issue.

former law student said...

...although no one could actually define one, all but the simplest souls could spot one. Her hair was ratted, she wore tight black slacks that had creases going sideways, wore makeup...

The 1950's definition of "skank," as recorded by John R. Powers in his The Last Catholic in America.

john said...

Oh man, these two need to settle this. Lets say, best out of 3 rounds of thong wrestling on YouTube.

Enough of these "private parties".

Bender R said...

a court order forced Google to reveal her identity . . . In her suit, she'll charge Google "breached its fiduciary duty to protect her expectation of anonymity" . . .

If the disclosure was by court order, then Google really isn't responsible, is it?

Wince said...

If I were the judge I'd call them both into a "motion session," with the possibility of sanctions.

Ralph L said...

Courts should not allow themselves to be used for that purpose
Like revealing allegations in a politician's divorce?

sheryph - a (non-butch) female sheriff.

The Crack Emcee said...

They're both ugly. Two skinny, waify things.

TWM said...

Not so pretty I think.

Beth said...

What is the Fashion Institute of Technology?

It sounds very serious.

William said...

Althouse has extracted a useful, rational principle out of this absurd quarrel. Paris Hilton once observed that the human animal is a machine exquisitely calibrated to make shit and piss out of fine food and wine. In some ways the study of the law is that same process in reverse.

Peter Hoh said...

Pogo, I da Hoh.

Lem said...

I read the whole thing and I cant find the blog.

No link.

Joe said...

Where in Google's terms of service does it state, or even imply, that your identity as a blogger will be protected?

Bruce Hayden said...

My vote for is for Port, if I had to pick one of the two. I am not a fan of blond's (sorry Ann, but I assume Meade is). Port is hot.

That said, I don't see this case going very far, unless there is something we are missing. Google apparently tried to keep her identity secret until the court order. About the only other thing that they might have done was an interlocutory appeal, on the grounds that once her identity was disclosed (as it was), there was no remedying the situation later. But, the case really couldn't proceed until the plaintiff knew who had allegedly defamed her, so I think that the judge was probably right in issuing the order.

One of the things that you almost always find any more in non-disclosure agreements is that a party is not liable for disclosing confidential information if done pursuant to a court order. That is just the way things are - we are expected to obey court orders. And I don't think Port is reasonable to assume that Google wouldn't.

dick said...


FIT is a fashion school located in mid-town Manhattan around the high 20's and low 30's just below the Garment District. If I remember right they are affiliated with Pratt Institute.

It does sound weird though, I agree.

rhhardin said...

Suing is a way of saying that enough is enough.

You're not asking the court to say it. You already have.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

Revealing the name of the person who called her a 'skank' changes the call from that of 'everywoman' to Ms. Port. 'Odd Girl Out' goes into the female social hierarchy process and Cohen avoided the local defamation, or intimidation through its partial accomplishment, by her suit. Ms. Port had the right to write such things in her private papers but a blog is necessarily public (Ms. Port hints at this defense by saying that only she and Cohen had read it but did she demonstrate this?). Also once you start insisting that defamation involve very significant public notice, you get to the other end of the spectrum and a suit can't be initiated because someone is a 'public figure' (otherwise the message wouldn't have traction).

blake said...

I was gonna say that truth is a defense, but "skank" seems to be a fairly imprecise term of disapproval, like "jerk".

They both look bitchy, don't they? Deliberate?

Penny said...

"Suing is a way of saying that enough is enough."

If only that were true for the majority of cases, rh, but I fear we are way past this in our nation.

Suing is what some do who cannot resolve their own personal issues. Granted, the new wrinkle of anonymity adds a layer of difficulty here.

More often, suing is used as a pseudo-lottery. "I will take my chances in the hope of making some BIG bucks.

The fact that there are so many cases, and most cases are "settled" out of court, makes suing one of the individual's best shots at transferring some wealth.

"Transferring Wealth" comes in many forms. Let us not forget this tried and true method which isn't discussed nearly enough.

Penny said...

Some wise politician will eventually run on a platform of "Free lottery tickets for all!"

Let's take out those pesky lawyer middlemen once and for all!

It will be a much improved distribution channel.

Anonymous said...

"But it suggests that the disclosure of the name was the point of the lawsuit."

It suggests that might be the case but I can think of another equally plausible possibility. Perhaps Liskula Cohen really, really thought it was someone else, specifically someone who she really would like to sue. And when she found out it wasn't that person, then she didn't have any interest in proceeding. She might not like what Port said, but she might not have the grudge against her that she has against this other suspected person.

Methadras said...

I've got my popcorn ready to go for this one.

wv = zingsent = man, my wv lottery is going gangbusters. zingsent? Really? zingsent. What these two ladies are going to do to google in court.

Bruce Rheinstein said...

Litigation is expensive. Unless Rosemary Port has deep pockets, there's no point in continuing with the lawsuit.

# 56 said...

She is not paying a dime in the pursuit of Google dollars. The attorney is looking at the corporate pockets, the opportunity to break new ground and grab some tabloid headers.

M. Simon said...

In engineering FIT is Failure In Time.

Sounds about right to me.

Michael Roberts Internet Libel Litigation Consultant said...

In many cases horrible problems have been avoided for the community as a result of anonymous blogging. This includes whistleblowing for white-collar criminals, community awareness when sexual predators move into the neighborhood, and many other alerts that are of great community benefit.

Benefits notwithstanding, you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs and anonymous free speech on the Internet is one such omlette. There is no such thing as free speech, there is always a cost. Sometimes that cost is acceptable, moreover desirable, particularly in the case of positive community awareness. But often their many false and deceptive rumors, and libelous attacks are motivated only by hatred and vindictive antisocial promptings. More often than not, these serial cyber defamers have some type of antisocial personality disorder. They have nothing better to do than hurt other people, in fact they are actually fueled by other people's pain. Normal people like 97% of the readers of my comment cannot begin to relate to how these people think. Stop for a moment and imagine not having a conscience..... is simply impossible.

A concerted, focused and malicious Internet smear campaign can be as devastating for a person that relies on his or her reputation for employment as a fire can be for a farmer who loses his fields, barns, and livestock.

Respectfully submitted by Michael Roberts. Internet Libel Victim's Advocate.

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