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Defamation Online

Pete Springer/OPB

A libel lawsuit filed in Oregon could be the first in the state to address the issue of defamation on Twitter. The suit was brought by Dr. Jerry Darm against blogger Tiffany Craig. This week, the case settled out of court.

Craig is a Portlander who blogs about IT issues, gaming and, occasionally, her shoes. On June 30th she put up a post about Darm, who practices cosmetic medicine in Tigard. She embedded a YouTube video of one of Dr. Darm’s television commercials and wrote that Darm received a letter of reprimand in 2001 for violating the Medical Practices Act. (The video has since been removed from his YouTube channel). She went on to quote from the board’s judgment, which said that Darm had made “inappropriate physical contact” with a patient and “inferred that this physical contact would be his payment for the treatment.” Craig also tweeted a link to the blog post about Darm. Two months later, she wrote on her blog that Darm was suing her for $1 million for allegedly defaming him on her blog and in the subsequent tweet.


While this is the first Twitter defamation case in Oregon, it’s not completely unprecedented nationwide. Singer Courtney Love settled out of court earlier this year with a fashion designer about whom she had written several unflattering tweets. A NBA referee sued a reporter for a tweet the ref interpreted as calling his ethics into question. And of course, there are many more examples of people being sued for what they’ve written on their own blogs.

Have you ever gotten into legal trouble over something you blogged or tweeted? Have you filed suit against someone who damaged your reputation online? Even if you’ve never been involved in one, do lawsuits like this make you think twice about what you write about other people on your blog or twitter feed? 

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