Three National Headlines Discussing SLAPPs Last Week

Sep 23, 13

The Wall Street Journal Market Watch: Read this before trashing companies online
“Often these suits are meritless,” filed simply to get the consumer to remove the negative review, says Evan Mascagni, an organizer for the Public Participation Project, which is trying to pass legislation that would protect people who are sued by companies for complaining online.
Read full article here: Yelp Sues Law Firm for ‘Fake’ Good Reviews
Bad reviews on Yelp have become major fodder for lawsuits against reviewers — mainly for defamation — and have attracted anti-SLAPP legislation aimed at preventing attempts to shut down debate about public matters. A SLAPP is a “strategic lawsuit against public participation.”
But Yelp’s law suit in this case is a totally different creature, indicates Evan Mascagni, an attorney with the California Anti-SLAPP Project in Berkeley. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that Yelp has filed such a case,” Mascagni says.
And it’s probably not a SLAPP, so the firm isn’t likely to use California’s anti-SLAPP law as a defense. “At first read, this doesn’t seem to be a SLAPP,” Mascagni notes. “SLAPPs are meritless lawsuits that some individuals and businesses use as weapons against those who petition the government or speak out on public issues.”
“Here, it does not appear that Yelp filed this lawsuit with the intent to chill the free speech rights of the law firm,” he says. “Rather, this lawsuit appears to be an attempt by Yelp to maintain the credibility of the consumer reviews on its website by ensuring that such reviews are real and honest.”

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First Business: Yelp Help
The politics of internet review site Yelp are more complicated than you might think. Chuck Coppola reports.
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