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Man loses another lawsuit over stuff posted about him online in Somerville

A federal judge today dismissed a lawsuit by Jonathan Monsarrat over postings in a Somerville community forum, saying the forum's moderator did nothing wrong or defamatory when he moved the entire discussion group from a server owned by Russians to one based in the US.

Monsarrat sued Ron Newman (ed. note: Yes, our Ron Newman) last year, three years after Newman moved what had been the Davis Square LiveJournal forum to a new server rather than see the forum subject to Russian censorship laws.

The move, Monsarrat charged, meant that Newman had taken ownership of several posts Monsarrat alleged were defamatory and that he was therefore legally liable for them.

US District Court Judge Richard Stearns, however, wrote that simply changing Web hosts did not mean that Newman, who did not write the posts, had become their owner and that he was protected under a federal law, commonly called Section 230, that shields people or companies who run online forums from legal actions over what other people might post in those discussion groups.

Here, Monsarrat fails to plausibly allege that Newman participated in the creation or development of the allegedly defamatory statements. Indeed, in his opposition, he concedes that "Newman did not originally compose or write any of the original defamatory statements” but instead merely "copie[d] . . . defamatory statements published many years ago."

Monsarrat also charged that Newman violated Monsarrat's copyright on something he himself posted in the forum by moving it to the new server:

Monsarrat post demanding content be removed from forum

Stearns ruled that Monsarrat was legally wrong with this claim as well. Newman was covered under copyright "fair use" to move the posting to a new server because he was not publishing it on a new site for the same reason as Monsarrat and, in fact, he was posting it for a completely different reason: Rather than trying to inform other users about LiveJournal's harassment policy, which would not apply on the new site, Newman had moved it "solely for historical and preservationist purposes." Also, "Monsarrat’s post, moreover, was just one of several hundred posts copied by Newman and was not used to promote traffic to the new website."

The post largely repeats the LiveJournal harassment policy, a factual matter, and the court cannot reasonably infer under these circumstances that the warning in the final paragraph, for contributors to delete their posts in light of this policy, transformed otherwise factual matter into “a creative work enjoying broader copyright protection.”

And finally, Stearns wrote, there was no indication Newman was making any money off the newly relocated post.

There is no plausible market for the copyrighted post and thus no likelihood that Newman’s reproduction could have any harmful market consequences.

It's Monsarrat's second lawsuit over postings in the forum - he agreed to drop the first, which charged Newman, as well as a Somerville Journal reporter and 100 unnamed LiveJournal users, with defamation. In 2017, a judge dismissed another suit he brought against a separate Web site.

PDF icon Complete ruling202.32 KB


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Going after Ron Newman of all people. Who does Ron bother? He’s just a nice guy who likes to ride his bike and not start shit online.


Voting closed 7

This guy has failed to win lawsuits against even the people who said things about him that he didn't like, so he's trying his luck up the chain.

Now something changed, so he's trying another angle.

I don't think he has yet sued the Cambridge PD over the police report, though.

Some flavor for this: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130517/02413623115/bogus-lawsuit-plu...

Not sure why any lawyers are taking his cases anymore.

This is an interesting piece, too: https://www.linkedin.com/in/monsarrat/

Voting closed 18

you can put anything you want on LinkedIn.

Voting closed 7

This is what the guy himself is trying to tell the world.

Voting closed 9

Was that link to his LinkedIn profile what you meant to post? I don't see a "piece" there.

Voting closed 7

Truly a masterwork and view into the mind of a person who would continue to bring these sorts of lawsuits.

One would think it wouldn't be worth his amazing accomplished time.

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That’s a suin’

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he's going to sue Adam now.

I thought we'd heard the last of that [censored].

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For better or worse, Massachusetts journalists are protected by a legal doctrine that makes it a lot harder to sue (well, to win a suit) over articles that fairly report official statements and documents, such as, oh, court records and filings. It's been upheld by both state and federal courts.

Voting closed 7

Apparently this guy has never heard of Barbra Streisand.

Also: https://abovethelaw.com/2017/10/the-pedobear-motion-practice-youve-been-...

Voting closed 8

I mean, Jon is a turd and this is a frivolous lawsuit. Let's get that out of the way first.

But this is the first time I've seen a judge address the question of whether moving a discussion board from one place to another is an action which is governed by copyright, and whether fair use applies to that action.

Not being trained in law, I would have framed this situation to myself as a question of whether the maintainers of a community on Livejournal were implicitly granted consent to copy and perform the comments and posts submitted to the community, just as Livejournal received a license more explicitly under its Terms of Use (and of course implicitly via the act of posting). Or alternatively, whether the community is *separable* from LJ, and receives that implicit consent, and therefore can carry it to a new hosting platform. I suspect the latter would likely be held up in court, but it's interesting that fair use covered it already as a "historical archive" without going into any of that.

Voting closed 4

The global natures of the internet, web, deep web and dark web have introduced issues that current laws are incompetent to clearly address. It is as though laws concerning horse pulled carriages were considered all that is necessary to govern a world of automobiles, trucks, etc. (not unlike Biblical literalists insisting that 2,000 year old instructions are absolute in their modern applicability).

While human beings do not fundamentally change technology never stops changing. Although even with human beings our understanding of what it means to be human does change (e.g. bodily humors versus viruses and bacteria).

Will a Senate where The Grim Reaper is not a satrap and a House that is still capable of simultaneously walking and chewing gum manage to realize that laws concerning the internet need a vast reform? Given the ability of the various webs to be used as forums for lies, deceits and fomenting insurrection what laws can be passed that 1) are still founded in the 1st Amendment but 2) put the kibosh on the proverbial judicial yelling fire in a crowded auditorium?

Voting closed 8

Every time this dickfuck does something like this it just pisses me off that he still owes me > $1000 in consulting fees.

Voting closed 7

Post Ouroboros: "Universal Hub links to us, we link back to Adam"

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