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    Wayne Crookes Reportedly Sues Me Over My Blogroll

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    Tuesday May 29, 2007
    There are several reports (here, here, and here) that Wayne Crookes, who previously launched suits against a wide range of parties including Wikipedia, Yahoo, and a domain name registrar, has sued me in B.C. courts for defamation.  I have not been served with the suit, but the reports indicate that I am being sued for an allegedly defamatory third party comment on my site that I took down and for writing about, and linking to, P2PNet.net, which in turn linked to another site that allegedly contained a defamatory posting.  In other words, I'm reportedly being sued for maintaining a blogroll that links to a site that links to a site that contains some allegedly defamatory third party comments.
    Comments (30)add comment

    Aaron said:

    Mr
    Wow, I'd like to wish you good luck and offer you support.

    However, I can't since I don't want to be sued!!
    May 29, 2007

    Tom Poe said:

    ...
    Excellent! Please keep us posted. This will be a most interesting contributory liability case, and it's important to me to know whether or not I'm facilitating defamation of anyone when I log onto the Internet. :)

    By the way, where does crookes get the money to bring all these lawsuits?
    May 29, 2007

    LibelReformer said:

    ...
    And now you get to spend a lot of money to prove your innocence. What a lovely libel system we've got going here.
    May 29, 2007

    Whatheheck said:

    ...
    The irony is, I hadn't heard of Mr. Crookes until he started suing everyone.

    How is this not exactly like a bully on the playground that threatens to punch you if you don't stop calling him a bully?
    May 29, 2007

    No one in particular said:

    very irrelevant

    Things this ridiculous have a way of working themselves out. Anyone can file suits, but either he won't be able to find counsel to proceed with most of the more ridiculous claims, he'll run out of money, or a judge will tell him in no uncertain terms where to go. If it escalates much beyond that, he will have stepped on a broad enough spectrum of interests that the problem will eventually solve itself anyway when he accidentally falls off a building onto a pile of bullets or something. Either way, no great loss.
    May 30, 2007

    Korrin said:

    ...
    On the good side, it might be nice to set a precedent decision on the level of responsibility attributed for online publishers (or republishers) regarding such content. If it comes out that this sort of posting doesn't carry liability to all linkers, then it may have a chilling effect on this kind of over-litigious behavior.

    Since you haven't been served yet, I don't need to wish you luck, but in the event such documents arrive, I hope you, and a reasonable judge send him packing with haste.
    May 30, 2007

    Roman Pearce said:

    ...
    Can Canadian courts declare this guy to be a vexatious litigant ?
    May 30, 2007

    SpacePunk said:

    Know it all
    Looks like this Crookes fellow has no idea how the intertubes works.
    May 30, 2007

    a guest said:

    ssu
    At least in the US, there are, oh gosh, what's the term? Let me use an example. Lets say a man in a car gets spooked by a horse at the side of the road. He crashes into a vegitable stand. The man in the vegitable stand can sue the driver of the car for neglagance, but he could not sue the owner of the horse for damages. In effect what is happening here is that Mr Crookes is not sueing the driver, or even the owner of the horse, but the person who sold the horse to its current owner in the first place. I would really be surprised if this does not get thrown out of court.
    May 30, 2007

    fair_n_hite_451 said:

    ...
    As a large portion of the /. crowd are suggesting, Crookes is erring by not sueing Google. I mean, they link to everyone, so obviously they are even more culpable than you.

    No offence Michael, but searching around on your site to find the old posts concerning this ... not easy. not hard, but not easy.

    Searching Google to find the same stuff, only links directly to the original stories and posts that have his knickers in a knot? 3 words and 1 mouse click.

    heh.
    May 30, 2007

    Robert A. said:

    ...
    ssu writes, "what's the term?" (followed by an example...

    Perhaps the term is "transitive", defined in set theory as:

    Of a relation R on a set S, such that if xRy and yRz, then xRz for all members x, y and z of S.
    May 30, 2007

    Michael Nixon said:

    ...
    Hi there,
    I believe the legal term you're looking for is "remoteness", which is a defense to negligence, as in the horse spooks man situation cited above. Presumably Crookes is bringing a libel case to court, working on the assumption than putting someone in your blogroll is tantamount to endorsing their statements and thus libelous in nature.
    I too hope the judge throws this out. Shenanigans I say!
    May 30, 2007

    Zoinks! said:

    Sir Zoinks!
    what's a "blogroll" ?
    May 30, 2007

    Brendan said:

    Blogroll
    Blogroll is the term someone unnecessarily made up for what was previously called a links section.
    May 30, 2007

    Waylander said:

    Re: Blogroll
    "Blogroll is the term someone unnecessarily made up for what was previously called a links section."

    ...just as Wayne Crookes is someone the Universe unnecessarily made up for what was previously called an attention whore.

    Actually, he does serve a purpose; a guy like this is the sort of good excuse everyday people need to get off their apathetic intellectual butts and take notice of. His message isn't really important, other than acting as a bright torch of anti-intellectualism that encourages us to act against. It's good to see who stays strong against this clown (apoligies to any real clowns that see this as libelous by association), and good reason to encourage those who cave to find their footing (as openpolitics.ca seems to have done by way of apologizing).

    It's sadly not true that "everybody hates a bully" (Bush, by being elected a 2nd time, put the final nail in that coffin), but hopefully the BC courts will dismiss this marginal individual (which, to me, seems more mean and perhaps juvenile than libelous, but its hard to tell nowadays) with a scolding, and hopefully the victims of this sort of puritanical paranoia won't be put out of pocket too severely.
    May 30, 2007

    Michael Pilling said:

    openpolitics.ca
    I'm sorry Michael, that this nuisance has now come upon your doorstep. I saw that post and don't doubt that the commenter, who is almost certainly the same individual who posted on my site, was libel-baiting and testing you.

    We should recall though that Mr. Crookes is acting within his rights under the traditional interpretation and jurisprudence of libel. And that, as we know is the problem. Crookes is not "evil and stupid" the law is.


    PS. I would invite waylander to consider the difference between posting an apology, (which I did) and removing the "fair comment" postings about him (which i did not, unlike rabble.ca, and was the first one to be sued).
    May 30, 2007

    man-o-man said:

    frig em
    Can't you guys counter sue for for damages, stress and so forth that this fribulous archaich suite is doing to people?
    May 30, 2007

    jailhouselawyer said:

    What\'s a blogroll?
    Toilet tissue?
    May 31, 2007

    a guest said:

    IMHO
    As I understand it, republishing a libel is naughty, a rule in English Common law that dates back hundreds of years:

    [ link ]

    In principle republication of a defamatory statement is itself a libel.

    It is no defence to say that what is published is merely a repetition of a statement that was previously published and that did not incur prosecution. In principle every person who repeats or republishes a defamatory statement faces the same liability. . .
    May 31, 2007

    Georgine said:

    ...
    Does anyone know how many have been sued by Crooks to date? I mean since the whole green party thing went down and it all started?
    June 01, 2007

    Mediakahuna said:

    ...
    So, Crookes is suing the Internet for defamation of character... Offhand, I'd say that alone is more conducive to people considering him a horse's ass than anything written about him by anyone else.
    June 05, 2007

    Whimsical Monkey said:

    How is this different?
    "How is this not exactly like a bully on the playground that threatens to punch you if you don't stop calling him a bully?"

    How is this not exactly like a nice kid on the playground that threatens to punch you if you don't stop calling him a bully?

    That's the problem: on the intertubes, there is no difference.
    June 18, 2007

    Craig Hubley said:

    will lawsuits determine what political i
    Having reviewed the suit filed in BC, I note that Mr. Geist is being sued for a signed post on this blog that expressed my own honestly held opinion and personal analysis of the former political situation in the Green Party of Canada. It's quite a bit milder than some of the comments above.

    I have no particular prejudice nor malice to Mr. Crookes. Even after he had filed suit against me, I sought his input for an open letter on the Federal Accountability Act. I have repeatedly offered to correct any error of fact he can point to in any page of both livingplatform.ca (which I published) and openpolitics.ca. I apologized in my open letter for any escalation of the matter attributable to me prior to that date (June 2006).

    As I clearly stated in that letter,
    all these controversies regard the many objections to his being both a lender to a party and simultaneously supervising its spending. Metaphor and historical analogy aside, Bill C-54, which recently died in committee, would have sharply curtailed personal loans by individuals to politicians.

    So, obviously, this at least remains a current political issue worthy of discussion, and that discussion must include examples of problems caused by such conflicts. Attempting to control the terms in which his conflict is discussed has in my opinion backfired on Mr. Crookes. As many people note, they didn't hear of him until the lawsuits, and others who were open to his view, including myself, have become less so lately.

    This could have been prevented. I made numerous overtures to Mr. Crookes to resolve the situation and offered binding arbitration and intervene to negotiate other private solutions that would preserve privacy of himself, of political commentators critical of him, and avoid criticism spreading to his company, which was never criticized (but which Crookes has himself involved as a plaintiff).

    I became much less open to Mr. Crookes' view after he refused, after he began to demand that forums used by his political opponents (notably the gpc-members yahoogroup) be shut down, and as his lawsuits and demands mounted. It became obvious to me that he sought to control a political debate and expose all of his critics and opponents by name, which free societies discourage (why we have secret ballots). He also sought to have records not just hidden but altered or destroyed, which both Mr. Pilling and I agreed was unacceptable when livingplatform.ca (published by me) transferred its data to openpolitics.ca (published by him). Accurate records protect everybody.

    So, I must disagree with Mr. Pilling that Crookes is "acting within his rights under the traditional interpretation and jurisprudence of libel." Those rights do not include suppression or altering of records nor fishing expeditions exposing all sources. To characterize political debates as malicious simply because they are disapproving of certain people holding power is also abusive: Opposing someone politically and disapproving of their political action is not malicious, unless every political activist and challenger is malicious. To radically extend liability claims to persons who merely mention that a document exists (i.e. link to it) or have merely moved bits without having an opportunity to have modified them, or who have done nothing but respect privacy laws and conventions when an allegation remains unproven, is also not part of the jurisprudence of libel. This is more like suing the printer and delivery boy for what the newspaper says. It's been done, yes, but that doesn't make it traditional.

    The common law, at least as it has evolved in accord with democratic principles in the UK and other places, also does not allow systematic suppression of whole topics, issues or debates. This is clearly against the public interest.

    Mr. Crookes has argued that he is not doing that, but Mr. Geist has argued that his suits may be a threat to free speech in general. I frankly believe that Mr. Crookes is suing Mr. Geist for disagreeing with him on an overt political issue, to mute his political voice. If this is not his intent, then why is he not suing say slashdot and other forums which have hosted low opinions of Mr. Crookes ?

    Once lawsuits determine what we can talk about politically, we are done as a democracy.

    Accordingly, I offer my affadavit or any other evidence of use to Michael Geist in defending against Crookes, as long as it does not compromise the principles above.
    June 22, 2007

    Luigi Trull said:

    Auditor in Chef
    Defamation laws are meant to be a way for individuals to have the means to defend themselves against powerful, malicious critics. But this makes little sense when we bring arguments to the web, since the web gives everyone the same power: to post your own unpopular opinions to your own blogs.

    Suing people who merely link to articles or who post facts and fair criticisms is suppression of free speech, especially if they give the opportunity for individuals to add their own comments or correct inaccuracies. If it isn't truth, and isn't political satire, then take it down.

    Suing Google over something like this is idiotic. Google links to everything, so they, and the Internet, should be treated as a common carrier. They are content-neutral: they exercise no editorial control and cannot check factual accuracy.
    July 02, 2007

    Jon F Klaus said:

    ...
    Now Mr. Geist...is it not rather funny/ironic that you endorsed another lawyer in the Ottawa Citizen (article by Dan Butler) in and about July 12-17/07. Richard is also another failed runner for the Green Party and also in Ottawa? He worked for the CHRC...?

    He and the CHRC have tried to shut down other internet sites for comments "others" have also posted in.
    August 04, 2007

    found on the net said:

    trying to control links by suing
    This article on a suit by AP also mentions Wayne Crookes, since he like AP is trying to control links by suing those who link.

    http://q8-downloads.com/5547/news/p2pnet/ap-lawsuit-threatens-the-net.html

    "“In Canada, Crookes has achieved a virtual media freeze, on and offline,” said p2pnet.

    “Afraid of being added to his list of victims, print and electronic publications are conspicuous because they’re carefully avoiding mention of the case which is, of course, exactly what Crookes wants.”

    Now, “Unfortunately, an AP win here could ultimately subject the entire concept of linking on the Internet to a new legal standard, especially links to news stories and blog posts,” Ord posts , going on:

    If fair use becomes “permission linking” then much of the Internet could be challenged.

    The AP seems to think it has a monopoly on high quality content. A legal standard based on this case would mean all linking is subject to approval by the party being linked to."
    February 11, 2008

    Freedom Fighter said:

    What was defamatory?
    I am confused about the basis of this lawsuit promulgated by Wayne Crookes. In the article about "Defamation" in Wikipedia I read (past tense): "In common law jurisdictions, slander refers to a malicious, false,[2] and defamatory spoken statement or report, while libel refers to any other form of communication such as written words or images." So is Crookes saying that the allegations about him, hyperlinked by Open Politics, were false? Shouldn't that be the subject of a potential lawsuit, not -- who hyperlinked the "supposed" defamatory information? Come on, Canada, we are not that stupid to think that the poor newspaper hawker on the sidewalk is liable for libel when all he did is sell you a newspaper that happened to contain defamatory content? I can't believe that the SC will accept such frivolity!
    December 12, 2010

    Internet Censorship said:

    publisher or pointer?
    Wayne Crookes (insert link to defamatory comment here); Oh my bad, it seems I should seek legal council. In all seriousness, the user who hyperlinks to content on another web site is not the author, creator, owner of any of the material that is being linked. The material that is being "referred to" "suggested" etc through the link is only valid in context the exact time it was linked; due to the fact that the material can be completely altered and the "linker" would be unaware of any alterations, postings etc after the hyperlink was created. So does this mean that we are responsible for all past and future content of all possible publishers and editors of content we do not have any legal rights too(ownership, copyright, intellectual property) control? What about what the that media source hyperlinks? This would be a sad day for free speech and free internet. Lets give this a non internet example, if I were to say that you should read the New York Times does that mean that I can be sued for any material past, present or future published by the new york times, their subsidiaries and all possible partners that could be deaned defamatory to any individual? I guess we should all sue one another, have no opinion and ban communication.
    December 21, 2010

    Chris said:

    ...
    The outrageousness of some people is unbelievable - Wayne Crook's suits should be de-facto dismissed and he should be fined for wasting public resources. People such as him are the Cancer of western societies.

    Hopefully you won't get sued over my opinion - I see this unfortunate type of behaviour just too often in our legal system, and shows how sick it is. Then again, one may argue this is an isolated incident, but the fact is there are tons of suits like this clogging the civil courts, where money unfortunately, more often than not, wins over right.

    Welcome to the Rule of Lawyers and the Cause for the Decadence of the West, folks.
    April 27, 2011

    daddy's diva said:

    Doe's Mr Crookes a FLORIDA CONNECTION to sovereign citizens movement ?
    Does Mr Crookes have connections /family on Cortez or Quadra Island ?
    October 18, 2011

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