I'll be looking into the internet case law this month, however my initial take goes something like this. Because an internet board is a written medium the tort (cause of action) would be libel (and not slander). Civil lawsuits are often based on actions that violate existing criminal laws (battery/assault) or civil laws (in Connecticut we have something called the "lemon law" regulating car sales and you could use this statute as the basis for a civil cause of action) however in Connecticut commiting libel or slander by itself is not inherently illegal though it is actionable, someone can sue you for the damages you have caused to their reputation though you have violated no statute. This would be based on the "common law" i.e. such an action has been recognized for hundreds of years and while statutes may now govern part of it (in Ct before suing someone for libel you have to write them giving an opportunity to take back their statement which influences what can be recovered in damages.) libel and slander are not illegal per se.
Now the biggest issue is what words consist of libel or slander as verses vulgarity. If I tell phrost he is a fucking asshole that is a vulgarity and not actionable. If I say Phrost is a child molester that implies a particular underlying act that is defamatory because it implies he has committed a very nasty felony. The context could also conceivably alter whether a statement is a vulgarity or defamatory (either libel or slander) For example on this board I say that Asia and I had a homosexual affair, its a vulgarity given the context and no one takes it seriously. however if I sent an e-mail to Asia's commanding officer making the same statement it would be libel because it states he has committed an action that violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice (did I get its name right?)
Based on my sense of word usage on this board it would not be hard to defend using the word McDojo in reference to a particular school because the term is vague and has different meanings including the school produces crummy martial artists which appears to be a vulgarity. (akin to saying "you suck") Saying that someone committed fraud however implies a specific action, possibly including a criminal aspect, that in my judgement would probably be defamitory if it was not true (truth being a defense to a action for defamation). Lawyers fight about this stuff all the time, and the plaintiff in a lawsuit for defamation has the burden of proving his case by a preponderance of the evidence (anything more then 50.00%) but using the word fraud without evidence makes me quite nervous. For example I only use this word in reference to people like Frank Dux since the L.A. Times basically proved that he he lied about his past military record and the whole 'blood sport' tournment.
Now one really can't start an action against an unknown party without knowing their name. So the choice would be (game plan A) to sue Bullshido and say that you are also suing Black Belt Now whose real name will become known in the process of discovery. This could get rather involved so what I would probably do if I was on the other side is (game plan B) attempt to subpeona Phrost for the IP address of BBN first and if his lawyer tried to quash the subpeona I would then file suit against Phrost directly using game plan A driving his legal bills through the roof. Bottom line is that once I got the IP and possibly other information, BBN could be located and then a suit could be filed. Since DRD has been through this process once he understands its mechanics better then I do but the since DRD has been there I have no doubt the information could be obtained.
Last edited by Sam Browning; 1/01/2004 5:08pm at .