April 28, 2006

I’LL BE TALKING (BY VIDEO) at the Harvard Blog conference in a few minutes. My topic is libel and bloggers, and I just ran across this piece by Ed Cone entitled How Not to Fight a Web War that goes nicely with my theme. Excerpt:

A New York ad agency, Warren Kremer Paino Advertising, has filed a seven-figure lawsuit against a Maine blogger.

Here’s a version of events by the blogger, Lance Dutson of the Maine Web Report; here’s the lawsuit; here’s media-critic Jeff Jarvis’ take; and here’s how the Boston Globe reported it.

Even if the complaint has merit — and from my superficial understanding of the case, at least parts of it are questionable — is this a smart strategy for any company to take when confronted with a hostile blogger?

A relatively unknown gadfly was irritating the agency and its client, the Maine Office of Tourism. Now Dutson is a cause celebre in the blogosphere, and his allegations about the agency and the tourism department are headed for very wide distribution.

Already, the first Google page in a search for “Warren Kremer Paino Advertising ” shows entries from the Maine Web Report, but not the agency’s own homepage — and I’d guess that Google front page is going to get uglier for WKP in the weeks ahead.

The agency and its client look like bullies for trying to outspend and outlawyer an independent writer.

You’d think an advertising agency would be brighter than that. The Media Bloggers Association has much more on the subject. I suspect that a lot of bloggers will be looking closely at WKPA, and the Maine tourism office, in coming days and weeks, and perhaps we’ll learn a lot more about what’s going on.

UPDATE: Comments on my appearance as a Big Giant Head can be found here. They had me on a huge screen behind the panel, reminding me of the Big Giant Head character from Third Rock. Or, if you prefer, that 1984 Macintosh commercial.