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tainbo Feb 24th, 2001 04:11 PM

I would like Fodor's to provide some information and guidance, in light of a recent posting, as follows (and I quote, verbatim) <BR> <BR>Message: For what ever reason, it appears that you have taken upon yourself to become the 'stand-in' moderator of this forum. It may be against the rules of this forum to post advertisements, but it is equally ILLEGAL to make false accusations against any commerical organization (whatever the medium). This kind of activity is grounds for a lawsuit. Perhaps no one has enlightened you to this fact. Records can be obtained from Fodors prodiving <BR> your IP address (which by the way, will reveal <BR> that you post and respond to your own messages). If I were you, I would be very careful. <BR> <BR> Regards, <BR> John Edwards <BR> CASE Learning Systems <BR> <BR> <BR>It is my understanding that, although the Fodor's Web site may be able to track the REAL ID of the contributor, this information is NOT published or available to above, except under extraordinary circumstances. <BR> <BR>FODORS must be aware of what these extraordinary conditions and circumstances are and should, if they have not done so already, publish the guidelines regarding: <BR> <BR>- Posting information to a site: for those that post notes under an alias - how private is the posting and is it possible for another contributor to find the real id <BR>- Your (FODORS.COM) requirement to reveal REAL ids in case of lawsuits <BR>- The ISP's requirement to reveal REAL ids in case of lawsuits <BR>- The above person/company's ability to have access to the information (re REAL id) <BR>- The enforcement (or perhaps unenforceability) of laws, such as Libel, defamation etc <BR> <BR>I believe that I know the answer to all of the above, but I think a certain note posted recently (above) is likely to concern a number of potential contributors. In addition, I would suggest that, if the information provided in the above note is erroneous, then FODOR's administrators remove it. <BR> <BR>Regards <BR> <BR>

Puck Feb 24th, 2001 04:24 PM

Very interesting. <BR> <BR>Why would someone enquire of the enforcability of libel and defamation laws unless ... <BR> <BR>... unless they were interested in libeling and defaming. <BR> <BR>Is that what Fodors has become?

tainbo Feb 24th, 2001 04:42 PM

Absolutely the opposite, PUCK! <BR> <BR>I am concerned that the note I read will discourage people from posting notes (in case someone can grab their id), providing information on questionable sites/propositions/satisfaction/whatever <BR> <BR>I do understand the freedom of the 'net and was concerned that the posting would discourage others from sharing valuable information with contributors. <BR>

s.fowler Feb 24th, 2001 04:57 PM

Folks. Calm down. <BR> <BR>First: Fodor's has a privacy policy posted at: <BR> <BR>Second: as an admninstrator with access to server logs on several "boxes" -- it is possible to trace your ISP from the logs, and sometimes more, BUT .. and PLEASE hear me ... first -- the information is not as complete as you think and second -- GETTING it out of a server log has to be worth someone's time. <BR> <BR>What I am trying to say is that, given the nature of server logs, you have to have a GOOD reason to want to spend the time to extract the information you want. <BR> <BR>From what experience do I speak? A "box" I am on was one of the "relay points" for last year's "denial of service" attack on CNN. Trust me. It took HOURS to find to information that the authorities were requesting.

StCirq Feb 24th, 2001 06:24 PM

As a host on a Delphi Forum, I know that is possible for the site administrators to track down the ISP of an offending poster. But believe me, it's not done unless there is an offense that is considered very, very serious - that might include repeated spamming, threatening messages, stalking behavior, or other behavior that seems to threaten the posters. BUT, it can be done. Whenever you post something, somewhere, someone, can trace you.

kelly Feb 24th, 2001 07:27 PM

Can somebody trace that annoying guy Victor P. who keeps writing stuff on Giverny threads about a hailer or something. MAKE HIM STOP!! lol.

Christina Feb 24th, 2001 08:13 PM

yes, you can track down an IP but at what specificity and level of detail does this identify someone? Can you simply identify the service provider or the exact person? For example, I've read knowledgeable-sounding articles by a tech expert with a regular column in the local newspaper (Washington Post) who said that, for example, if you are on AOL, you do not have a specific IP assigned to you, you get a new one randomly assigned when you dial-up (part of the digits mean AOL, the rest are randomly assigned)? If this is true (and this expert writes regularly and at a very technical level), someone posting on here from AOL could not be identified, only that it came from AOL. Any further examination would require enlisting the services of AOL, I suppose, and their logs for that day by time (I'm presuming the person would not conveniently leave their real email address). This article also said that was the case for other ISPs that people use from home by subscription from a dialup modem, that usually only people with their own dedicated lines or businesses have a specifically-identifiable IP that directs to a unique person rather than a company or service. Any comments from the guys who know this stuff, like sfowler? (tracking down the ISP as StCirq says you can do isn't much use as most ISPS have thousands of customers, but that is exactly my point, finding out the ISP is not useful) I've always been curious about this issue as you hear so many different things. Somebody on that Case original post claims it was illegal to send a letter without full postage, which is pretty ridiculous as I've done it several times by accident and was not arrested (most recently in January when the rates changes and I wasn't aware of the date). Given that libel would be a civil suit, I'm not sure why anyone would look that information up for someone unless they were paid a lot, and maybe not even then, not sure of the ramifications of that. I mean if John Doe says I would like to sue xxx on Fodors because they said my tours were a gyp (which I advertised on this forum even though I'm not allowed to), why would Fodors, or AOL if it got to that point, do that work for the person? I guess John Doe would then somehow have to threaten to sue Fodors if they didn't do it, although I'm not sure for what -- I guess participating in the libel, although they wouldn't be participating, just not turning over information for the lawsuit. Wonder if there's any lawyers around who know on what basis Fodors could be forced to turn over such information for a civil suit. All of the other cases I've heard about on this issue (tracking down IPs) were federal cases, like securities fraud or hacking and damaging information or accessing secret govt. stuff or whatever. Actually, this is an interesting topic when you think about it--have you ever heard anywhere in the US at any time since the internet began ANYONE being successfully sued for libel regarding something they said on an internet BB or forum? I haven't, but would be interested in hearing the details and outcome if there ever were such a suit. I have heard about people who are running web sites and printing articles themselves, like Matt Drudge, being sued. That guy was obviously just making that up to scare someone, but I found it funny that he didn't contact Fodors to remove that post instead (as I had never heard of him so I pulled it up to read, it was right there and probably still is.

xxx Feb 24th, 2001 09:17 PM

Dynamically assigned IP addresses work vaguely like you imply, but AOL does have records (even if hard to access) that can identify what account got what IP address at what hour, for each given (dial-up) session. My ISP (which is not AOL) does the same thing, and I am sure that givem the right reasons, my ISP could reveal that my account was in use on what IP address at any given hour. That doesn't answer who (of the numerous authorized users of my account) was logged in. <BR> <BR>If you access the internet through a larger institutional (network) system, the trace may or may not be harder to conduct. At times, I access this site from a number of "public" computers where I work (in lounge areas, for example), and there is NO record of who uses those computers in those areas. Even so, patterns of use, especially when one uses the same or similar names would make identification easier than one might suppose. <BR> <BR>None of this should be construed as endorsement of posting messages you wouldn't want linked to you and your identity, or your spouse, mother or employer. There are various reasons to post anonymously; not being civil is an unacceptable reason to cloak yourself. <BR>

Cindy Oct 11th, 2001 02:35 PM

Can someone update me on the circumstances surrounding the posting of the original message tainbo writes about? <BR> <BR>Thanks.

Legal Oct 11th, 2001 04:17 PM

Christina: <BR>The reason would be that the the forum is publishing and diseminating the false information. By letting you state any libel you want, they are speading it to anyone who reads their forum. That is called publishing a libel. <BR>However internet chat rooms have been made exempt from these libel laws a "good samaritan law". The Telecommunications Act of 1996.(47USC230). This was a response to the case of Stratton Oakmont, Inc v Prodigy Computer Services Inc. (NY Superior Court-1995.). Try reading Zeran v AOL for a very egredious case since then. 129 F.3d327(4th Circuit)1997. You can find info on these on the net. <BR>Basically the forum cannot be sued for libel of slander done by posters. <BR> This of course does not mean that the poster cannot be held liable for his libels. And, of course, he should be. There is nothing magical about the internet that protects you from being responsible for your lies. Any more than you would be in any other communication.

Lega Oct 11th, 2001 04:22 PM

Christina: <BR>PS. The suing party could almost surely get a court discovery order to disclose the libelous party's identity, if they could get it.

Art Oct 11th, 2001 04:34 PM

Cindy, this posting was a response to several fodorites stating that they had ordered language tapes from case learning systems and had no received them or been very unhappy with them. Also said vender was advertising on the forum. <BR>

Capo Oct 11th, 2001 04:47 PM

Legal, interesting information, thank you. <BR> <BR>For three years I posted on a message board run by a popular FM radio station in Seattle. Then, with one day of warning last fall, the station shut it down citing "legal liabilities." At the time I was curious as to exactly what kind of liabilities the station, as host of the website, might face, so I did some web searching and found out that other websites had been shut down for the same reason, concern over legal liabilities, and yet I couldn't find any information specifying exactly what those liabilties may, or may not, be. <BR> <BR>You say that "Basically the forum cannot be sued for libel of slander done by posters." but don't you really mean a forum can be <I>sued</I> -- as long as there's an attorney willing to take it up -- but probably won't be held liable? When someone sues, don't they often sue anyone and everyone, in large part under the "deep pockets" concept? I'm presuming, in the case of this radio station, they didn't even want to deal with the <I>possibility</I> of having to defend themself in a lawsuit so they just decided to pull the plug altogether. <BR>

oneoftheculprits Oct 11th, 2001 07:22 PM

I was one of the culprits that this man was threatening. It seems that he kept advertising his language tapes on the forum and refused to stop. So several of us started posting replies to his posts. We claimed that his business was a fraud, he had cheated us, etc. It was also suggested that we all send him empty envelopes to his address which he put in the ads and attach a one cent stamp to the envelope without any return address. Apparently those letters were all received by him with 32cents postage due on each of them (or whatever the postage was at that time). This was all in an effort to get him to stop posting his ads. Guess what. It worked. But meanwhile he posted that threatening message above.

Legal Oct 11th, 2001 09:41 PM

Capo. That was a first year law student type of error on my part. Yes anyone can sue.(Although the penalties for frivolous lawsuits are getting pretty tough these days.) Let me guess, Capo, that what that radio station did was before the Telecommunications act of 1996. Or maybe, like you said, it was not worth the aggevation to them. <BR>oneoftheculprits: <BR>Before that CASE guy throws out threats he should talk to his legal department(if he has one). It did seem to work to get the post removed though.

xxx Oct 12th, 2001 10:10 AM

ttt <BR>Why hasn't this thread been removed? <BR>Did the censor get the day off?

Capo Oct 12th, 2001 11:00 AM

Thanks for the followup, Legal. The radio station pulled the plug on their message board almost one year ago exactly, so long after the Telecommunications Act of 1996. So, I suspect they didn't want to risk even the possibility of a lawsuit. <BR> <BR>I didn't realized that penalties for frivolous lawsuits are getting stronger than they were before; that's interesting. (Not sure what constitutes a "frivolous" lawsuit, though.) <BR> <BR>Anyway, I appreciate the information.

Christina Oct 12th, 2001 12:44 PM

gee, thanks for all the legal advice even though my ponderings were from over 6 months ago--I almost didn't read this but found it interesting. IN the meantime, I had read somewhere in the paper about that law that exempts websites/forums whatever from libel laws, so I knew Fodors couldn't be held liable. No legal eagle answered whether it was actually illegal to send something to someone postage due, which is a trival point, I'll agree (I think he made that statement in a different thread), but interesting. I wouldn't ever do such a thing myself and I know I have sent things postage due by mistake with no ill consequences, but that sounds kind of funny to me as if you don't want stuff postage due, I thought you don't have to accept it.

Legal Oct 12th, 2001 12:59 PM

Capo: <BR>If you haven't already, I suggest you take a look at the Zeran v AOL case. The plaintiff/victim is located in Seattle, Washington! This case can be easily found on the net. or try http// From this case it's hard to see what your radio station was worried about. <BR>Christina: <BR>Sorry, I did not see the date on your post and I never say the original thread talked about. Strange how this thread got bak to the top.

Travel Girl Oct 12th, 2001 08:43 PM

Was it this guy? <BR> <BR>was it John Edwards who was posting the advertisements about the tapes? The envelope and backlash sounded kindof funny to me. <BR> <BR>TG

Bystander Oct 13th, 2001 05:25 AM

What a bunch of hooey. I have no sympathy for Mr. Edwards if he abused this forum to promote his company, and even less if he responds to other people's "abuse" of the forum by leveling threats. What's sauce for the goose...... it was a risk of his way of doing "business." <BR> <BR>He must be a piece of work, and it's too bad I don't have any use for language tapes (if I did, I'd use the ones I can get from the Dept. of State) because I'd like to not-use his. Jerk.

vera Oct 14th, 2001 04:34 PM

very interesting....

ohoh Oct 14th, 2001 05:27 PM

Regarding the radio station's website - the entire radio industry has had difficulty figuring out exactly what to do with their websites. Saying they were concerned about liability may have been the neatest way out of a situation they couldn't control anymore. They may have been worried that someone wrote in that he/she was participating in the radio ratings survey...if a competitor saw it (and believe me, competitors monitor each others' message boards) they could be "turned in" for tampering and as a result advertisers & agencies wouldn't trust that their ratings were as high as they were over a given sweeps period. That's just one possibility. These guys are REALLY competitive. And now about 80% are owned by a handful of companies, one of which is very litigious -- is that spelled right???? You know what I mean.

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