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Censorship Your Rights Online

MetaFilter Founder Says Vacation Firm Forged Court Docs To Scotch Review 116

Posted by timothy
from the but-such-a-nice-film-festival dept.
IonOtter (629215) writes Matt Haughey, founder of MetaFilter, has challenged a Cease & Desist letter from Sundance Vacations, a seller of time-shares with a reputation for aggressive sales tactics and suppression of criticism. Only this time, it seems that the plaintiff may have forged court documents ordering Mr. Haughey, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines to remove any and all mentions of the links and posts in question. Legal blog Popehat has picked this up as well, prompting Ken White to wryly note, "...Sundance Vacations is about to learn about the Streisand Effect." The story is gaining traction, and being picked up by Boing-Boing, as well as hitting the first page of search results on Google.
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MetaFilter Founder Says Vacation Firm Forged Court Docs To Scotch Review

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  • wrong problem... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @01:51PM (#47818443)

    The real problem is that, for some reason, a court DID order that entity A
    "who was no longer allowed to speak negatively about the company online".

    How exactly we've created a judicial system with arbitrary power like that is the problem.

    Now the uberpower judicial system will (rightfully) attack Sundance Vacations, and we can all rejoice. Rejoice in the power we've given dudes in robes to declare "i am the law!".

  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @01:53PM (#47818461) Homepage
    SV is not going to care about the Streisand Effect if they are in prison for the next 40 years, which is something that happens when you forge court documents.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @02:09PM (#47818587)

    Imagine a world where it was legal to run up to people on the street, punch them in the face and take their money, and it was illegal to fight back.

    Most "normal" people wouldn't do that because they know inflicting pain on random people for personal gain is wrong. But a subset of society would become muggers because it would be an easy way to make money.

    Now punching wouldn't work on everyone because some people are big, some people are tough, some people are immune to pain, and some wannabe punchers aren't very good at punching. But it would work often enough that a group of amoral people would make a living by causing strangers harm.

    Back in the real world "high pressure sales tactics" are completely legal. But instead of inflicting physical pain, they inflict psychological and emotional pain in order to achieve the desired results. Just because some people are immune to these techniques doesn't mean we should allow the most vulnerable among us to fall victim to them. And we shouldn't allow those who willingly employ these tactics to walk around freely, flaunting the fruits of their misdeeds.

    Sadly US courts have deemed "puffery" to be legal when there is no fundamental difference between most advertising, high pressure sales tactics, and outright fraud.

  • Re:Do not ever (Score:5, Interesting)

    by taustin (171655) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @02:18PM (#47818679) Homepage Journal

    Dude even blocked the doorway after we got up and tried to leave. I eventually threatened to call the police, and he finally gave up.

    Do not threaten to call the police. Just pull out your phone and call 911. Unlawful imprisonment is a crime everywhere in the civilized world. Look him right in the eye as you dial 911, then tell him (before you talk to the dispatcher) "The police are already on their way, and there's nothing you can do to stop that. If I don't talk to the dispatcher before they get here, they'll be that much more likely to tase somebody. Who do you think that will be? The guy who called them, or the sleazy sales douche they'll probably recognize from previous complaints?"

    Or just make a citizen's arrest, then call 911.

    (And if he touches you, especially in attempt to stop you from talking to the police, it's a felony.)

    If someone is with you, with their own smart phone, have them video the entire confrontation. Prosecutors love videos of crimes being committed.

  • Re:Do not ever (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @02:25PM (#47818735) Homepage Journal

    The sad part is, they don't. There is no method to break a time share agreement. So I'm trying something new: I got out of the mortgage by defaulting on the loan, and then with that paper in my possession, which destroyed my credit rating anyway, I stopped paying maintenance fees entirely on the grounds that I did not own the condo and the damn condo association could take me to court over it.

    They never did. My credit recovered after 10 years. New maintenance fees come on every year, I don't pay a penny of them, the ones that are 7 years old get dropped. They can sue my estate after I die, but I have the full amount in savings to pay them off at that point. The company itself has changed hands so often that I could probably make a good case in court for bad recordkeeping. I get 4 letters a year from them- one inviting me to vote in the condo association, three trying to get me to make good on the debt.

  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @02:58PM (#47819031) Homepage

    Sundance Vacations is a company/corporation, as such it cannot do things. It is individuals who do things on behalf of company. This is important. The court is going to be very pissed off with forged court orders being used. They should prosecute the individuals who did this forgery and fine them personally and massively or even better put then in jail.

    If Sundance Vacations is made to pay a fine, then this will be seen as part of the cost of doing business. The criminals who did this will not really suffer much and just be more careful the next time that they want to threaten someone. If the individuals have to pay the penalty then hopefully this will stop this ever hppening again - not only at Sundance Vacations but at other corporations that might think of doing this.

    There is not enough personal liability within corporations for criminal actions with the result that crooks try all sorts of things knowing that at the very worst they could lose their job and have to find another. If individuals have to pay the penalty (money and/or jail) this sort of thing would be less likely and we would all be better off.

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