This release is just in from Media Bloggers Association:
BLOGGER HIT WITH MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR FEDERAL LAWSUIT
Phone Sex Line Ad Embarrasses State of Maine Contractor
Lance Dutson, a tech blogger who publishes the Maine Web Report
(mainewebreport.com) was served Saturday with a lawsuit filed in the U.S.
District Court in Maine. The lawsuit, filed by attorneys for Warren Kremer
Paino Advertising, LLC seeks damages based on allegations of copyright
infringement and defamation for reporting and commentary written and
published by Dutson on his blog. Warren Kremer Paino Advertising is a New
York-based advertising agency hired by the State of Maine Tourism Board to
promote Maine as a tourism destination.
Most of the financial damages claimed in the lawsuit center on Dutson
publishing a sample advertisement contained in a presentation prepared by
Warren Kremer Paino for the 2006 Governor’s Conference. The presentation,
still publicly available on the State of Maine web site, included an ad
promoting a number, 1-800-MAINE24, which directs callers to a phone sex
line. The lawsuit asserts that Dutson’s publication of this advertisement is
a violation of their copyright and seeks $150,000 per instance of use.
Dutson has been highly critical of the Maine Tourism Board and Warren Kremer
Paino Adverting for what Dutson believes to be a web-based advertising
campaign that hurts Maine businesses by driving up the cost of local
“keyword” advertising on sites such as Google.
Dutson is a member of the Media Bloggers Association which provides “first
line” legal defense to member bloggers. Greg Herbert of the Greenberg
Traurig Law Firm is acting as lead counsel and providing his services on a
pro bono basis. The Media Bloggers Association, through MBA General Counsel
Ronald Coleman of The Coleman Law Firm, is acting as co-counsel.
“This case is nothing more than an attempt by a deep-pocketed litigant to
bully a blogger for criticizing state officials and state contractors"”,
said Robert Cox, President of the Media Bloggers Association. “We have
successfully defended MBA members in nine previous cases and I don’t expect
the outcome here to be any different.”
Dutson has vowed to fight the lawsuit.
“The idea that criticism of the state government can be defamatory is
absurd”, said Dutson, "This attempt to bludgeon critics of the state
government is not going to work."
Through its legal defense initiative, the MBA provides member bloggers with
"first line" legal defense, pro bono advice on how best to respond to legal
threats related to the member's blog.
"Bloggers don't usually have an in-house legal department or high priced
outside First Amendment counsel, but they're at least as likely to need one
as any MSM outlet. That's where we come in," said Coleman.
"Many of these cases, where a large corporation sues an individual for
criticism over the Internet, appear to be motivated, primarily, by an
attempt to silence legitimate criticism and suppress speech” said Herbert.
ABOUT THE MEDIA BLOGGERS ASSOCIATION
The Media Bloggers Association, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to
promoting, protecting and educating its member bloggers and citizen
journalists is the largest association of bloggers in the world. Members
include many of the most well-known and widely read bloggers. The MBA is
dedicated to supporting the development of "blogging" or "citizen
journalism" as a distinct form of media; and helping to extend the power of
the press, with all the rights and responsibilities that entails, to every