Encyclopedia Dramatica (ED) is a site I frequented for years, even before I started my own. Yes, I have a page on ED. Some my entry is accurate, some of it is bogus, and some of the content is a mixture of the two. Even though I get a kick out of reading my own page (I also wrote a small portion of it), and others, people who use the site as a primary source are ignorant beyond belief. Why? Because there’s a lot of straight-up bullshit there, that’s why. You can take bits and pieces from there, and I do, but since it’s satire mixed with truth, it’s not fit to be cited as full-on reality. That doesn’t stop some people, however.
Anyway, I didn’t come here to write a full essay about the pros and cons of ED. I actually came to tell you about a lawsuit that’s been filed against the owner of the site, Brian Zaiger. It was brought by the notoriously sue-happy game developer, Jonathan “Johnny” Monsarrat. Here’s a bit about his past judicial exploits…
You may recall that a few weeks ago, we wrote about a spectacularly bogus lawsuit filed by Jonathan Monsarrat against a bunch of online commenters who had discussed Monsarrat’s arrest a few years earlier, along with the beautifully epic response from lawyer Dan Booth of Booth Sweet LLC (also known for its Prenda fighting accomplishments). That was a long post, because there was a lot of crazy to cover, so I suggest you go back and check it out for all of the details, but it included (among other things) bogus copyright claims (in a state court, where you can’t really do that), an apparent ignorance of section 230 of the CDA, what appeared to be an attempt to rewrite history as noted in press reports directly from police reports, a questionable relationship between Monsarrat and his lawyer (possibly more of a business relationship rather than an attorney/client relationship), a suggestion that the lawsuit was an end run attempt at identifying anonymous critics as part of a marketing scheme for a new “anti-cyberbullying” service that Monsarrat was starting with his lawyer, and a variety of other things.
As we noted, that “epic response” from Booth wasn’t filed in court, but rather was sent in a letter to Monsarrat’s lawyer, Mark Ishman. It appears that Booth, representing one of the named defendants, Ron Newman, was getting ready to officially file his motion to dismiss with the court (unfiled documents embedded below), but right before they did so, Monsarrat and Ishman filed to dismiss the case with prejudice (meaning they can’t file it again). Newman points out that there was no settlement at all, so it appears that Ishman and Monsarrat realized that this case had almost no chance of succeeding (and, perhaps, a fairly decent chance of blowing up in their faces). I wonder what this will mean for their “anti-cyberbullying” service…
There’s myriad examples of this sort of behavior from Maniac Monsarrat. In this case, he appears to have received a default judgement. …
His lawyer in that case, Larry Appleman, has some interesting (i.e. cancerous) ideas about internet governance.
His lawyer in the case against ED doesn’t appear to be much better. His past is allegedly pretty shady…
A.k.a., Richard A. Goren, Alias, Richard Goren, Alias, ‘Psycho-Richard’ Goren, Alleged Attorney, Bodoff & Associates, P.C., 120 Water Street – Boston, Massachusetts 02109-4210
Sources confirm A.k.a., Richard A. Goren, alleged counselor at law routinely seizes assets from the elderly, fraudulently.
Sources confirm alias, Richard Goren, maliciously abuses the law. ‘Psycho-Richard’ Goren, routinely files baseless lawsuits in order to seize assets from clients, from adversaries and even from his own family.
Sources confirm Richard Goren, intentionally abuses the law. ‘Psycho-Richard’ Goren, routinely perjures himself to State authorities in order to fraudulently manufacture cases against his victims.
That is an unconfirmed account, of course. Take it for what it’s worth. I wouldn’t want such reports circulating around the internet if I was an attorney, however. But Mr. Goren has an ingenious (i.e. unethical, should be illegal) way to try to get past such plights.
Like many other business owners, Richard Goren, a Massachusetts attorney, was unhappy with an online consumer review about his business. Like many other business owners, he was frustrated by his inability to remove the review from Ripoff Report, which says it doesn’t remove consumer reviews and won’t let authors remove them either. Where Goren’s story diverges from prior stories is that he thinks he found an innovative way to use copyright law to solve his problem…
Because review websites typically will respond to a copyright takedown notice where they ignore defamation takedown notices, businesses have tried different ways to use copyright law to scrub online reviews.
Richard Goren, on behalf of himself and his law firm named Small Justice (a perhaps unintentionally ironic name), found another way to use copyright law against an unwanted Ripoff Report. Here’s what he did:
Step 1: Goren sued the pseudonymous review author for defamation in Massachusetts state court. It’s unclear exactly what notice the review author got about the pending lawsuit, but the review author no-showed, meaning no one opposed Goren’s requests.
Step 2: Because the author no-showed, Goren got a default judgment. As part of the remedies, the judge gave him the review’s copyright.
Step 3: As the purported copyright owner, he sent Ripoff Report takedown notices. When Ripoff Report refused, he sued them for copyright infringement.
Thankfully, this clown lost bigly. But I think you’re starting to see the strategy losers like Monsarrat (who laughably claims to have invented the MMO genre) try to employ. Hell, his own lawyer tried to abuse copyright law. I guess you could call him one of the pioneers of this poisonous tactic. I’m not sure why the case against ED has even gotten this far, but perhaps that’s due to the nature of ED itself. As I mentioned in the opening, they have a somewhat colorful approach to free speech.
And that’s what this boils down to, free speech. No matter what you think of Encyclopedia Dramatica, and I mostly like them, with the above caveats, Jonathan Monsarrat is someone who should be squashed at every turn. I wouldn’t doubt it if the creep sued me for this very post. I’m pretty thorough, though, Johnny. So bring it.
Oh, by the way, if you would like to donate to the legal defense of ED, you can do so here.