Just Another Pretty Farce

An interesting big company threatens to sue little-blogging-housewife-and-her-laid-off-husband case is unfolding in Tennessee. It involves this post by Katherine Coble of Nashville. You can find her continuing coverage of her own story at her “Just Another Pretty Farce” blog.
This is the not the first of these type of libel/First Amendment issues for bloggers, but expect the trend to continue. Companies trying to control their image on the Internet are scanning search engines to keep track of what’s out there. If you are going to get negative about a company, be prepared to hear about it — whether you do or not. And bone up on the basic rules.
Whether Katherine Coble’s content passes the libel test is another matter and I’m not an attorney. The lawsuit threat, however, makes the writer consider the expense in money, time and emotional turmoil of battling a deep-pocketed company. The counter PR offensive — like this one — that bloggers can unleash when one of their is attacked is powerful (a corollary in the blogosphere equivalent to the print world’s “never get into an argument with a man who buys ink by the barrel”). But blogger buzz may not deter a company either foolhardy or steadfast enough in its efforts to strip the Internet of disparaging words.
It’s not a battle for the faint of heart even if the writer is within their rights, but it is what the First Amendment is all about. I’m glad Katherine Coble has legal representation to help weigh the principles and the practicalities.
I would imagine the same discussion is occurring at the company, JL Kirk Associates, as the irate villagers of the blogosphere bang on their castle door with pitchforks and mattock handles. Foolhardy or steadfast?

UPDATED 4/18/2007: It’s over.
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