I had intended to do a followup this week with more scathing evidence of ePerks shilling all over the blogosphere, but ePerks have pre-empted that by taking some rather unusual and desperate action…
Remember I am not a lawyer, and this is a stong opinion piece.
I am trying extremely hard to create an assertion of fact dressed up as an opinion
ePerks Are Suing Vlad
I found out on Saturday from Vlad that he is being sued by ePerks.
Here are the documents served on Vlad.
Just a quick note for anyone who shares this document, it would be well worth modifying it to include some keywords in the links that Scribd inject. I should have also suggested to Vlad that it be prefaced with some links to relevant discussions.
<a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/3271851/Barabus-vs-Zablotskyy">ePerks - Brabus vs Zablotskyy</a> - <a href="http://www.scribd.com/upload">Upload a doc</a></div><div style="display:none"> Read this doc on Scribd: <a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/3271851/Barabus-vs-Zablotskyy">ePerks - Brabus vs Zablotskyy</a>
It is interesting to note that for some reason Brabus are looking for punitive damages and claiming malice, and they have confined the case to the way Vlad defended his family name when he was attacked quite viciously on multiple websites suggesting he is/was a paedophile which as far as I know is untrue – Vlad has always come across as a kind and generous person.
This was particularly damaging for Vlad, he writes a pro-life blog, and is in the process of filing for adoption.
Vlad’s post in my opinion, and I have read it at least 20 times, doesn’t seem to directly accuse ePerks of anything, and would only suggest suspicion, but certainly not direct accusation, if the whole situation up until that point was taken into account.
At that time the suspicion was warranted, “Jaffar S” was using the same IP address in comments as people claiming to be ePerks employees, and others posting multiple positive comments, the same IP address range as I previously highlighted being used for ePerks shilling.
18.104.22.168 to 22.214.171.124 – I suggest anyon who has come into contact with ePerks in any way search their databases and email accounts for every IP address in that range – it may be vital evidence.
Ben Behrouzi claimed his company ePerks had nothing to do with the address range, and Vlad posted that information very clearly on his blog.
There was a little confusion though of which Ben might not be aware – though Vlad originally mentioned Texas, the IP range is actually tied to San Francisco and San Jose, where ePerks is located, and that is the area that lots of shill comments originated from as well.
Vlad made no accusations but simply presented anecdotal evidence indicating that ePerks was possibly linked to the false charges
Trace also goes into detail that the papers served on Vlad have no relationship with the previously sent Cease and Desist.
All of this is important, lets take a look at what I didn’t (deliberately) quote from the chilling effects article.
Question: If I write something defamatory, will a retraction help?
Answer: Some jurisdictions have retraction statutes that provide protection from defamation lawsuits if the publisher retracts the allegedly defamatory statement. For example, in California, a plaintiff who fails to demand a retraction of a statement made in a newspaper or radio or television broadcast, or who demands and receives a retraction, is limited to getting “special damages” â€” the specific monetary losses caused by the libelous speech. While few courts have addressed retraction statutes with regard to online publications, a Georgia court denied punitive damages based on the plaintiff’s failure to request a retraction for something posted on an Internet bulletin board. (See Mathis v. Cannon)
If you get a reasonable retraction request, it may help you to comply. The retraction must be “substantially as conspicuous” as the original alleged defamation.
Vlad very clearly posted the statement on his blog that Ben Behrouzi claimed the attack on Vlad’s character was nothing to do with ePerks.
ePerks – Brabus Ventures are suing Vlad under California law, and my reading of Vlad’s article on IP addresses is that that could be looked on as a very fair statement given equal weight in the public eye, even though (as far as I am aware) no request for a retraction was ever received from ePerks / Brabus Ventures.
In a similar light, ePerks at least on Vlad’s blog might be looked upon as a public figure – they paid him to write about them – one article opened Pandora’s box.
From Chilling effects
A public figure must show “actual malice” â€” that you published with either knowledge of falsity or in reckless disregard for the truth. This is a difficult standard for a plaintiff to meet.
How Can We Help Vlad?
Spreading the news – this affects all bloggers free speech.
Donations – Greg Swann has set up a donation fund for Vlad
Greg has created some logos / banners / badges along with donation buttons that can be easily syndicated and posted on your blog.
Support Vlad Zablotskyy’s Defense Fund
Defend your own right to free speech!
I might have arranged things and orchestrated things differently, using a dedicated site for the donations, and coordinated the release of information, but nothing can quell the desire to help Vlad in any way people can.
If you have come into contact with Vlad in the blogosphere, or support free speech, or are a parent disgusted at the way false claims can be made against people anonymously, or someone who understands how important a clean reputation is for adoption, you might want to consider a donation.
For bloggers out there, remember to use descriptive anchor text for every link
I am going to start compiling blog posts of people writing about this horrible situation, especially where they add something significant to the conversation (lawyers, want a link? SEO help?)
Aaron Wall went through this in the past, and has noted that ePerks is going viral (the negative point of view)
Are eperks spammers?, by Lord Matt takes a look at “piles of poo” about ePerks, and a very clear statement of personal opinion from Matt – “I fully believe that Ben Behrouzi of Brabus Ventures (eperks) is both a spammer and an unpleasant human being”- the type of vernacular he normally reserves for the local council and utility companies.
Joe from Sellsius Real Estate is the first lawyer that I am aware to blog about this, and whilst of course this can’t be looked on as legal advice the discussion regarding the long arm of the law and personal jurisdiction in libel cases is extremely interesting.
I never thought I would see the day I would link to Ripoff Report, but someone seems to have listed a complaint about ePerks there. Please don’t add to the report unless your have a genuine complaint about their service.