Sports Law Blog
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Saturday, June 06, 2009
Tony La Russa Reaches Settlement over Fake Twitter Account Lawsuit
Jimmy Golen of the Associated Press interviews several people, including Harvard Law prof Wendy Seltzer and me, over St. Louis Cardinals' Manager Tony La Russa's recent lawsuit against Twitter and subsequent settlement over a guy creating a fake Twitter account, purporting to be La Russa. An excerpt of the story is below.
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Tony La Russa's lawsuit against Twitter was a lot like kicking dirt on the umpire: He got a lot of attention, and he made his point, but he wasn't likely to win the argument.
"His chances are probably slim" if the case went to court, said Michael McCann, a Vermont Law School professor and contributor to the Sports Law Blog. "There were strong indications that this is parody. And given the content of the tweets, I don't think that anybody would think it was actually Tony La Russa that was doing this."
Only four people had signed up to follow the "TonyLaRussa" Twitter account when the real St. Louis Cardinals manager, a lawyer and two-time World Series champion, decided he couldn't ignore the offensive messages going out under his name. He sued the social networking site and the unidentified impostors who made light of drunken driving and the death of two Cardinals pitchers.
The potential court showdown between the manager who pioneered the three-out save and the social networking site that limits users to 140 characters was averted on Friday when the site agreed to pay his legal fees and make a donation to his Animal Rescue Foundation.* * *
Wendy Seltzer, a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, said the Communications Decency Act protects internet service providers from most liability in these cases. La Russa might have had a better case against the pranksters who posted the material, she said. . . . "If only four people saw that before he managed to make his complaint, it's highly unlikely his reputation was damaged in any relevant community," Seltzer said.