Aaron Wall Sued Over SEOBook Blog Comments
Who is responsible for the content found on a blog entry? The author, right? How about the comments made by the blog entry readers? Is the author responsible for this content, from a legal point-of-view, as well…?
That particular question has a gray area to it, although it may receive some clarification soon. This subject is topical because Aaron Wall of SEOBook was sued by infamous search engine marketing provider Traffic-Power, who’s site has been removed from Google’s index because of questionable optimization techniques.
Even though Traffic-Power has been punished by Google, that doesn’t stop them from trying to take action against those who speak out against them, especially if the offender isn’t as powerful as Google. Just ask Aaron Wall. He was recently hit with a lawsuit from Traffic-Power over reader comments posted through out Aaron’s numerous blog entries. Apparently, these reader comments made mention of Traffic-Power in a negative light, which seems to have offended the Google-banned SEO firm.
The details of Aaron’s ordeal are kind of murky, but the gist of it is Traffic-Power informed Aaron if he removed all mention of the company from his many reader comments, Traffic-Power would drop the lawsuit. Apparently, the legal team from Traffic-Power feels some of their trade secrets were disclosed in some of these comments. As of now, it appears as if Aaron has acquiesced and removed much of content he thought was offensive to his complainants. His blog entry concerning this mess reveals more:
As far back as June 4th, 2004 I removed a comment that I thought was offensive, and I thought generally I was keeping the content in bounds of any sort of legal limit. It is ok to have an opinion. It is ok for others to post their opinions. Since the initial time someone cold called me stating they were from Traffic Power the content has aged over a year and never once has Traffic Power attempted to contact me outside of blog comments, a cease and desist, and a lawsuit.
Could you imagine being a client for a company that communicates like that?
Had at any point in time Traffic Power made ANY LEGITIMATE ATTEMPT to tell me what specifically I or my site did wrong, I probably would have promptly removed it.
While it appears as if Aaron is taking the necessary steps to clean up the Traffic-Power-related content, another debate concerning the responsibility of blog comments has reared its head. As pointed out by Nick Wilson of Threadwatch, Robert Scoble and Duncan Riley have opposing views about this subject. Riley believes Aaron should be protected by free speech rights and this makes sense because the complaint focuses on reader comments that trashed Traffic-Power.
However, Scoble feels that has blog owner, Aaron is responsible for the content appearing on his domain, whether he made the comments or not. Much like Riley’s perspective, Scoble’s has merit as well. Of course, this makes Nick’s take the most correct: they are both half right.
Whoever’s right, the fact remains that Aaron is removing the offending comments, which should follow the stipulations of the filing and therefore clear SEOBook.com of any wrongdoing. Although, Aaron does reveal he entertaining the idea of mounting a legal defense in order to fight Traffic-Power’s suit, which means the story may not be played out completely.