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Even When You Can, Maybe You Shouldn’t, Redux

As this blog is operated by an anti-piracy services company, it’s natural for us to focus on intellectual property misdeeds of pirates and pirate-enablers. From time to time, however, we run across a story in which it air max 270 homme is the rights-holder (actual, presumptive, or otherwise) who acts in a way that inspires a mighty facepalm.

In an article published on Forbes.com today, Santa Clara University law professor Eric Goldman relates the saga of Lee v. Makhnevich, an odd case that pits a dentist and her practice (Dr. Stacy Makhnevich and Aster Dental) against a former patient (Robert Lee), in connection with negative reviews of the dentist’s services posted by Mr. Lee.

Below is how Goldman summarizes the circumstances that gave rise to the lawsuit; I quote it at length because the context is important here:

“In search of urgent pain relief, Lee contacted Dr. Stacy Makhnevich (a preferred provider under Lee’s insurance plan). Dr. Makhnevich’s office required Lee to sign a ‘Mutual Agreement to Maintain Privacy’ before it would treat him. This agreement – based on a form contract sold by a North Carolina company called Medical Justice – prohibits patients from posting online reviews of the dentist; and if the patient does write a review, the agreement says the dentist owns the review’s copyright…. Later, Lee became unsatisfied with his interactions with the dentist and posted critical online reviews to Yelp, DoctorBase and other websites. Apparently unhappy with the reviews, the dentist invoked the Mutual Agreement to Maintain Privacy and claimed copyright ownership over those reviews. The dentist sent Lee draft versions of lawsuits claiming $100,000 in copyright infringement damages. The dentist sent Lee invoices claiming copyright damages of $100 per day for his infringement. The dentist also sent takedown notices to Yelp and other websites, threatening to sue them for copyright infringement if they didn’t remove Lee’s posting…. Lee didn’t fold under this pressure; instead, he sued the dentist to void the contract.”

At this point, it is unclear who will prevail in the lawsuit that Mr. Lee brought against his dentist, but as Goldman relates, things are not looking good for Dr. Makhnevich thus far. To cite just one example of the possibly bad portents for Dr. Makhnevich and Aster Dental, in his ruling denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss, U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty described the defendants behavior in trying to enforce its contract (and its claimed copyright to Mr. Lee’s comments) as “aggressive and threatening,” and termed the defendants’ argument that no actual controversy exists between the parties (an argument made in the defendants’ motion to dismiss) to be “specious.”

Regardless of the merits (or lack thereof) of the contract that Mr. Lee signed, and regardless of whether Aster Dental can really claim a copyright to Mr. Lee’s comments by virtue of that contract’s terms, Aster Dental was unwise to seek control over patient feedback in the first place, in my view. If one weighs the benefits of such control (the occasional, contestable ability to stifle negative speech about their practice) against the downsides of trying to exert that control (get ready to become familiar with the term “Streisand Effect,” Dr. Makhnevich and company), it seems to me that trying to assert copyright over your patients’ reviews of your services falls squarely in the “don’t do it” column.

Taking this sort of action in the Internet Age is far too likely to get you the sort of attention that you are trying to avoid in the first place. Among other things, you might end up being written about on Forbes.com by a guy like Eric Goldman, or if you are truly unfortunate, lambasted by the (quite effective) bloggers/attorneys over at Popehat.com.

I have doubts that the agreement that Mr. Lee signed is enforceable to begin with, but it’s a question that never would have been asked in the first place, but for the fact that Aster Dental invited it to be asked. It now appears that the answer will come from a judge, and may well not be the one that Aster wants to hear.http://www.sneaker2018.fr/