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Julia Allison’s Defamation Problem and Overzealous Father

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Take one self-promoting pseudo-celebrity (Julia Allison), a heavy handed attorney who happens to be her father (Peter Baugher), vocal internet critics, mix them all together and what do you get?

A you-know-what storm erupts.

So who is Julia Allison?  Perhaps Wired.com came up with the best description.

Allison is the latest, and perhaps purest, iteration of the Warholian ideal: someone who is famous for being famous. Like graffiti writers who turned their signatures into wild-style gallery pieces, she has made the process of self-promotion into its own freaky art form. Traditionally, it takes an army of publicists, a well-connected family, or a big-budget ad campaign to make this kind of splash. But Allison has done it on her own and on the cheap, armed only with an insatiable need for attention and a healthy helping of Web savvy.

She has been called one of the most hated people on the internet ahead of someone who tossed puppies off a cliff and a woman who drove a teen to suicide by mocking her.  In the end, Allison blogs, tweets and posts about every moment of her life and has gotten people to watch her every move.  Along with that, has come a steady stream of detractors.

For instance, a WordPress blog was set up that blogged about her blog.  Julia’s father successfully had that blog taken down (PDF via bnet).

The removed blog responded via their tmblr account:

Well hello bunnies. An update on the lunacy that has gone on in the past day or so.      Dadsers sent us an e-mail yesterday, with an attached threatening letter on his own letterhead, not his firm’s. The language was similar to, though not nearly as insane as, the e-mail sent to us at 2 a.m. the night before from an “anonymous person” — nudge nudge wink wink. The problem was, Dadsers also faxed this letter to the workplace of someone who has nothing to do with RBNS. We pointed out to him that this person was a complete innocent bystander, someone his daughter erroneously believed was behind the blog and had harassed several weeks earlier.      There was no lawsuit threatened. He simply wanted us to keep the blog down and to tell us who we were. We told him we were not resurrecting the blog but could not stop other blogs from starting up and if they did, he’d have to attempt what was successful with WordPress. He wouldn’t be getting any information out of us.

To the extent copyright issues were occurring, that material should be taken down immediately.  A simple DMCA Notice would suffice.  It is unclear what happened here, but the blog was gone.

And that was that.

Now the controversy came to light again when Techdirt.com (which has its own strong opinions about internet anonymity) commented on Julia’s father’s (the aforementioned Peter Baugher) editorial in the Chicago Tribune regarding this issue.

This messy situation and all of the fixings associated with it illustrates the issues with anonymous defamers and attackers on the internet.  Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides immunity for the “publishers” of such material and courts have given this immunity a wide berth.  The problem we have now is that because the immunity granted has been so broad, publishers have no incentive to help those subject to unfair and unwarranted anonymous attacks.

There needs to be a happy medium between unmasking anonymous internet users and the current situation, which is untenable.  Maybe a DMCA type of system that requires certain proof to be submitted to publishers?  What are your thoughts?

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5 Comments Post a comment
  1. deelia Wright #

    While I totally agree that we should be preventing “unfair and unwarranted anonymous attacks” I think it’s ludicrous for Julia Allison and her father to try to attack anonymous critics considering she is a self-described celebrity.

    She went out of her way to court fame (gawker, wired, a million television interviews) and has deliberately put herself in the limelight seeking attention. In fact, it has been reported that she has even signed on to a new reality show. I would assume that having spent a few years mocking celebrities herself as Star Magazines talking head, you would think she would be familiar with the discussions that happen around celebrities and people who live the public life, no? If Julia was just a normal girl who was being victimized by peers, I would be completely on board, but by her own biography as a “former wired girl” I think this isn’t the case and Peter Baugher should stop trying to rationalize away the fact that many people online find his daughter’s behaviour deplorable. Further more, the site in question never posts defamatory comments and instead simple parses content that Julia herself makes available to the public…AS AN INTERNET PERSONALITY. Am I the only one who is confused by his tirade?

    While it might be a harsh stance, I think that if you are going to put your content online you have to be ready for people to not like what you have to say. And if what you’re selling is yourself then you have to accept that some people might just hate you. Does that mean they have the right to harass you? Absolutely not. But do they have the right to have their opinion and express that opinion? I think they do.

    September 27, 2011
  2. Give Me A Break #

    Julia Allison, who regularly tips the mods of her own “hate” site? Who sent press releases out both when she started dating Jack McCain and just months later when he broke up with her? Julia Allison who regularly uses uncredited images on her own blog and runs pics of herself stamped with “Getty Images” rather than purchase them?

    Julia Allison and Peter Baugher went out of their way to not only shut down a snark site about Julia’s antics (see her Public FB where she’s laying naked with a guy and had bootie shorts on with half her ass hanging out at Burning Man) but when a Facebook page popped up supporting the shutdown snark site – Peter Baugher and Julia Allison googled the fans of this page. They then googled their work places and called them up and repeatedly harassed them, threatening to call their employers and have them fired. Then came the Cease and Desist letters sent from Peter Baugher’s own law firm. Hmmmmm, I wonder why people want to make anonymous comments Peter? Maybe so lunatic lawyers don’t harass you at work and try and get you fired. (PS, it was proven, the person they harassed the most never contributed or commented at the snark site).

    September 27, 2011
  3. Derek #

    The story here are the tactics Julia Allison and Peter Baugher, apparently a respected lawyer, used to try to shut down the blog. It was/is a total abuse of power on Baugher’s part, and represented genuine, IRL harassment of several innocent people. THAT is the story that Internet BizLaw should be doing. That and the fact that he and the Tribune failed to disclose his conflict of interest in writing this piece.

    September 27, 2011
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