Results 1 to 6 of 6
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    249

    Default "Pen Name" vs. "Internet Pseudonym"

    In Missouri, it is possible to sue for defamation of a pen name, but not for defamation of an internet pseudonym. The basic fact situation is as follows. Plaintiff has written several erotic stories under a "pen name," but has not sold any work for profit. Defendant made several statements about Plaintiff's "pen name" which plaintiff now alleges are false and defamatory.

    Defendant makes a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim on the grounds that because plaintiff has never sold any of his works for profit, nor is there any realistic likelihood that he ever will, his "pen name" is not a true pen name for purposes of Missouri defamation law, but is instead a mere internet pseudonym.

    Who wins? Can you cite any authority for your argument? I.e., I'm looking for someone who actually knows something about the distinction between "pen names" and "internet pseudonyms" here.

    Thanks.

    Couple of more quick facts:

    The stories were published on various internet erotic stories sites. Plaintiff's stories have been downloaded by several thousand people. The allegedly defamatory comments were posted in the review section of one of the erotic stories sites.

    One more fact: the stories are not generally well received by readers, but a few readers really like them.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    249

    Default Re: "Pen Name" vs. "Internet Pseudonym"

    As I do a bit more reading, it looks like the distinction might be rooted in the "right of publicity," or the right of people to create a public persona and profit from it. But I'm limited in my access to legal research materials. Is it *necessary* to a defamation of a pen name claim that it be a pen name used for profit, or seriously and demonstrably intended to be used for profit?

    If you don't know of any Missouri authority on point, I'd be happy to be pointed to authority from other jurisdictions. In my reading of Missouri case law so far, I haven't found a case where a persona not used for profit has ever sued for defamation. But that doesn't mean Missouri courts have ever spoken to the issue.

    Of course, the answer could be rooted in basic Missouri defamation law on damages. I think the gravamen of a Missouri defamation claim is damage to one's ability to earn a living. Before you can recover any ancillary damages under Missouri defamation, i.e., humiliation, emotional distress, etc., I believe you have to demonstrate actual injury to earning capacity. If that's the case, then it would seem that one would not be able to "defame" a hobby pen name.

    Maybe I need to read the Missouri case law on damages closely.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    249

    Default Re: "Pen Name" vs. "Internet Pseudonym"

    No, that isn't right. Damages aren't predicated wholly on the ability to earn a living. Damages can be predicated on mere injury to reputation, whether or not it affects the ability to earn a living.

    Still, there's a significant difference between injuring one's real world identity, and injuring one's not-for-profit internet identity. And offhand, I can't actually find any cases stating outright that it's possible to sue even for defamation of a pen name (though it makes sense when the pen name is a for- profit pen name).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Key West, FL
    Posts
    2,350

    Default Re: "Pen Name" vs. "Internet Pseudonym"

    Tallking to yourself it looks like.

    First, criticism is not defamation. Opinion is protected by the constitution. If someone says your story sucks, is badly written, makes no sense, is not erotic, etc., that is OPINION and fully protected. If someone says your story is plagerized, that might be actionable.

    To sue for defamation of a pen name, there has to be income associated with that name to have any chance of collecting damages.

    Is this a school test or something, or do you really think you have a chance in hades of winning such a case.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    249

    Default Defamation of Pseudonyms

    Okay, I explained the basic fact situation in a previous thread. Plaintiff alleges that defendant posted defamatory statements about his pen name in the reviews section erotic stories message board. Plaintiff has never sold any of his works for profit, but has written about 30 erotic stories, published on a few different erotic story sites. His stories are not generally well received, but they do have something of a following. They have been downloaded a few thousand times.

    Defendant files a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. His argument is that because plaintiff has never written for profit, nor will he foreseeably do so, his pen name is a mere pseudonym, and cannot be legally defamed.

    I cannot find any Missouri authority directly on point. All of the cases outside of Missouri dealing with defamation of pen names have dealt with defamation of professional, for profit pen names. Never have I seen a case dealing with defamation of a not-for-profit internet pseudonym.

    My access to proper legal research materials is restricted right now. I'm relying heavily on Google Scholar, which is limited in its search capabilities compared to a proper law library or Lexis or Westlaw.

    I don't mean to double post. So to distinguish this post from my last post:

    In my last post I was looking for authority in Missouri dealing with the defamation of pen names and pseudonyms. Now I'm looking for any relevant authority or scholarly works dealing with the subject. I've already found a few cases in which it is assumed that professional pen names can be defamed. I'm looking specifically for cases or articles that deal with the question of whether non-commercial pen names or pseudonyms can be defamed.

    Any help would be appreciated.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    98,765

    Default Re: Defamation of Pseudonyms

    Try searching in Google Scholar.

    1. Sponsored Links
       

Similar Threads

  1. Defamation: Defamation of a Dog
    By ColoradoTN in forum Defamation, Slander And Libel
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 06-25-2011, 07:14 AM
  2. Defamation: Is This Defamation?
    By st1069 in forum Defamation, Slander And Libel
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 08-21-2008, 08:41 AM
  3. Copyright Law: Pseudonyms on Copyright Application
    By littlehelp in forum Intellectual Property
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 06-22-2008, 05:09 AM
  4. Defamation: Defamation
    By Prankster in forum Defamation, Slander And Libel
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 04-08-2008, 02:57 PM
  5. Defamation: Defamation and my job
    By gulfcoastworker in forum Defamation, Slander And Libel
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 03-14-2006, 11:23 AM
 
 
Sponsored Links

Legal Help, Information and Resources