Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Courtney Love, Twitter and the First Amendment

Posted By on Wed, Jan 5, 2011 at 11:56 AM

It was only a matter of time before someone sued someone else over something they tweeted. And, if you've ever even glanced at Courtney Love's Twitter stream, it's probably no surprise that she's involved.

Here's more from MSNBC.com:

Courtney Love was very upset.

The firebrand rocker had been locked in a dispute with Dawn Simorangkir, a fashion designer who was demanding payment for a few thousand dollars worth of clothes.

So on March 17, 2009, Love took to her Twitter account and began hurling a stream of shocking insults at the designer known as the "Boudoir Queen." Love's tweets, which instantly landed in the Twitter feeds of her 40,000 or so followers (and countless others via retweets), announced that Simorangkir was a drug-pushing prostitute with a history of assault and battery who lost custody of her own child and capitalized on Love's fame before stealing from her. "She has received a VAST amount of money from me over 40,000 dollars and I do not make people famous and get raped TOO!" Love wrote.

Love, who is scheduled to testify in court, already gave a deposition in the case, during which she argued that she was only repeating in her tweets what she had heard from Simorangkir herself. (Simorangkir denies truth in any of Love's tweets.) She did acknowledge Love's influence as a fashion icon, of sorts, and Simorangkir plans to use those statements at trial to demonstrate that Love was enough of a trendsetter to effectively kill her reputation. In addition, e-mails and phone calls made by Love to Simorangkir in the aftermath of her Twitter rampage, some of which purportedly exhibit remorse about the comments, will be introduced to jurors.

Love's attorneys have their own witnesses, including a medical expert who plans to testify that even if Love's statements were untrue, her mental state was not "subjectively malicious" enough to justify the defamation lawsuit.

That claim — something akin to an insanity defense for social media — suggests that Twitter was so appealing and addictive for Love that she had no appreciation for how the comments she posted would be received by others.

Read the entire article, by Matt Belloni and Eriq Gardner, here.

Of course, this isn't Love's first Twitter fight. Here's a recap of her online battle with Billy Corgan, of the Smashing Pumpkins:

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes snarky commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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