Suppose you run a internet forum such as this one, and you have a disclaimer before members sign up that says something to the effect that “you agree that you do not represent X company” or “you agree that you do not work for x company”
Binding in what way? Could you sue a violator for lots of money or have him prosecuted? Almost certainly not. Could it be legitimate grounds for terminating some sort of contractual relationship that you have formed with him? If done right, I don’t see why not.
Although IAAL, I’m probably not licensed in your state. I’m not your lawyer, and you’re not my client. This is is general information, and reliable legal advice. If you’re faced with this issue in real life, see a lawyer licensed in your state for that.
To prevent a particualr party from using the info on the website against me in a potential lawsuit, ie would it prevent them from using anything from the website in court because they did not have the right to obtain it because per the disclaimer they should not have been on the website…
I kinda thought this was where this was going. The “I certify that I am not a cop” thing. I’ve never looked into the issue, but I don’t believe your idea would work, either to prevent use of information on your site by the government or a private person as evidence in a case against you.
I assume that this is a hypothetical question, and is not seeking actual legal advice. I am not your attorney, nor am I licensed in your jurisdiction, as far as I know. Laws vary. What follows is not legal advice.
To answer your question: it would be useless from a civil standpoint. Were I the opposing party’s attorney, and I knew (from my client) what was on the website, I would simply ask for it in discovery. You would have to give it to me, and I would then use it against you.
If you had since destroyed it, I would go to the court with claims of spoliation, and seek sanctions against you. Your defense would be, “but they didn’t have any right to be on my website, so they shouldn’t have known I even said that.” My response would be, “irrelevant how we found out about it; he said it, it’s on his website for everyone to see, it’s responsive to my discovery request, and he’s destroyed it.” I would win. You would be sanctioned for spoliating evidence.
If you didn’t produce the evidence (didn’t destroy it, but just pretended that it wasn’t there), I would depose you or someone else who had seen it, and get you to claim it never existed (“the lie”), then find others who had seen it, take all of that to the judge, and get an order compelling the production. Plus sanctions. Plus I would likely impeach you at trial so the jury could see you’d lied.
Hmmm… how about something like this (seeking a general opinion not a legal opinion. I know you’re a lawyer, and I know you have to disclaim your words regardless of my understanding, so go right ahead, and thanks!):
What if you operated the ****sucks website with a statement that the purpose of the site was to create a union for the employees of that company. Would you be able to prevent harrasment from the company with the defense that any legal action they take is in violation of the right to collective bargaining? would this work if you were a former employee and not a current employee?
What I like about you, Thin Lizzy, is you’re persistent.
As to your question, with the same disclaimers as above, and respectfully:
You’re crazy if you think that will work. First, familiarize yourself with the NLRA and NLRB – the National Labor Relations Act and the National Labor Relations Board – the law and the people, respectively, who work to ensure that America’s workers can unionize. There are rules about who can call themselves a union, how a union is recognized, what rights workers have vis-a-vis unions, etc. I’m not a labor lawyer, so I’ll leave it there.
Second, and perhaps more importantly: my previous analysis regarding how your disclaimer would work still stands. If the purpose of your “disclaimer” is to prevent someone from using against you in a civil action anything you say on your website, neither iteration of the “disclaimer” would do that.
Filing a lawsuit against a person is generally not considered harassment (I recognize the exceptions to this, particularly vexatious litigants and malicious prosecution, but my statement is true in the general sense). So if you start up a website, and post inflammatory/potentially defamatory stuff on that website, your words can and will be used against you in a civil trial. If you are sued, your words would not be hearsay; they are specifically defined as non-hearsay because they are an admission of a party-opponent. (This last clarifies maizinger_z’s post.)
I am a former employee of said company, I feel I was terminated wrongly. Basically the company treats their employees like shit and needs a union. I was thinking of making the site a forum such as this one, for CURRENT employees, to discuss how things are at the company and possibly form a union. The idea being that the company would be less likely to throw around legal threats or sue for fear of violating the National Labor Relations Board act. Dunno how or if this would work being that I am a former employee but the site would be for the benfit of current employees.
I think I have a good grasp of Fair Use and Libel laws…not so much worried about losing any potential case, but want to protect the site in such a way that either the company would be discouraged from taking action, or at least would lose a summary judgement.
Glad to see my crankclient-dar is still in working order.
O–kay. I’ve got a few comments. One, listen to the wise Campion. You can’t avoid civil liability that easily. Crossing your fingers or posting a “No Evil Employers Allowed” sign won’t work either.
Two, another of our worthy posters recently provided us with the following maxim:
Good advice (and a great illustration of the aphorism that even a stopped clock is correct twice a day). How does this apply to you? Well, on two occasions in this thread, you’ve cleverly tried to obscure your brilliant secret plan, while at the same time asking for advice on whether it would work.
Two problems with that. First (as Mr. Herbert tells us), it’s a bad idea to hide things when you are seeking professional counsel. Bad or incomplete information leads to bad advice. Second, as I’ve demonstrated twice already in this thread, an experienced lawyer can generally see right through such attempts to hide what’s really going on. (I suspect physicians and clergymen develop a similar talent.) So your obfuscations probably won’t work, and if they do, you’ll get bad advice.
Nope, that won’t work either. Corporations and LLCs are wonderful tools to limit certain liabilities. Unfortunately for you, they provide no protection at all to an individual who commits a tort. Defamation is a tort.
Trust me, you aren’t the first person to come up with any of these ideas. The legal system isn’t that easy to avoid.
Well I was not trying to be vauge or deceptive, just brainstorming ideas, maybe this made me sound a bit unclear. Just trying to analyze it from all angles and see if it is worth my time to even pursue the website.