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Internet Law Based on His Own Personal Distaste
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Nik Richie is best known as the founder and contributing editor of the online gossip and “reality internet” website Thedirty.com. Richie began the site in March 2007 as Dirtyscottsdale.com while living in Scottsdale, Arizona. Nik Lamas-Richie (born Hooman Abedi Karamian, February 12, 1979), known professionally as Nik Richie, is an American blogger, author, and Internet personality.

Jones v. Dirty World Entertainment Recordings LLC is an ongoing legal dispute filed by former high school teacher and former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader Sarah Jones against Dirty World LLC, operator of the celebrity gossip web site TheDirty.com. Sarah Jones, who made headlines with Cody York after their sexual relationship came to light while she was a teacher at his school, alleges that two internet postings about her on the site constitute defamation and libel. Jones claimed that posts displayed on “thedirty.com” affected “her teaching position, her membership in the Cincinnati Bengals, the official cheer leading team of the Cincinnati Bengals, and her personal life”.

  
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In November of 2010, Nik Richie was interviewed by Dr. Phil during a nationally televised hour long episode devoted exclusively to the subject of online bullying and gossip entitled “Dirt, Lies and the Internet”. Dr. Phil questioned Richie about the morality of a website which allows users to bash each other with hurtful comments, to which Richie responded that there is evidentially a marketplace for such a website. Dr. Phil stated the following criticism, “Well, there’s a marketplace for heroin too, but that doesn’t justify being a heroin addict.” After the show aired, viewers who had tuned in posted more than 700 comments about the program’s content on Dr. Phil’s website.

Nik Richie was the one who broke the news of Anthony Weiner’s latest round of marital indiscretions. The website operates as a space where individuals can submit comments which are published with commentary provided by defendant Hooman Karamian aka Nik Richie.

ABC News Reports, “If websites are subject to liability for failing to remove third-party content whenever someone objects, they will be subject to the ‘heckler’s veto,’ giving anyone who complains unfettered power to censor speech,” according to briefs filed Nov. 19 by lawyers for Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Amazon, Gawker and BuzzFeed, among others.

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The posts about Sarah Jones were unrelated to a criminal case that emerged against her in March 2012 in which she was accused of having sex with her former student, a teenager. Jones later pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct and custodial interference as part of a plea deal that allowed her to avoid jail time but prohibited her from teaching again.

The Daily News stated that Sarah Jones is suing the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based gossip website thedirty.com for $11 million because of two posts that said she probably has two sexually transmitted diseases and had sex with every football player on the Bengals. Jones denies both allegations.



In December 2012, former Bengals cheerleader Sarah Jones, 28, also a former high school teacher in northern Kentucky, sued Richie over posts concerning the sexual history of her and her ex-husband. Jones said the posts were untrue and caused her severe mental anguish and embarrassment. Richie said that the posts were submitted to him anonymously and that it was not up to him to judge their accuracy. He simply posted them and added a comment about high school teachers and sex. In July, after federal Judge William Bertelsman allowed the lawsuit to proceed, jurors found that the posts about Sarah Jones were false and Nik Richie had acted with malice or reckless disregard by publishing them, and they awarded Jones $338,000.

Nik Richie is asking the 6th Circuit to find that Judge Bertelsman should never have allowed the case to proceed, which would nullify the jury’s verdict. Oral arguments in the case will be held in Cincinnati, in the beginning of 2014, with a decision expected in the summer.

Image Credit: The DailyNews



 

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