What are the rules for the Internet? Tech companies as large as Google and individuals as ordinary as the frequent commenters on your favorite website have a stake in the legal drama posing that question that will unfold in a downtown Cincinnati courtroom Thursday.
The companies and individuals, not to mention First Amendment lawyers nationwide, are watching to learn the fate of a federal defamation lawsuit filed by former Bengals cheerleader Sarah Jones against the gossip website TheDirty.com – a potentially precedent-setting case that some predict is destined for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Jones won the suit and a $338,000 judgment last summer in U.S. District Court in Covington. But the verdict was so unprecedented that it prompted some of the country’s largest technology companies to file briefs asking the appellate court to reverse the decision.
Lawyers representing Jones and TheDirty.com will argue their cases in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. Legal experts say that if the verdict isn’t overturned, the case could land in the nation’s highest court.