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#968251 - 05/26/04 05:01 PM Please Be Careful What You Post!
Piano World Offline



Registered: 05/24/01
Posts: 5636
Loc: Parsonsfield, ME (orig. Nahant...
I just received another lawyer letter (via email) asking to have posts removed about a
certain piano dealer and threatening legal action. No, I didn't hear from the dealer first, they chose to go straight to their lawyer (interesting).

By the way, I'm purposely not naming names here (the dealer, the lawyer, or the thread(s)), please don't start guessing or speculating.
I need to discuss things with our lawyer first.

The last time this happened (the infamous posts about a NY dealer) it cost me hundreds of dollars.
Now I have to have our lawyer respond to this one.
Even though I am technically not responsible ...

"The law is very clear in this area. As the host for a forum, Piano World is treated as a news vendor, bookstore or library and is not liable, since he neither knew nor had any reason to know of any purported defamation. He exerts no editorial control over the content of forum postings. Moreover, the Communications Decency Act has preempted a defamation claim. "

I have no desire to get in the middle of this.

I find it unfathomable that you can say what you want about the president of the United States, but you can be sued for what you say about a piano dealer. Be that as it may, I need to once again ask our members to be careful, before you find yourselves in court.

By the same token, if I was the dealer and someone was saying something untrue about my store, I wouldn't be too happy.

[I must admit though, threatening legal action against a site with 6200+ piano loving members and thousands upon thousands of visitors doesn't sound like the best business tacticts. Perhaps a more gentlemanly approach first would have been better?]

It would be interesting to get some of our members from the legal profession to weigh in on this subject. I can't see why members couldn't post negative comments about a dealer, tuner, mover, whatever, provided they were true and sustainable. And provided we allow equal time/space for rebuttals.

Or maybe we need a legal slush fund and some pro-bono lawyers? :-) [Just kidding]

PLEASE ALSO SEE: Forums 10 Commandments
_________________________
- Frank B.
Founder / Host
www.PianoWorld.com
www.PianoSupplies.com
Find Us On:
Facebook.com/PianoWorldDotCom
Twitter.com/PianoWorld
www.youtube.com/PianoWorldDotCom
Skype: PianoWorldDotCom
My Keyboards:
Estonia L-190, Yamaha P-80, Hammond XK-3, Hammond A-100, Estey 1895 Pump Organ, Harpsichord (kit), Clavichord (kit)
-------------------------
It's Fun To Play the Piano ... PLEASE Pass It On!
And please invite everyone you know to join our piano forums!
Coming to Maine? We're in Parsonsfield (southwest) let's get together!


Top
#968252 - 05/26/04 06:06 PM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
Christopher James Quinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/03
Posts: 2299
 Quote:
Originally posted by Piano World:


Or maybe we need a legal slush fund and some pro-bono lawyers? :-) [Just kidding] [/b]
You shouldn't be kidding, if I were a lawyer I'd certainly do pro-bono work for this site.

I'd contribute to a legal defence fund for sure. Set up a link.

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#968253 - 05/26/04 06:47 PM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
Nina Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/01
Posts: 6467
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Someone had a good idea (maybe in the offending thread)... when you have had a good experience with a dealership, we should ALL trumpet the news loudly and frequently. If the experience was less than satisfactory, we should just remain silent. Perhaps something like "I have also visited (dealer name)." End of comment.

Sometimes silence tells volumes, and I am assuming that there would be no legal issue over simply acknowledging that you have been to the dealership, or better yet, just saying nothing.

My 2c. Sorry you are having problems again, Frank.

Nina

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#968254 - 05/26/04 07:01 PM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
kathyk Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/19/03
Posts: 6971
Loc: Maine
I'd certainly help, Frank, but I it's not my practice area and I'm out of state so I wouldn't be much help.

That really stinks! Maybe you could put a little caveat in the piano forum telling members not to publicly post negative feedback about particular venders (you can bet none of 'em will send you threatening letters when the comments are positive. :rolleyes: ), but also post a line encouraging PF members to post requests on the piano thread for people to respond to them privately for questions regarding particular venders. That way, the flow of information won't be stopped - it just won't be public. Plus, in that format, we can all say what we would normally filter somewhat on the public forum; in other words, REALLY tell them what we think. That'll get 'em!!

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#968255 - 05/26/04 07:43 PM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
gryphon Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/01
Posts: 11678
Loc: Okemos, MI
Why won't you post the name of the store? That would be worse than the bad word of mouth, yet would seem to fall inside the reasonable boundaries.

Or just make a sticky topic. The following dealers are good, the following dealers have threatened to sue us.

I know, it's not funny. \:\(

Time for me to hit your PayPal link again.
_________________________
"If we lose freedom here, there's no place to escape to."
MSU - the university of Michigan!
Wheels

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#968256 - 05/26/04 07:57 PM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
BeeLady Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/02
Posts: 2339
Loc: Massachusetts
Why can't slimy dealers take responsibility for their own misdeeds instead of pinning the blame on everyone else....I guess some people just don't get it...
\:\(
_________________________
BeeLady

Life is like a roll of toilet paper...the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes!

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#968257 - 05/26/04 08:08 PM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
KathyK, that seems like a good plan. I guess if someone were to show up and ask about this or that dealer with a poor reputation, one of us could post a reply asking that replies take place off-list.

I did think it weird when a newcomer turned up here recently and posted very brief messages about the reputations of certain piano dealers. A different thread for each dealer, which is unusual. No details about what they were looking for, either; just asking about dealers. Very suspicious.

Cindy
_________________________
Vote For Cindy!!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post...QvjrL_blog.html

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#968258 - 05/26/04 08:16 PM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
irving Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/14/03
Posts: 705
Loc: Irvington, NY
 Quote:
Originally posted by kathyk:
...post a line encouraging PF members to post requests on the piano thread for people to respond to them privately for questions regarding particular venders. That way, the flow of information won't be stopped - it just won't be public. Plus, in that format, we can all say what we would normally filter somewhat on the public forum; in other words, REALLY tell them what we think. That'll get 'em!! [/b]
Kathyk,

When I first read your idea it seemed terrific. But then I thought about it a bit and realized the abuses that such a system might invite. Imagine that someone puts up a post asking for private feedback about ABC Pianos, an honorable dealership - one of the good guys. Among the (hopefully) many notes filled with accolades would perhaps be a few (or more) sent by shills fronting for jealous and unscrupulous competitors. Surely, these notes would be negative (or worse) and ABC would have no opportunity to respond. ABC has no recourse when it is unfairly slighted or disparaged by salespeople in its competitors' showrooms - and that's bad enough. I worry about giving the bad guys another possible route of attack.
_________________________
Irving
Faust Harrison Pianos
We sell new Bechsteins, Yamahas, Mason & Hamlins, Brodmanns and W. Hoffmanns, and rebuilt vintage Steinways. All rebuilding is done in our own factory. www.faustharrisonpianos.com

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#968259 - 05/26/04 08:42 PM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
yonnermark Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/15/03
Posts: 491
Loc: UK
I agree, we should all hang our washing out in full view of everyone

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#968260 - 05/26/04 09:07 PM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
Dan M Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/03
Posts: 770
Loc: California
That stinks, I would bet that whatever was said, about whoever, was right on the mark. People who are guilty of such behavior typically extend it to doing things like contacting their lawyer, and not even discussing it first.

It must be frustrating for you, here you are providing a service, and people do stuff like this.
_________________________
The piano is my drug of choice.
Why are you reading this? Go play the piano! Why am I writing this? ARGGG!

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#968261 - 05/26/04 09:10 PM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
Piano World Offline



Registered: 05/24/01
Posts: 5636
Loc: Parsonsfield, ME (orig. Nahant...
Tell me, how does a web site like
www.f***edcompany.com get away with posting
the things they do?

While I prefer the forums be as unbiased as
possible, and not a place for personal vendettas, we shouldn't be prevented from posting the truth.

Anyone can have a bad day, but the truly good companies/stores/dealers will own up to their mistakes and make them right.
I find it is usually the questionable ones who get on the defensive (and call out the watch dogs).
_________________________
- Frank B.
Founder / Host
www.PianoWorld.com
www.PianoSupplies.com
Find Us On:
Facebook.com/PianoWorldDotCom
Twitter.com/PianoWorld
www.youtube.com/PianoWorldDotCom
Skype: PianoWorldDotCom
My Keyboards:
Estonia L-190, Yamaha P-80, Hammond XK-3, Hammond A-100, Estey 1895 Pump Organ, Harpsichord (kit), Clavichord (kit)
-------------------------
It's Fun To Play the Piano ... PLEASE Pass It On!
And please invite everyone you know to join our piano forums!
Coming to Maine? We're in Parsonsfield (southwest) let's get together!


Top
#968262 - 05/26/04 09:35 PM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
jodi Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 6959
Loc: The Evergreen State (WA)
So, what happens if you just don't respond to these lawyer threats? Does it still cost you money? I can't believe it's happening to you again, Frank. All you have to do is google, and you can find complaints on online message boards about all sorts of businesses. Why are do all the sue-happy weenies sell pianos?

\:\) Jodi

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#968263 - 05/27/04 12:13 AM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
JPM Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/24/03
Posts: 1010
Loc: NM, GE & Wash. DC
Could PW start a dealership list?

Good ones get a
Ones with no track record get an "Unknown"
Bad ones get a
Or can you be sued for Graemlins too?

It could be developed using a rating system based on member input (voting) with explanatory comments but precautions would be necessary to prevent problems like Irving mentioned.

Maybe it's best to keep doing it the way we are though. Pat good dealers on the back publically. If we don't know the dealer, say we don't. If someone asks about a bad dealer, say nothing .... although what I'd really like to say is "I'd like tell you my frank and candid opinion but the last time I did this dealer threatened to to sue PW."

It amazes me that some folks will spend their money to persist in doing things the wrong way while others know what right is and just do it.

Frank, please let us know how we can contribute to the PW Legal Defense Fund.

JP
_________________________
"Piano music should only be written for the Bechstein."
-- Claude Debussy

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#968264 - 05/27/04 05:57 AM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
Christopher James Quinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/03
Posts: 2299
 Quote:
Originally posted by kathyk:

That really stinks! Maybe you could put a little caveat in the piano forum telling members not to publicly post negative feedback about particular venders [/b]
While this forum has been incredibly useful for so many people it has become a victim of its own success, and if contributors have to hold their punches with respect to negative comments about specific dealers then consumers become a victim of this forum's success as well.

Anyone used to usenet is probably completely unaware of the 'prohibition' against negative comments about specific businesses (I certainly was until this thread started).

The success of this forum has drawn most contributors away from usenet, so that RMMP is not even worth monitoring IMO. So we are left with a playground full of people with opinions, yet all we hear are the 'positive' ones. Not good.

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#968265 - 05/27/04 07:41 AM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
Piano World Offline



Registered: 05/24/01
Posts: 5636
Loc: Parsonsfield, ME (orig. Nahant...
 Quote:
Originally posted by Christopher James Quinn:
While this forum has been incredibly useful for so many people it has become a victim of its own success, and if contributors have to hold their punches with respect to negative comments about specific dealers then consumers become a victim of this forum's success as well.

Anyone used to usenet is probably completely unaware of the 'prohibition' against negative comments about specific businesses (I certainly was until this thread started).

The success of this forum has drawn most contributors away from usenet, so that RMMP is not even worth monitoring IMO. So we are left with a playground full of people with opinions, yet all we hear are the 'positive' ones. Not good. [/b]
I agree with Christopher and some of the others.
If all we post is positive information we do a disservice to the thousands of people who come here every day looking for help and advice.[/b]

We need to find a way to convey negative information without worrying about legal threats every time.
Maybe some of our friends/members in the legal professions could offer some advice?

Here's what I'm thinking (but I'm certainly open for other ideas). We ...

Post Polls[/b] either one poll per dealer, or multiple dealers in one poll. I can set it so voters can only vote once. We indicate that a poll has to have had at least 10 votes to be considered a reasonable representation.

Star Ratings[/b] Use the 5 star rating system

Personal Experience[/b]
Negative posts should be based on personal experience and include facts, not based on hearsay.

Other suggestions?
Legal opinions?
_________________________
- Frank B.
Founder / Host
www.PianoWorld.com
www.PianoSupplies.com
Find Us On:
Facebook.com/PianoWorldDotCom
Twitter.com/PianoWorld
www.youtube.com/PianoWorldDotCom
Skype: PianoWorldDotCom
My Keyboards:
Estonia L-190, Yamaha P-80, Hammond XK-3, Hammond A-100, Estey 1895 Pump Organ, Harpsichord (kit), Clavichord (kit)
-------------------------
It's Fun To Play the Piano ... PLEASE Pass It On!
And please invite everyone you know to join our piano forums!
Coming to Maine? We're in Parsonsfield (southwest) let's get together!


Top
#968266 - 05/27/04 08:07 AM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
fmelliott Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/01
Posts: 894
Loc: Virginia
I cannot remember anything particularly unpleasant being posted about anybody on the Forum lately. It is obvious that the complainer was waiting to pounce and spoiling for a fight.

Many apologies from all of us Frank. Don't let this get you down.

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#968267 - 05/27/04 08:09 AM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
Christopher James Quinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/03
Posts: 2299
 Quote:
Originally posted by Piano World:


Other suggestions?
Legal opinions? [/b]
You've probably explored this angle, but I would expect that there are non-profit groups seeking to protect free speech as it relates to a defacto public forum, even if it is hosted in a private space?

Alternatively, and I'm guessing here, perhaps the legal problems would not apply to a PRIVATE forum? So everyone who joins PW has to pay a fee to join the private discussions? I don;t like the idea much myself because I think all this info should be in the public domain, but perhaps having a membership fee somehow indemnifies you from this legal problem?

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#968268 - 05/27/04 08:35 AM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
obrother Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/04
Posts: 182
I don't know if any forum lawyers have, indeed, contacted you offering guidance, whether it be in private or otherwise. If and when that happens, perhaps they will need a copy of the exact letter that you received so they can assess the validity of the retailer's position. I know this is sort of common sense and probably something you've already taken care of, and I also know that it is not a substitute for having your own lawyer review the letter and facts.

I'm not a lawyer and am probably in over my head, but I do find suspect, the retailer's ability to squelch negative speech on a forum, as such. Were it conspiratorial, untrue, and intended to damage the retailer's name and business as opposed to relate facts....maybe it would seem less of a first amendment issue.

That said, many of us know of other forums (Taylor guitar, Motif Forum...that routinely rip apart Guitar Center)that utilize negative critics. An interesting example is 'The Complaint Station'. And one example there is Rowe Furniture who gets slammed repeatedly, and hard, but they usually post a follow-up telling the complainant(?)what action to do.

I'm not sure what would prompt either Guitar Center or Rowe Furniture, organizations with good financial resourses, to take a pass on contesting the negative forums...while this retailer in question professes to have a legal issue.

One suggestion would be for you to contact the forums mentioned above (owners/administrator/whatever) and ask their take on the situation. While I can't give real legal advice, I can only say that it would be a shame if you heeded this retailer's directive, when it was based on well written legal bluster. The fact that they went straight to a lawyer, this time, could be to present the best 'impact' for their directive - which they may know to be flawed.

If all this fails, my suggestion would be that the precise name and location of said retailer not be mentioned but that the general area of business, etc. and other pertinents be allowed - so as to make more vague any claim they think they have, but to still convey facts/opinions amongst forum readers who can fill in the missing info on their own.

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#968269 - 05/27/04 08:48 AM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
Rich D. Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/27/01
Posts: 1262
Loc: Rehoboth Beach De. USA
Frank,
I like your idea about the polls. 5 stars being best, one star meaning look elsewhere. As you indicated votes are based on personal experience only and no dealers can vote. Also let me know how to contribute to the PW legal defense fund.

Understand why you can't mention the dealer. If it were known however, over in the usenet, I'm sure folks in the RMMP would have a few choice words to say.

Rich
_________________________
Retired at the beach (well maybe not completely)

Anton Rubinstein said about the piano: "You think it is one instrument? It is a hundred instruments!"

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#968270 - 05/27/04 08:54 AM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
Dan M Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/03
Posts: 770
Loc: California
I like the polls idea.

What's not legal about that? Consumer reports and hundreds of other sources rate products and services.
_________________________
The piano is my drug of choice.
Why are you reading this? Go play the piano! Why am I writing this? ARGGG!

Top
#968271 - 05/27/04 08:55 AM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
irving Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/14/03
Posts: 705
Loc: Irvington, NY
 Quote:
Originally posted by Piano World:
I agree with Christopher and some of the others.
If all we post is positive information we do a disservice to the thousands of people who come here every day looking for help and advice.[/b]

We need to find a way to convey negative information without worrying about legal threats every time.
Maybe some of our friends/members in the legal professions could offer some advice?

Here's what I'm thinking (but I'm certainly open for other ideas). We ...

Post Polls[/b] either one poll per dealer, or multiple dealers in one poll. I can set it so voters can only vote once. We indicate that a poll has to have had at least 10 votes to be considered a reasonable representation.

Star Ratings[/b] Use the 5 star rating system

Personal Experience[/b]
Negative posts should be based on personal experience and include facts, not based on hearsay.

Other suggestions?
Legal opinions? [/b]
Frank,

Clearly, people here are frustrated by, even resent, a rule that muzzles them. Most of us have always taken for granted that as Americans we have the right to express ourselves freely. ďFreedom of SpeechĒ, to most of us, means that we can say whatever we want, whenever we want so long as what we say is not libelous and so long as we donít yell ďfireĒ in a crowded theatre when there is no fire. If a piano dealer treats people unfairly, has an inventory that is sub-par or is simply unpleasant, surely we should be free to state this here without constraint. Or should we be?

This forum offers no protection to anyone (dealer, manufacturer, distributor or whatever) who might be the victim of a smear campaign run here by devious shills masquerading as innocent piano lovers. Believe me; I would like nothing better than for each and every crook and incompetent to be exposed for what he or she is. This would only help my business so long as I would be sure not to be one of them. But if by allowing the crooks and incompetents to be exposed, we make it possible for innocents to be unfairly maligned, we should perhaps not be so free to expose them.

Even a well-meaning person can, perhaps a bit thoughtlessly, say something negative about a piano person or entity that is not completely fair. This can and does happen here at times and it can and does cause harm. If the negative comment is well deserved, thatís perhaps okay, but it isnít always so well deserved, it isnít always sure to be adequately countered and we canít always know when it is undeserved.

So what should we do? If we canít be fully free to express negative opinions that would surely make this forum less fun. Some of our best contributors might find themselves too bored to want to stay on. And, as you say, If all we post is positive information we do a disservice to the thousands of people who come here every day looking for help and advice.[/b] So there seems to be no question but that we must provide a way for people to express all of their sentiments, both positive and negative, without constraint. Self-policing has worked pretty well here and this has been sufficient to ensure against most abuses and to counter most unwarranted slights. But the system is not fail-safe - some abuses have not been caught; some unwarranted slights have not been countered. Because the system isnít fail-safe we have a dilemma that must be addressed and resolved.

Does your proposed system do the trick? If itís sufficiently tweaked, perhaps it would work. So letís start tweaking and see what happens. First, if weíre going to have any sort of ratings, we must make sure that the raters are as credible as possible. One way to do this would be to require that each rater be open about who he or she is and to also require that he or she be a reasonably frequent poster (100 total posts, perhaps, or 50 posts in the last year) with a star rating of 4 or more from at least a dozen other frequent posters. Not too many cheaters would achieve ďraterĒ status with requirements like this. Second, the raters must always be open to challenge. Should the forum community feel that a particular rater is unfair or biased, it must have the means to boot him or her from the rater pool.

I might have more to say, but Iím late for an appointment. I hope that this dialogue continues with more ideas along these lines.
_________________________
Irving
Faust Harrison Pianos
We sell new Bechsteins, Yamahas, Mason & Hamlins, Brodmanns and W. Hoffmanns, and rebuilt vintage Steinways. All rebuilding is done in our own factory. www.faustharrisonpianos.com

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#968272 - 05/27/04 09:19 AM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
Sir Lurksalot Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 1248
 Quote:
Should the forum community feel that a particular rater is unfair or biased, it must have the means to boot him or her from the rater pool.
In other words, throw out the scores of the American and East German judges.

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#968273 - 05/27/04 09:34 AM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
kenny Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 7051
Usenet
RMMP

Please explain.
First, I've have seen RMMP.
It is a google group, rec music makers piano.

Don't laugh, but what is usenet?
Is RMMP part of usenet? or vice versa?
And why are they not sueable?

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#968274 - 05/27/04 09:38 AM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
Manitou Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/08/02
Posts: 1044
Loc: Colorado
Epinions, Crutchfield and a host of other sites have plenty of ratings and customer feedback, I wonder how they get away with it?

I also like the Star rating system. But limiting this rating to users with a certain number of stars may not work as; those piano shopping are newer and have few posts.
_________________________
Manitou - Pianist - Technician

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#968275 - 05/27/04 09:52 AM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
Jack Frost Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/10/03
Posts: 4454
Loc: Maine
Any cease and desist letter from a lawyer needs to be taken seriously--not because there is necessarily any substance to the underlying claims, but because even a frivolous lawsuit can be expensive to defend. Having said that, 99 times out of 100 (or 1000?), there is no suit. the letter is puffery and an inexpensive way of stiffling legitimate expression. You back down because you do not understand your rights or you are not willing to take the chance that this is the 1 in a 1,000 case that will be litigated.

Typically, the letter wants you to stop doing something or remove something from the marketplace. In my experience, if you ignore the first letter and they do indeed file suit (unlikely), then you can decide to do what they originally requested and they will go away -- USUALLY. In court it is VERY hard to prove monetary damages. BUT WHO WANTS TO GO TO COURT?

There are two defenses that protect everyone and Frank has highlighted a third that protects him.

The two defenses that we all share are:

1. Truth. If what you say is true, you are not liable for saying it no matter how badly it reflects on a dealer.

2. Opinion. You are entitled to yours, and as long as your remarks are clearly an opinion, you cannot be liable for expressing it. It doesn't even have to be reasonable. If you begin your expression with: "In my opinion...." you are safe (as long as the "opinion" does not go on to make a factual mistatement too).

Now, what gets you in trouble? A statement purporting to be a statement of fact that is untrue and causes harm to another. Such as (assuming they are untrue): ABC Piano Dealer has the highest prices in the NYC area. ABC Piano does not even have a service department.

There are many forums and publications where products and businesses are rated and customers allowed to comment. As Frank notes, on the web a forum host is protected.

Lawyers write cease and desist letters with nothing to back them up all the time. Nobody wants to get sued, and defending even a stupid lawsuit can be expensive. The vast majority of such letters do not result in a suit if ignored, and most of the ones that are litigated probably have some merit. But in the end, anybody with $125 can start a lawsuit.

How you respond to these letters depends in large part on how "risk averse" you are. I have not seen the letters and know nothing about the underlying claims and allegations, but I suspect they are just phooey....

jf (Esq.)
_________________________
"Make the pie higher." GWB

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#968276 - 05/27/04 09:54 AM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
pianojuggler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/16/04
Posts: 1515
I am not sure there's that much value in setting up a rating system for dealers. There are so many scattered throughout the U.S. and the rest of the world, I just don't see that there's a large enough sampling of consumers to reliably rate any but the largest dealers or the chains. Just my opinion.
_________________

Would it provide any coverage of your or our collective posteriors to have a prominent banner on each and every page (especially the "New Topic" page) that "the comments posted are the opinions of the respective posters and full responsibility for those comments lies solely with the person making the comment"?

BTW, Frank, I don't use PainPal, but if you send me a private message with your mailing address, I shall drop a check in the mail.

Finally, relevant to Frank's first reply on this thread (about another public forum for ranting), didja see this morning's recycled Calvin and Hobbes strip?

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#968277 - 05/27/04 09:57 AM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
For some reason, this whole thing would make me want to fight fire with fire. It really would.

What's to stop Frank from posting the entire letter he received from the dealer's lawyer right here, without comment? That's certainly not defamation, now is it? Surely any new members ought to understand that the dealer in question is one that threatens frivolous litigation? Sometimes if you expose a roach to the light of day, it will scurry off and leave you alone.

Honestly, I think that "covering" for this dealer by maintaining their anonymity might be making matters worse. They know that having their lawyer ink a letter for $50 will chill discussion on this board. Frankly, I think they're bluffing, and they'll never file suit. If they do, then they'll lose and this harassment will stop once and for all.

That said, my lay opinion on this is that I wouldn't start any formal system for ranking or evaluating dealers. My hunch is that allowing people to voice their opinions is one thing, and your exposure is limited. I think you're allowed to run an internet discussion board like this and not be responsible for everything that is said.

Once you take the next step and encourage a ranking system, thought, you might be in a different situation. You might need to take reasonable steps to guard against someone spamming the poll/rating results, voting again and again under different identities to malign a dealer. I don't know.

I think the best defense is to keep the forum exactly as it is -- a place where individuals can say what they want publicly, and anyone who wishes to defend his/her honor can do so publicly.

Oh, and one more thing, Frank. You probably don't want to post anything your lawyers sent to you or tell us what they're telling you. Your adversary might take this as evidence that you're waiving the attorney-client privilege and argue they're allowed to review your confidential communications with your lawyers. That would be something to avoid, to put it mildly.

Cindy -- conceding that it is easy to be a tough guy when she's not the defendant
_________________________
Vote For Cindy!!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post...QvjrL_blog.html

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#968278 - 05/27/04 10:03 AM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
I think the lawyer who sent the email should be sent a letter back from another lawyer telling him that any more attempts to intimidate this forum and its members will be viewed as an attempt to violate our collective civil rights and will be aggressively pursued. My guess is the attorney who sent the email is not convinced he has a leg to stand on, but because his client is demanding he threaten you, he does so via email to see if that's enough to scare you into submission.

You have a right to state facts. The dealership this lawyer works for is a known fact. The contents of the email is a known fact. I'd post all that information, with a well worded little disclaimer at the top saying this is what you got, this is why, and nail it down so it won't move from the top. There's nothing they can do about you posting facts.

PS: Cindy, you posted yours while I was writing, so I just saw it. We're thinking alike, you just said it better than I did. I think the email, along with the name of the dealer involved, should be posted without comment, and nailed down to the top of the list with no way for anyone to respond to it. And it should stay there for a long, long time.
_________________________
Life isn't measured by the breaths you take. Life is measured by the things that left you breathless

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#968279 - 05/27/04 10:07 AM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
Steve Miller Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 3290
Loc: Yorba Linda, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Piano World:
I just received another lawyer letter (via email) asking to have posts removed about a
certain piano dealer and threatening legal action. [/b]
Via e-mail[/b]?

Is this how they do things these days?
_________________________
Defender of the Landfill Piano

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#968280 - 05/27/04 10:19 AM Re: Please Be Careful What You Post!
JPM Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/24/03
Posts: 1010
Loc: NM, GE & Wash. DC
Frank said,

"We need to find a way to convey negative information without worrying about legal threats every time."


CJQ's comments suggest a possible solution. If we cannot post negative comments on PW for fear of law suits, how about posting to RMMP instead?

If someone asks about a dealer one of us knows to have problems/issues, we tell them we cannot respond on PW because of litigation concerns. We tell them to post their question to RMMP where it will be candidly answered.

Can PW be held liable for comments posted by one of its members to RMMP?

Of course, Irving is right, it is important that negative posts be based on fact, not hearsay. I would think that in order for someone to pen a creditable negative comment about a dealer, it ought based on first-hand knowledge or involvement in the issue at hand. That's only fair to the dealer involved. The dealer can respond with his side of the story on RMMP if he so chooses.

Could something like this work?

JP
_________________________
"Piano music should only be written for the Bechstein."
-- Claude Debussy

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