Fond du Lac County Judge Robert Wirtz on Thursday ordered local Web site owner Dennis Payne to cease operations of the bulletin board site, fullofbologna. com, based on the allegations of a libel lawsuit filed by Winnebago County Clerk of Courts Diane Fremgen.
As part of the temporary injunction, Wirtz also prohibited Payne and other defendants listed from operating any similar Web sites until the order is lifted. Failure to abide by the order would be considered contempt and could be punishable with jail time and fines, according to the order.
Fremgen on Thursday filed the lawsuit based on two sexually explicit comments that were written about her and posted on the site by an anonymous user. She will seek $100,000 in monetary damages and $500,000 in punitive damages, according to the civil complaint.
In addition to the complaint, Fremgen filed for the injunction for reasons including that Payne not only allowed the defamatory statements on the site, but also failed to remove them.
According to federal law passed as part of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”
Phillips on Thursday said a full injunction removing the site from the Internet was the only way to stop more libelous statements from appearing. The anonymity factor created an attitude where users of the board felt they could write whatever they wanted, he said.
Easily applicable to blogging and quite a dangerous precedent were this to succeed.