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summons.pngLeslie Richard, owner of the small home-based eco-fashion business, is being sued for $20 million over a blog post.
Richard was contacted by Vision Media Television, a production company based in Boca Raton, FL, who said they wanted to include her and her clothing store in a segment on eco fashion. It would be seen, they told her, by 84 million people, on PBS, CNN, and all over Europe.
It all sounded great until VMT asked for almost $26,000 to cover production fees and travel costs for filming. Richard thought it sounded fishy, and she started doing some investigating to be able to protect herself, and she even started to look for insurance, reading reviews of the best providers for this.
She learned that they’re not affiliated with PBS or CNN. In fact, PBS includes a disclaimer in the FAQs on their website that reads in part: “PBS wishes to clarify that it is not associated with and does not endorse, distribute programming for, review underwriting for or otherwise have any business relationship with the following production companies: VM Television, Vision Media Television…”
In a post titled Scam Taking Advantage of Green Businesses, Richard detailed what had happened, and included some of the emails that had been exchanged. In July, Vision Media responded with a lawsuit. They objected to her use of the word “scam.”
A major issue the case brings up is that bloggers First Amendment rights are not as clear as those of mainstream media. A bully like Vision Media counts on a lone blogger not having the resources to fight a lawsuit, even a frivolous one like this one.
The posts of many bloggers are shedding light on the situation, and that always helps because bullies count on having their victims turn tail and run.
Over the past several years, Media Bloggers Association has offered legal support and successfully resolved scores of similar cases. MBA’s website says it soon will offer affordable liability insurance to its members, along with media law training.