Commenter Sues Newspaper for Refusing to Remove Comments About Him

He loses, in Hupp v. Freedom Communications, Inc. (Cal. Ct. App. Nov. 17, 2013), and will likely have to pay the defendant’s attorney fees to boot (under the California anti-SLAPP statute). Plaintiff Paul Hupp’s claim was that the Orange County Register “violated its user agreement ‘by making public comments and not removing said comment about Plaintiff that includes but is not limited to; invading the privacy of Plaintiff, harassed Plaintiff, was harmful to Plaintiff.'” But the Register isn’t liable in tort for the commenters’ alleged misconduct, and it isn’t liable under the contract, either, because its contract specifically stated that it wasn’t promising to delete any comments that violated its policies:

[W]e reserve the right, but undertake no duty, to review, edit, move, or delete any User Content provided for display or placed on the Service, at our sole and absolute discretion, without notice to the person who submitted such User Content.

And in any event, according to the court, the plaintiff didn’t provide any argument supporting his breach of contract claim.

Incidentally, the VC makes a cameo appearance in footnote 3:

It is interesting to note that, despite his alleged privacy concerns, Hupp participated in the Volokh Conspiracy postings, even though many details of his life were openly discussed.

Hardly a key part of the logic, but, hey, our names in print! “Things are going to start happening to [us] now.” Thanks to Prof. Shaun Martin (California Appellate Report) for the pointer.

UPDATE: The problem with posting while tired — the title originally said that the commenter sues the newspaper for refusing to remove his comments; of course that isn’t so, since his claim was that the comments were other people’s comments that violated the posting policy. D’oh! Sorry about that.