This is meant mostly for Heymatty, and the ridiculous and uninformed remarks made in the Moderators wanted discussion.
1. The truth is an effective defense against a charge of libel. If a statement is made about a hosting company, no matter how bad it is, and it is true, the company would stand little chance of winning a libel suit. Some companies are terrible and it is not libel to name those that are when it can be substantiated.
2. Your contention that a dissatisfied customer shouldn't let others know about a bad host and should merely change to another is out of touch with reality. We have a right to voice our opinions and state the facts about bad hosts. Also, many people have switched from one bad host to another. This site, the comments about bad hosts and the ones about good ones, can help prevent making another mistake and might even save some people from making the first one.
Your remarks are based in ignorance and stacking the deck in favor of lousy hosts. Fortunately, most people laugh at them or ignore them altogether sinc ethey can't be taken seriously.
Anyone that has had a bad experience with a hosting provider and posts it in a forum that specifically want to know of these experiences is perfectly fine IF:
1) the details are stated, pinpointing the area of the alleged deficiency. Simply saying a host is "horrible" is helpful to no one and should be ignored.
2) using comments such as "avoid at all costs", "steer clear", "stay away", "scam artists" are statements that CAN get a person into trouble because then you are actively doing something to cause a loss of revenue to that company which is a no-no and will get you sued.
Stating the facts of an ill experience is one thing but campaigning for customers to not patron a particular business is a whole new ball game.
Just because one person has a bad experience does not guarantee this company will deliver a bad experience to all customers. If a lawsuit wanted to really get down to the nitty gritty and poll all current customers regarding their opinions of the service to arrive at a percentage of happy customers you may be looking at refunding that Host for the cost of lost revenue based on those percentages.
For example: Host "A" has an average sign up rate of 200 clients per month. of those 200 clients, 75% are happy.
Suddenly this hosts average rate drops to 100 per month. The host finds that someone has been posting "stay away" posts about their company and feels that this is the cause of their loss in business.
You could then be sued for the lost revenue of the differnce.
You can say what happened to you in specific terms but if you want to start telling people to stay away and using defamatory lables you might find yourself being sued.
Likewise if someone asks about a particular host frmm current or past customers of that host and you choose to say "well I've never personally used them BUT I've heard a lot of bad things about them and refer to various forums postings and/or heresay information, you are perpetuating the defamation of a company. This could get you in trouble too.
My advice is if you have never been a customer of that company don't respond to the post. Stay out of it. Your opinion wasn't really asked for anyway.
Opinions and heresay are one thing...facts are another. Don't blur the lines and you should be able to keep yourself out of a lawsuit.
Consumers have a right to voice their opinion about a service, however Web Hosting Companies have the right to protect themselves from a single unhappy customer wreaking havoc by making slanderous posts.
There's a big differance between:
"I was unsatified with this service for the follwoing reasons..."
"This company is run out of a garage by a 12 year old scam artist."
Unless you can prove that the company is both run by a 12 year old who has a criminal record and his headquarters is his garage, then that is unfounded and falls under the category of SLANDER.
Any negative statement, without supporting evidence, whether it's true or not, can be considered and prosecuted as slander.
Hey, heymatty -- no one's going to take a word you say seriously until you learn the difference between "slander" and "libel." See this webpage posting the Texas statute of the "Civil Practice and Remedies Code": http://capitol.tlc.state.tx.us/statu.../CV000042.html
Especially note the following:
"Sec. 73.005. Truth a Defense.
The truth of the statement in the publication on which an
action for libel is based is a defense to the action.
You are so wrong on so many points that it is laughable in some respects.
You said "Any negative statement, without supporting evidence, whether it's true or not, can be considered and prosecuted as slander."
You're wrong. Only a FALSE statement, if in writing, could be actionable under libel laws and would stand much of a chance of affordig a victory in court to the plintiff (you really should learn the difference between slander and libel).
Do you really think people are so gullible as to believe that a single unhappy customer can wreak havoc on a company? I think that's more evidence of how out of touch with reality your statements are.
Present libel laws are adequate and effective in cases where a company or individual has indeed been libeled, and I've read of several such cases. There is no need for a lot of new laws on the subject as some people think.
What some hosting companies don't like is when customers and former cuystomers tell the truth about them. In many cases, it reveals how bad so many of these comapnies are. I know people who have used 18 or more and still haven't found a good one. Forums like this one allow us to reveal experiences and save each other form making expensive mistakes.
Guest, we generally agree, certainly in principle, though I think you were getting carried away with some speculations based on damages and polling customers. No matter though, we both know that telling the truth about a lousy host is protected, even if people like heymatty don't think we should say it.
You'd be amazed at what formulas and speculations an aggressive attorney seeking to collect damages in a libel suit will use. I don't know ANY Attorney who'd bring a libel suit before a judge without having his clients damages calculated down to every red cent he can feasibly factor in, AND THEN SOME!
Calculating damages and being able to prove cause and effect are two separate, though related things. I find speculation like this on legal recourse pointless. Many attorneys throw in all kinds of absurd claims hoping some will hold up. Reason oftehn has nothing to do with it.
One more thing, though, in cases which involved AOL, courts have ruled that a site is not responsible for the comments made on it by Internet users. This includes copyright violations and such. That means a site owner doesn't have to be paranoifd about being sued for something posted by a user on a discussion forum or on their pages hosted by a site.
As a matter of courtesy rather than legal responsibility, many sites will delete or disable accounts where there is a copyright violation or trademark infringement (I've had a few shut down for those reasons).
*smiles* like many topics here this one does digress from straight hosting issues but since education and information is the purpose of the forum thats good to see.
One note Duster, as you have succinctly pointed out the truth is its own defence but its worth remembering too that truths change over time. what was true at one point may not be now...whether that truth is good or bad.