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Johnny Gill Sued Over Tweets

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Courtney Love and faithful LegalZoom blog readers know that Twitter is ripe for lawsuits, but apparently recording artist Johnny Gill didn’t get the memo.

My, my, my, Johnny.

TMZ reports that Gill has been sued by Ira DeWitt, the CEO of Notifi Records, Gill’s label, over a series of Twitter postings based on Gill’s belief that DeWitt had leaked an unfinished new track of his on the Internet.

@RealJohnnyGill tweet

DeWitt denies any involvement in the song’s appearance online, and is now suing Gill over allegedly defamatory tweets in which he called the producer “deranged” and “f**king nuts” and her company “not even a real label,” among others.

According to the Courthouse News Service, the complaint alleges that the tweets were defamatory because they “charge DeWitt with criminal, improper and immoral conduct,” “subject DeWitt to hatred, contempt, ridicule and obloquy . . .” and “injure DeWitt in her trade and business by imputing to her a lack of integrity and professionalism that has a natural tendency to lessen her ability to conduct business in the music producing industry.”

The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by DeWitt seeks unspecified damages for harming her reputation and an injunction to stop Gill from mean-tweeting about her.

Gill responded to the suit to a TMZ reporter saying he was just exercising his freedom of speech and that such lawsuits should be thrown out otherwise “the courtrooms would be filled with a bunch of Twitter people complaining about things people say every day.”

Whether Gill’s legal analysis is correct remains to be seen as similar Twitter lawsuits have yet to make their way to trial; back in March, Courtney Love agreed to pay $430,000 to a fashion designer over allegedly defamatory tweets just before the case entered a courtroom (Love has since been sued again over other tweets, though, and that case is still pending).

Mediabistro recently published “a warning to US journalists” regarding the potential for successful Twitter libel lawsuits, though, so defamation via the microblogging service should absolutely be a concern for anyone using it.

What do you think? Should people be able to sue for allegedly defamatory tweets?

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August 18th, 2011 at 11:27 am