Adam Josephs, a Toronto police officer, filed a lawsuit against YouTube (which is owned by Google Inc.) in connection to an alleged online defamation, as reported by the National Post. He's seeking the identity of someone who posted a satirical video of him, as well as the names of 24 people who commented on the video.
"Officer Bubbles" became Adam Josephs' nickname after a video was posted on YouTube of him threatening to arrest a young woman for assault if one of the bubbles she was blowing were to touch him. The video, taken during the protest during this summer's G-20 summit in Toronto, galvanized the belief by protestors that officers used excessive force.
Adam Josephs' $1.2 million lawsuit against YouTube mostly was triggered by a satirical cartoon also uploaded to YouTube in which an officer with a badge reading "A. Josephs" arrests Santa Claus and other beloved figures.
Even though the alleged defamation took place in Canada, Chicago injury lawyers and personal injury attorneys everywhere likely would find this case interesting. Online defamation is an emerging area of law for which there are multiple legal perspectives.
Attorney Richard Dearden told National Post reporters that most people don't understand how defamation law applies to online content:
"When people can hide behind anonymity, that allows them to write something or post a comment they know is defamatory. Lots of people don't seem to understand that the laws of defamation apply to online comments."
There are limits to the US Constitution's First Amendment right to free speech, as with most liberties.
But Richard Dearden said "Officer Bubbles" most likely will have a difficult time in court, arguing that the cartoon in question is a form of opinion that probably will be considered constitutionally protected.
Defenses to Libel and Slander (FindLaw)
Call an Illinois Injury Attorney (FindLaw)
Ohio Supreme Court: Frontier of Online Defamation Suits (FindLaw's Decided Blog)