For Immediate Release February 22, 2016
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About Dr Andres Guadamuz, Senior Lecturer Intellectual Property Law University of Sussex
Dr Andres Guadamuz is a Senior Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law at the University of Sussex and an Associate Researcher of the CREATe Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy.
Authorized Statement by Dr. Janice Duffy
My name is Dr Janice Duffy. I was the recent successful plaintiff in a defamation matter in the South Australian Supreme Court. The Defendant was Google Inc. I represented myself at the trial against eight corporate lawyers. I have no previous legal experience. I won the case.
The trial was split into two by Justice Blue because I was self-represented. The first trial was on liability and the second on damages. I won on liability and Google’s defences of justification, innocent dissemination and qualified privilege failed. In December I was awarded compensation after the trial on damages.
On October 30 2015 Guadamuz published this blog post on his Technollama site
UPDATE: 12 Mar 2016 Dr. Janice Duffy responds to Prof. Guadamuz’s punditry
This post imputes, among other defamatory and offensive imputations, that the justification defence should have succeeded. The publication of this blog post distressed me greatly and I asked Guadamuz to allow me to send him evidence tendered at the trial that refuted the justification defence. He refused to read or consider amending his post. Moreover, Guadamuz indicated on Twitter that my case would be used in his teaching at Sussex University.
On February 22nd 2016 I was sent a notification through my blog that Guadamuz had published defamatory content on the website PissedConsumer.
Guadamuz denies responsibility for this post under his name, which has caused further extreme distress and I have notified my lawyers. In order to support my complaint it may be useful to provide some background.
I have a pre-existing mood disorder (depression) that was managed successfully until 2006. It then became a major depressive disorder that lasted unabated for three years. The cause was a physical condition and it was not properly diagnosed until late 2009. I joined an online depression support group through which I was groomed and conned by, what where in fact, online ‘spiritual’ experts. After I realised that these people were con artists I posted on a website called Ripoff Report and formed a support group for others. The defamatory webpages in my claim were written as a tactic to discredit the support group and me. Some of the experts were fleecing vulnerable people of hundreds of dollars a week and when the group members stopped using them they lost money.
There are almost 400 complaints about the company that facilitates these people to fleece vulnerable people (Kasamba/Liveperson) on Ripoff Report with more than 8,000 comments. The date range is from early 2006 to the present day.
It is obvious that many of the recent complaints reiterate the same issues as in 2007 when I posted on the website. Approximately 75 of these complaints were included in the trial Tender Books and it was this evidence that supported Justice Blue decision that the justification defence should fail. This is the evidence that I asked Guadamuz to review for his distressing and defamatory blog post.
Although I did not realise it in 2007 Ripoff Report is tantamount to an extortion racket. It is enabled by its high Google page rank. As stated in Vision Security v Xcentric Ventures, Ripoff Report posts negative content for commercial purposes. This case analysis provides a link to the decision.
Ripoff Report says that it does not remove reports. This is incorrect. According to evidence in a US criminal case against the owner and one of its writers, Ripoff Report charge up to USD$10,000 a webpage to remove false content.
Moreover, the website founder, Ed Magedson writes or commissions his various paid goons to write content about those who challenge him. Once my defamation action became public Magedson commissioned extra defamatory reports and comments about me and my Australian co-activist against Ripoff Report extortion and cyberbullying, Michael Roberts.
The criminal investigation produced documentation that Ripoff Report is worth approximately USD$45 million and has an annual income of USD $15 million. Magedson ratified the website’s income in a 2013 article for Forbes Magazine. It is clear from this interview that Magedson enjoys inflicting pain and distress on innocent people.
Google provides these websites with a high page rank because they profit from advertising. My co-activist has made a useful video that explains this.
The pain, desperation and distress of some of the people victimised by Ripoff Report and Google is evident in many of the 600 plus comments on this petition (mouse over view to read them).
The website ‘PissedConsumer.com operates on the same model as Ripoff Report – profiting from defamation, reputation assassination and shaming. It will not remove the defamatory content, which. of course, I suspect was Guadamuz’s intention.
I realised that I would have to represent myself eighteen days before the trial commenced because after five years of unemployment and a defence of ‘deep pocketing’ by the Defendant I had used up all my savings. Google Inc refused to negotiate or mediate and the defamatory content remains online at the top of the searches for my name. Google subpoenaed my work records and discovered content on my computer that I had stored for a sexual harassment complaint on behalf of myself and three other women that was not investigated by my former employer. In 2010 I complained to the Australian Human Rights Commission and even though the complaint was in my records Google attempted to keep it out of evidence, albeit unsuccessfully. The purpose was, of course, to denigrate my character. Due to their ‘scorched earth’ defence I spent most of my hours during the trial while not in court (by myself) sobbing. At one stage when I was crying outside the court the Defendant told me to withdraw the claim and they would stop.
Justice Blue stated that I was not an exemplary witness but he could not realise the stress and distress I faced. However, the Defendant sent me to their psychiatrist for evaluation for the damages trial and he wrote in his report that that I described the trial as ‘horrendous’ and that I went home every night and sobbed. Luckily I had representation during the damages hearing and my QC asked the Defendant’s psychiatrist if he believed that I was telling the truth about the impact of the trial and he replied that he did. I did the best that I could against almost insurmountable odds and I won my case and set a global precedent that will assist others who are victimised by these websites and Google.
In his blog post (partially copied onto the Pissedconsumer.com post) Guadamuz took the same line as the Defendant – that it was my fault. Guadamuz appears to believe that the Internet should be free and is more important that individual rights. As I have noted, I fought a long battle to clear my name and some of the ‘free speech Nazis’ took exception. Some supporters pointed out to me that they were also reported on these websites and I published this on my blog. Guadamuz published my distressed tweets in Storify documents with sarcastic commentary. People suicide over cyberbullying and the Defendant’s own medical expert agreed that the only reason I survived was that I was more intelligent and resourcefull than most. But there were many months during this long battle that I just wanted to die. I have not been able to work since 2010 in a profession that I loved and in which I was extremely competent (medical and public health research). I did my PhD on a national scholarship as a mature aged student after working full time and mostly studying full-time to complete my BA and Honours degrees. Those years were tough but they pale in comparison to the last five years spent trying to clear my name. My career is permanently tainted but I won my case and I do not deserve to be traumatised by Sussex University.
I fought a long battle to clear my name, and in the process lost my career but some good did come out of it. Since I filed defamation proceedings (in 2011), Google has been quietly honouring some take down requests for other Australians falsely accused on Ripoff Report. I intend to use my experience to help others and, indeed, have written a number of notifications for people cyberbullied online that have succeeded in take down notices. I do this to help people and I can provide evidence of this if requested.
Guadamuz has published content designed to humiliate and, like all abusers, blames the victim. I have not considered myself to be a victim (rather, a fighter) so I use that term in a descriptive manner. Nonetheless, the distress that it has caused after
my name was cleared in a Supreme Court is immeasurable. It is unconscionable that a Sussex University staff member should misrepresent evidence in order to humiliate a Plaintiff for his own perverse reasons and should allow the misuse of my case to teach students. The University must have been aware of the original blog post and I question why no one challenged it. Surely there is someone in your University that realises the task faced by an unrepresented litigant against a multi-billion dollar company. It was a global precedent setting case and Guadamuz teaches in an academic technology and law department. Your academics cannot be so removed from reality or so cruel that this failed to attract any discussion.
It must have been evident that the publication of the blog post caused significant distress from my tweets (that Guadamuz published online). I asked him to review the evidence and he simply made fun of me. I am sure Guadamuz will humiliate me in front of his students but that is not the only issue at stake. You are teaching you people who will soon set the agenda in the modern Internet world that standing up for one’s rights against powerfull vested interests is not only wrong but deserves further defamation.
I had intended to lodge this complaint after the blog post was written but I had the upcoming damages trial and I was exhausted. I actually became quite physically ill after I won my case and there were many days in which I could barely get out of bed. I am the sole carer for my 93 year old father and it distresses him to watch me curled up and crying because I won and then was faced with further defamation by one of your University staff. I decided at the time to chose my battles but the publication of this latest defamation by Guadamuz and his attempt to blame and humiliate warrants immediate action. I have provided links to Guadamuz’s Storify content below. Note that Guadamuz’s reason for causing a successfull Plaintiff such distress is that he things the decision is wrong in law. This is evident from the sarcasm and cruel disregard for my offer to provide him with evidence. I intend to publish this complaint online as well as sending it to your Government Education Department and the Ministers responsible. I respectfully request a reply within seven days. I am able to provide further trial evidence upon request. I have not decided yet whether to release this complaint in a media statement. Sussex University must not support cyberbullying and the teaching of this to students is reprehensible. I intend to ensure that this addressed. If a media statement is necessary then I am prepared to pursue this!
Dr Janice Duffy
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