Wednesday, July 8, 2009

La Russa Drops Twitter Lawsuit

Poor Twitter.

After some good public relations this year, the social networking site has been forced to deal with the ridiculous lawsuit of St. Louis Cardinals baseball manager Tony La Russa:

St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has quietly dropped his lawsuit against the social networking site Twitter Inc. A one-paragraph statement filed June 26 with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco said La Russa had dropped all claims - and that San Francisco-based Twitter did not compensate him in exchange. It also said he could not refile the same complaint.

Calls and e-mails to La Russa's attorney, Gregory McCoy, and to Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, were not returned Tuesday. Twitter attorney Rodger Cole said in an e-mail that he was not authorized to discuss the case.

La Russa's lawsuit, originally filed in San Francisco Superior Court in May and transferred to federal court on June 5, alleged trademark infringement, "cybersquatting" and misappropriation of his name. It claimed an unauthorized page that used his name caused emotional distress by making light of his DUI charge and the deaths of two Cardinals pitchers in recent seasons.

La Russa said June 5 that he and Twitter had reached a settlement, with Twitter agreeing to pay legal fees and make a donation to his California-based Animal Rescue Foundation.

But Twitter, in a blog posting, said there was no settlement. Stone later told The Associated Press in an e-mail that Twitter resolved the account impersonation in accordance with its terms of service.

Corynne McSherry, a lawyer who's been following the case for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said ending the short-lived suit was a "very sensible thing to do." The foundation consists of lawyers and activists protecting fair use and free speech on the Internet.

 I mean, this isn't even clever:

The impostor's Twitter account bearing La Russa's name is no longer active. The lawsuit included a screen shot of three tweets. One posted on April 19 said: "Lost 2 out of 3, but we made it out of Chicago without one drunk driving incident or dead pitcher."

Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile died of a heart condition in his Chicago hotel room in 2002. Cardinals reliever Josh Hancock died in an auto accident in April 2007, and the medical examiner measured his blood-alcohol level at 0.157 - nearly twice the legal limit.

Who, in their right mind, would think that that was actually La Russa making that posting on Twitter? La Russa's case would have had more merit if Twitter actually required proof of identity. My solution? A credit card fee of exactly one dollar would solve 99% of Twitter's problems right now--the one dollar fee would carry a stipulation that the Twitterer would be required to maintain the name on the credit card in association with their account. This would allow legitimate businesses and real people to have a social networking presence on Twitter that could, at least, carry some validity. Certainly, users could use stolen credit cards, but why would you go on Twitter in the name of the person whose credit card you stole? All it would take to shut down that account would be a simple fraud notice from the victim.

La Russa should go back to managing the Cardinals and stop worrying about Twitter. With a two game lead as of today in the National League central, the LAST thing one would want to do is start chasing lawsuits around.

Twitter is mired in stupidity right now, and I don't even bother to use it these days. There are far too many marketers and scammers, there is an abundance of worthless Spam, and no one clicks the links that I post over there anyway. I still have over 1,300 followers, but I simply don't care anymore.

Plus, I hate the fact that there are people who set up Twitter accounts and assume some sort of fake persona or fake name, as if that sort of thing would be funny. It is not funny, sir. It is horrible, vicious, mean and a waste of time.

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