According to an article in Advertising Age, a NY-based Ad Agency is suing a blogger for copyright infringement, defamation and trade libel and injurious falsehood. Appears that the blogger, Lance Dutson, made negative remarks about the agency on his blog that revolved around the agency’s work for the Maine Office of Toursim. The agency apparently tried to get Mr. Dutson to remove the remarks and apologize. He said no. They sued. Repeat after me, “Never, never, underestimate the power of the blog for unintended consequences.”
Unforunately for the agency, the blogosphere flew to Mr. Dutson’s plight like bees to honey. According to Mr. Dutson’s latest post on his site, more than 200 blogs are now referencing him compared to just 2 before the suit. Seems that the negative PR to the agency from the cumulative effects of bloggers may have surpassed the harm they suffered from Mr. Dutson’s original comments. At the very least, there are a lot of eyes reading this story that would never have seen the original comments on Mr. Dutson’s blog.
This is another example of how blogging can alter the historical power dynamics of business. I don’t know anything about the financial strength of either Mr. Dutson nor the ad agency but if I was a wagering man (which I am), I would guess that the agency has the resources to use the legal system to make Mr. Dutson spend a lot of money on his defense. This is a common practice in the legal profession and explains why many small firms back away from challenging the entrenched larger firms even when the small fish have good cases. Bottom line is that it takes a LOT of money to litigate a dispute and power goes to those that can afford it. Justice is blind but it ain’t cheap.
While Mr. Dutson will certainly spend some money on attorney fees, it cost him NOTHING to have positive PR spread across the Web. In the old days (like a couple years ago), litigating a case in the press would require the press to actually want you to win. In the blogosphere, Mr. Dutson does not need to worry about the political will or economics of the traditional press to get “web time.” And there is NOTHING that the agency can do about this. The cannot enjoin the collective blogosphere from commenting on this case and opining on its merits or what they think about the agency themselves.
In the end, this is just one example of how blogging can play a part in leveling the business playing field.
How does this impact the real estate industry? Many of us who are (as we like to think) “in the know” debate about the future of real estate, about the new oohs and ahhs in real estate technology and the tidal wave of change that is looming. But the average joe or jane knows nothing about this stuff – yet. They buy and sell homes each and every day just like they did for the last 20 years. As blogs proliferate, so too will communication about the new and the old, and the good and the bad, in real estate. Average joes and janes will spread their opinions about new companies and new offerings and just like the ad agency, there will be an impact on how business is done.
Visionary brokers will figure this out and harness the immense power of social networking. Others, like the ad agency, will operate at its mercy.