Author Topic: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business  (Read 5406 times)

Chesleygirl

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http://people.com/human-interest/texas-newlyweds-who-publicly-bashed-wedding-photographer-over-125-fee-ordered-to-pay-1-million-for-defamation/

A Dallas wedding photographer is feeling vindicated after a jury awarded her $1.08 million in a defamation suit after she says a newly married couple went on a smear campaign to destroy her reputation, all over a $125 fee.

When the verdict came in on July 28 in Dallas County, it marked the end of a years-long battle between wedding photographer Andrea Polito and lifestyle blogger, Neely Moldovan, and her husband, Andrew Moldovan.

“I finally feel some vindication after almost three years of a legal battle brought on by a fabricated news story and a social media attack,” Polito says in a statement to PEOPLE. “I hope my story provides an example for businesses and consumers of how quickly a successful business and reputation can be damaged by false information and social media bullying.”

In a statement to PEOPLE, Neely says the couple believes they were merely defending themselves.

“We are stunned. We did what consumer advocates say to do: When you are wronged, you fight back,” the statement reads. “We were unhappy with a situation, so we complained like anyone would. This court decision tells consumers not to speak up for fear of fat legal bills and painful judgments. If this is the cost of standing up for what’s right, we should have given in to start with. But we hope to prevail in the end. We’d love nothing more than to put this behind us and focus on raising our five-month-old child.”

The Moldovans hired Polito’s company to photograph their wedding and related events in October 2014. The couple began emailing Polito for high-resolution photos just weeks after the wedding, though their contract stated that the couple would receive the photographs when their entire wedding album was complete. At that point, the couple had not yet completed an order form or paid the $125 fee for the photo album’s cover, which Polito gets custom made from Italy.

The Moldovans objected to the fee and according to a court petition, Polito emailed Neely on January 14, 2015 and “requested that Neely select the album cover, with the intention of waiving the cost of the cover.”

The couple went on camera with a local news station in January 2015 to complain that Polito’s company was holding their photographs “hostage.” This ignited a social media campaign and press tour that focused on the Moldovan’s version of the story and eventually led to the demise of Polito’s company, according to the photographer.

The couple managed to rally hundreds of their followers into leaving negative reviews and comments on popular wedding photography websites and Polito’s social pages.

“It instantly burned down the reputation that Andrea built up over 12 years,” Polito’s attorney, Dave Wishnew, tells PEOPLE. “She didn’t book any more weddings after that. It was done. The negative reviews destroyed her reputation, and in a business that is largely word-of-mouth, no one was referring her.”

The attacks left Polito humiliated, and she found herself downplaying her name out of fear people would search her online and see the stories.

“I used to love getting out of bed in the morning, I was excited and I had a purpose, and they took it away,” she says. “For the past two-and-a-half years, I’ve felt completely worthless.”

Wishnew argued that the Moldovans’ negative social media posts about Polito’s company were more about promoting themselves than about their photographs. “They admit in their messages and the evidence in court that they wanted it to go viral, and they wanted it to ruin Andrea’s business,” he says. “The more traffic that goes to Neely’s blog, the more they can have sponsored posts, and more sponsored posts means more money.”

The Dallas County jury agreed with Wishnew that the Moldovans’ social media campaign was done out of malice and that Polito had followed the terms of the contract they initially agreed to. Finally, Polito’s name was cleared.

“When the jury came out and said that, it felt like I got ‘me’ back, and that’s all I ever wanted. I just wanted my name back, for me,” she says.

Wishnew adds that he was thrilled when the verdict came in. “Andrea has been through hell and back,” he says. “It was about clearing a good person’s name who was dragged through the mud for a long time. For Andrea, this is the first step to rebuilding a reputation that was torn down.”

MgoSam

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2017, 01:20:01 PM »
Saw this story, I support the photographer. The couple didn't just leave a bad review but trashed the photographer on social media, in the media, and on their blog for allegedly charging for a book. The photographer was willing to give them the book but instead they ignored her and went on the news to blast her. Sadly I believe they did this to get some attention to the blog that the couple has.

jinga nation

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2017, 01:48:35 PM »
Speaking of the evils of FB, and Social Media, here's a former FB exec on his guilt, and why he doesn't use social media and doesn't let his kids use it:

https://youtu.be/PMotykw0SIk?t=1282

SnackDog

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2017, 01:58:45 PM »
If they made enough on the blog to pay the million dollars it could work out well for all parties in the end.

Dabnasty

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2017, 02:11:33 PM »
This scenario is one aspect of the internet and our level of connectedness that terrifies me. We first saw it with viral videos and images but any little idea that lands in the right place at the right time can explode overnight because it just so happened to catch people's eyes. Many of these things are innocuous, but not all. And if someone figures out how to harness this power...and at least to some extent they already have. Like in this story.

Just last night I read about Patti Labelle's new line of sweet potato pies at Wal-Mart and how a single internet review by a mildly entertaining guy who sang her music between bites of pie went viral. Before that the pies were selling, but not great. After the video, people are driving long distances to find the pies because some stores are running out of stock. People are buying and reselling pies at >1,000% markup. That video was more effective than any advertisement Wal-Mart could have paid thousands of dollars for. And I'll bet most of the people who read this will now go and search for this video so now I'm contributing. Shit.

Dabnasty

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2017, 02:21:09 PM »
If they made enough on the blog to pay the million dollars it could work out well for all parties in the end.
Almost all parties. If the photographer, the bloggers, and the advertisers who paid the bloggers all make out - somebody has to pay.

I suppose if all of the advertisements were for good products that truly improved the lives of those who bought them it could be a win-win-win-win. But they weren't :)

Oh, and were the 2.5 years that this really sucked for the photographer worth it? I mean I'd take that deal but still.

Timodeus

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2017, 02:26:02 PM »
This scenario is one aspect of the internet and our level of connectedness that terrifies me. We first saw it with viral videos and images but any little idea that lands in the right place at the right time can explode overnight because it just so happened to catch people's eyes. Many of these things are innocuous, but not all. And if someone figures out how to harness this power...and at least to some extent they already have. Like in this story.

Just last night I read about Patti Labelle's new line of sweet potato pies at Wal-Mart and how a single internet review by a mildly entertaining guy who sang her music between bites of pie went viral. Before that the pies were selling, but not great. After the video, people are driving long distances to find the pies because some stores are running out of stock. People are buying and reselling pies at >1,000% markup. That video was more effective than any advertisement Wal-Mart could have paid thousands of dollars for. And I'll bet most of the people who read this will now go and search for this video so now I'm contributing. Shit.

I won't, because I've already seen it! Also, thanks to the person above who linked the Youtube video about social media, good watch.

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2017, 02:47:11 PM »
Great piece that adds to the conversation about this lawsuit.  No question the bride and groom were being tremendous assholes, but it was probably well within the photographer's ability to prevent this dispute from escalating the way it did.

https://abovethelaw.com/2017/08/if-you-dont-nickel-and-dime-your-clients-you-wont-have-to-sue-when-they-complaint-about-you-online/

Chesleygirl

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2017, 02:53:50 PM »
If they made enough on the blog to pay the million dollars it could work out well for all parties in the end.

I don't think she made that much on her blog, I could be wrong.

Chesleygirl

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2017, 03:09:38 PM »
Speaking of the evils of FB, and Social Media, here's a former FB exec on his guilt, and why he doesn't use social media and doesn't let his kids use it:

https://youtu.be/PMotykw0SIk?t=1282

This wasn't entirely on social media, though. Most of the bashing occurred on the woman's blogs (Neely Moldovan), online reviews around the internet that she and her husband published, and they even invited NBC to air a segment on television about their treatment from the wedding photographer. Which I haven't seen this yet, but I want to dig around on youtube for it.

I listened to that guy talk for a few minutes on the evils of social media, such as Facebook. I don't agree with all his opinions. I use Facebook because it's the only way I can keep up with relatives and friends who live all over the world. Since I can't be buying plane tickets all the time to visit. I enjoy seeing updates about their lives and pictures of their families and experiences. I don't use Facebook to get into political arguments. I've only ever reviewed one business on there. In my experience, people who don't use Facebook, don't do so because they have nothing to put on it. That sounds kinda mean towards them, it's not meant to be. It's just what I've observed with those people who don't use social media and bash those who do.

« Last Edit: December 11, 2017, 03:12:02 PM by Chesleygirl »

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2017, 03:17:59 PM »
Fuck.  That is awful.  $1M seems about right for destroying someone's career.

GF is a self-employed photographer, and seeing this kind of thing scares the hell out of me.

Chesleygirl

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2017, 03:19:57 PM »
My Dad was a wedding photographer for 15-20 years. This was pre-internet. He got clients through word of mouth referrals.  No online reviews back then. Perhaps there should have been. He got drunk one time and forgot to show up at the wedding. I do think the public has a right to know about these things.

I've never heard of charging additional fee for an album cover, separate from what someone already paid for the album. So it would have seemed strange to me, too. Not that it was okay for them to trash her business, but I can't help but wonder, should photographer have handled it differently and would the outcome not have been as bad?
« Last Edit: December 11, 2017, 03:22:58 PM by Chesleygirl »

ixtap

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2017, 03:45:09 PM »
Headline should be "couple fined for slandering photographer for performing according to contract."

NoraLenderbee

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2017, 05:32:26 PM »
Quote
The Moldovans objected to the fee and according to a court petition, Polito emailed Neely on January 14, 2015 and “requested that Neely select the album cover, with the intention of waiving the cost of the cover.”

The couple objected to the fee for the album cover. The photographer offered to waive the fee. That was exactly what the couple was asking for. Why didn't the couple accept this offer? Am I reading this right?

Chesleygirl

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2017, 06:14:32 PM »
Quote
The Moldovans objected to the fee and according to a court petition, Polito emailed Neely on January 14, 2015 and “requested that Neely select the album cover, with the intention of waiving the cost of the cover.”

The couple objected to the fee for the album cover. The photographer offered to waive the fee. That was exactly what the couple was asking for. Why didn't the couple accept this offer? Am I reading this right?

From what I understand, they'd paid around 4-6K in advance, they thought it included an album. So after the wedding, when told they needed to pay $125 extra for an album cover, they felt  it was unfair extra charge. Photographer wouldn't release their photos until they paid the $125 fee. By the time they were doing a public news story with NBC about it, the photographer agreed to waive the fee. That was right before the news story aired on television. At that point, it was too late, the damage was done.

NoraLenderbee

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #15 on: December 14, 2017, 03:34:42 PM »
Quote
The Moldovans objected to the fee and according to a court petition, Polito emailed Neely on January 14, 2015 and “requested that Neely select the album cover, with the intention of waiving the cost of the cover.”

The couple objected to the fee for the album cover. The photographer offered to waive the fee. That was exactly what the couple was asking for. Why didn't the couple accept this offer? Am I reading this right?

From what I understand, they'd paid around 4-6K in advance, they thought it included an album. So after the wedding, when told they needed to pay $125 extra for an album cover, they felt  it was unfair extra charge. Photographer wouldn't release their photos until they paid the $125 fee. By the time they were doing a public news story with NBC about it, the photographer agreed to waive the fee. That was right before the news story aired on television. At that point, it was too late, the damage was done.

Oh, I see. thanks.

GuitarStv

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2017, 08:57:24 AM »
Headline should be "couple fined for slandering photographer for performing according to contract."

+1

I kinda feel inclined to take the photographer's side on this one.  WTF.

Chesleygirl

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #17 on: December 15, 2017, 09:47:53 AM »
Headline should be "couple fined for slandering photographer for performing according to contract."

+1

I kinda feel inclined to take the photographer's side on this one.  WTF.

I did too, in the beginning. Until I read more about the case. If I were a business owner, I'd waive a $125 fee if the customer had already paid thousands of dollars. She stubbornly held out for that small amount of money. Based on what I know I would not personally use her photography services. I 'm not even sure if the negative publicity is what ruined her business, although I'm sure it didn't help.

MgoSam

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #18 on: December 15, 2017, 10:01:17 AM »
If I were a business owner, I'd waive a $125 fee if the customer had already paid thousands of dollars.

See there's the rub. I am a business owner and I think you would think a little differently if you ran a business.

It is incredibly easy to 'just throw in the $125 book, they paid a lot of money already.' My response is, "So what?"

ketchup

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #19 on: December 15, 2017, 10:10:39 AM »
If I were a business owner, I'd waive a $125 fee if the customer had already paid thousands of dollars.

See there's the rub. I am a business owner and I think you would think a little differently if you ran a business.

It is incredibly easy to 'just throw in the $125 book, they paid a lot of money already.' My response is, "So what?"
I agree.  Self employed people get screwed all the time by being nickeled and dimed by complainy clients and stupid crap.

GuitarStv

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #20 on: December 15, 2017, 10:17:01 AM »
Headline should be "couple fined for slandering photographer for performing according to contract."

+1

I kinda feel inclined to take the photographer's side on this one.  WTF.

I did too, in the beginning. Until I read more about the case. If I were a business owner, I'd waive a $125 fee if the customer had already paid thousands of dollars. She stubbornly held out for that small amount of money. Based on what I know I would not personally use her photography services. I 'm not even sure if the negative publicity is what ruined her business, although I'm sure it didn't help.

The couple agreed to pay the fee when they signed the contract.

Put it a different way.  You have a contract with your employer.  If your employer said "Hey Chelseygirl, it's near the end of the year and we've already paid you thousands of dollars.  We're going to withhold 500$ from your last paycheck." would you be fine with that?

The couple are the employer.

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #21 on: December 15, 2017, 10:21:42 AM »
Good for her.

Chesleygirl

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #22 on: December 15, 2017, 10:39:14 AM »
If I were a business owner, I'd waive a $125 fee if the customer had already paid thousands of dollars.

See there's the rub. I am a business owner and I think you would think a little differently if you ran a business.

It is incredibly easy to 'just throw in the $125 book, they paid a lot of money already.' My response is, "So what?"

My dad was a wedding photographer for many years. He said he'd waive a fee that small in a heartbeat, even if it was in the contract.

ixtap

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #23 on: December 15, 2017, 10:45:40 AM »
If I were a business owner, I'd waive a $125 fee if the customer had already paid thousands of dollars.

See there's the rub. I am a business owner and I think you would think a little differently if you ran a business.

It is incredibly easy to 'just throw in the $125 book, they paid a lot of money already.' My response is, "So what?"

My dad was a wedding photographer for many years. He said he'd waive a fee that small in a heartbeat, even if it was in the contract.

That doesn't change the fact that the couple never even chose a cover.

Chesleygirl

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #24 on: December 15, 2017, 10:50:44 AM »
If I were a business owner, I'd waive a $125 fee if the customer had already paid thousands of dollars.

See there's the rub. I am a business owner and I think you would think a little differently if you ran a business.

It is incredibly easy to 'just throw in the $125 book, they paid a lot of money already.' My response is, "So what?"

My dad was a wedding photographer for many years. He said he'd waive a fee that small in a heartbeat, even if it was in the contract.

That doesn't change the fact that the couple never even chose a cover.

I still wonder why the cover doesn't come with the album.  When I bought my wedding album, it included a cover.

Josiecat

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #25 on: December 15, 2017, 12:00:58 PM »
The photographer was having the covers specially created in Italy. 

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #26 on: December 15, 2017, 07:45:24 PM »
I have watched this case from the beginning. The female half of this couple is a somewhat well-known blogger who was using this incident to get biggest exposure for her blog and basically screwed the photographer to grab 15 minutes of fame. I think it was a calculated move on her part which blew up in her face spectacularly. The photographer deserves every penny she was rewarded. The maliciously set out to ruin her so the blog would go viral.

gerardc

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #27 on: December 15, 2017, 09:36:47 PM »
The blogger was not right into not paying the $125 according to contract, obviously.

However they were right in writing any review they wanted, or any news story, blog post, etc. stating their opinion and their experience. Since when is expressing your opinion illegal? WTF America. We shouldn't be responsible for consequences of our bad reviews.

This scenario is one aspect of the internet and our level of connectedness that terrifies me. We first saw it with viral videos and images but any little idea that lands in the right place at the right time can explode overnight because it just so happened to catch people's eyes. Many of these things are innocuous, but not all. And if someone figures out how to harness this power...and at least to some extent they already have. Like in this story.

Just last night I read about Patti Labelle's new line of sweet potato pies at Wal-Mart and how a single internet review by a mildly entertaining guy who sang her music between bites of pie went viral. Before that the pies were selling, but not great. After the video, people are driving long distances to find the pies because some stores are running out of stock. People are buying and reselling pies at >1,000% markup. That video was more effective than any advertisement Wal-Mart could have paid thousands of dollars for. And I'll bet most of the people who read this will now go and search for this video so now I'm contributing. Shit.

Yeah and you could have made that whole story up and it'd have still worked for a few people. That's why we get those "clickbait" new articles now, titled "You won't believe what this couple did to get their hands on these pies" and people eat it up.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2017, 09:42:40 PM by gerardc »

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #28 on: December 15, 2017, 09:58:38 PM »
The blogger was not right into not paying the $125 according to contract, obviously.

However they were right in writing any review they wanted, or any news story, blog post, etc. stating their opinion and their experience. Since when is expressing your opinion illegal? WTF America. We shouldn't be responsible for consequences of our bad reviews.

This scenario is one aspect of the internet and our level of connectedness that terrifies me. We first saw it with viral videos and images but any little idea that lands in the right place at the right time can explode overnight because it just so happened to catch people's eyes. Many of these things are innocuous, but not all. And if someone figures out how to harness this power...and at least to some extent they already have. Like in this story.

Just last night I read about Patti Labelle's new line of sweet potato pies at Wal-Mart and how a single internet review by a mildly entertaining guy who sang her music between bites of pie went viral. Before that the pies were selling, but not great. After the video, people are driving long distances to find the pies because some stores are running out of stock. People are buying and reselling pies at >1,000% markup. That video was more effective than any advertisement Wal-Mart could have paid thousands of dollars for. And I'll bet most of the people who read this will now go and search for this video so now I'm contributing. Shit.

Yeah and you could have made that whole story up and it'd have still worked for a few people. That's why we get those "clickbait" new articles now, titled "You won't believe what this couple did to get their hands on these pies" and people eat it up.

I think people should be responsible for the consequences of what they publish. The blogger set out to harm the photographer for her own gain. In the process she destroyed the photographer's livelihood. That is not an innocuous act. Furthermore, the blogger did a lot more than just leave a bad review: she deliberately whipped up a media vendetta.

If I had a lit match and tossed it into dry grass next to someone's house, nobody would take me seriously if I said that I had every right to toss that lit match, because America, and therefore I should not be held accountable to repair the damages my actions cause to others. The logic is faulty because of the conflation of the issue of freedom and the issue of accountability, which are two separate things.

Freedom to act in no way implies immunity from the consequences of that action, intended or unintended. It's why we all carry umprella policies.

gerardc

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #29 on: December 15, 2017, 10:08:03 PM »
The blogger was not right into not paying the $125 according to contract, obviously.

However they were right in writing any review they wanted, or any news story, blog post, etc. stating their opinion and their experience. Since when is expressing your opinion illegal? WTF America. We shouldn't be responsible for consequences of our bad reviews.

This scenario is one aspect of the internet and our level of connectedness that terrifies me. We first saw it with viral videos and images but any little idea that lands in the right place at the right time can explode overnight because it just so happened to catch people's eyes. Many of these things are innocuous, but not all. And if someone figures out how to harness this power...and at least to some extent they already have. Like in this story.

Just last night I read about Patti Labelle's new line of sweet potato pies at Wal-Mart and how a single internet review by a mildly entertaining guy who sang her music between bites of pie went viral. Before that the pies were selling, but not great. After the video, people are driving long distances to find the pies because some stores are running out of stock. People are buying and reselling pies at >1,000% markup. That video was more effective than any advertisement Wal-Mart could have paid thousands of dollars for. And I'll bet most of the people who read this will now go and search for this video so now I'm contributing. Shit.

Yeah and you could have made that whole story up and it'd have still worked for a few people. That's why we get those "clickbait" new articles now, titled "You won't believe what this couple did to get their hands on these pies" and people eat it up.

I think people should be responsible for the consequences of what they publish. The blogger set out to harm the photographer for her own gain. In the process she destroyed the photographer's livelihood. That is not an innocuous act. Furthermore, the blogger did a lot more than just leave a bad review: she deliberately whipped up a media vendetta.

If I had a lit match and tossed it into dry grass next to someone's house, nobody would take me seriously if I said that I had every right to toss that lit match, because America, and therefore I should not be held accountable to repair the damages my actions cause to others. The logic is faulty because of the conflation of the issue of freedom and the issue of accountability, which are two separate things.

Freedom to act in no way implies immunity from the consequences of that action, intended or unintended. It's why we all carry umprella policies.

You're confusing consequence and fault. Writing a bad review doesn't necessarily cause a business to go down, what causes it to go down is that other people reasonably believe the review and don't agree with the business practice. Yes, the review exposed that business practice (the $125 fee) and as a consequence the business went down, but it's still not the reviewer fault, because writing the review isn't wrong in itself.

"Responsibilities for your actions" goes way too far in the US. If you write a sappy love song, and I just had a break-up and commit suicide with a note saying it's from your song, should you be held accountable? Consequences. Had you not written that song, there would be no suicide. So why don't you take responsibility? Because you did nothing wrong.

Chesleygirl

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #30 on: December 16, 2017, 06:46:58 PM »
If there's a lesson to take from all this, it's that there can be consequences for what people choose to say on the internet.

crispy

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #31 on: December 16, 2017, 08:04:16 PM »
The blogger was not right into not paying the $125 according to contract, obviously.

However they were right in writing any review they wanted, or any news story, blog post, etc. stating their opinion and their experience. Since when is expressing your opinion illegal? WTF America. We shouldn't be responsible for consequences of our bad reviews.

This scenario is one aspect of the internet and our level of connectedness that terrifies me. We first saw it with viral videos and images but any little idea that lands in the right place at the right time can explode overnight because it just so happened to catch people's eyes. Many of these things are innocuous, but not all. And if someone figures out how to harness this power...and at least to some extent they already have. Like in this story.

Just last night I read about Patti Labelle's new line of sweet potato pies at Wal-Mart and how a single internet review by a mildly entertaining guy who sang her music between bites of pie went viral. Before that the pies were selling, but not great. After the video, people are driving long distances to find the pies because some stores are running out of stock. People are buying and reselling pies at >1,000% markup. That video was more effective than any advertisement Wal-Mart could have paid thousands of dollars for. And I'll bet most of the people who read this will now go and search for this video so now I'm contributing. Shit.

Yeah and you could have made that whole story up and it'd have still worked for a few people. That's why we get those "clickbait" new articles now, titled "You won't believe what this couple did to get their hands on these pies" and people eat it up.

I think people should be responsible for the consequences of what they publish. The blogger set out to harm the photographer for her own gain. In the process she destroyed the photographer's livelihood. That is not an innocuous act. Furthermore, the blogger did a lot more than just leave a bad review: she deliberately whipped up a media vendetta.

If I had a lit match and tossed it into dry grass next to someone's house, nobody would take me seriously if I said that I had every right to toss that lit match, because America, and therefore I should not be held accountable to repair the damages my actions cause to others. The logic is faulty because of the conflation of the issue of freedom and the issue of accountability, which are two separate things.

Freedom to act in no way implies immunity from the consequences of that action, intended or unintended. It's why we all carry umprella policies.

You're confusing consequence and fault. Writing a bad review doesn't necessarily cause a business to go down, what causes it to go down is that other people reasonably believe the review and don't agree with the business practice. Yes, the review exposed that business practice (the $125 fee) and as a consequence the business went down, but it's still not the reviewer fault, because writing the review isn't wrong in itself.

"Responsibilities for your actions" goes way too far in the US. If you write a sappy love song, and I just had a break-up and commit suicide with a note saying it's from your song, should you be held accountable? Consequences. Had you not written that song, there would be no suicide. So why don't you take responsibility? Because you did nothing wrong.

They didn't just write a bad review. They went on TV and lied about the photographers actions and the contract that they signed while playing the victim. They  used her blog to bash the photographer. They had friends, family members, and blog followers create accounts and spam review sites, Facebook, and social media with negative reviews. The photographer not only lost huge amounts of business, but she received death threats that were "liked" on social media by this couple. Why? Because they didn't read or understand the contract that they signed. They wanted to take this woman down and used any means necessary to do it.

gerardc

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #32 on: December 16, 2017, 08:18:34 PM »
They didn't just write a bad review. They went on TV and lied about the photographers actions and the contract that they signed while playing the victim. They  used her blog to bash the photographer. They had friends, family members, and blog followers create accounts and spam review sites, Facebook, and social media with negative reviews. The photographer not only lost huge amounts of business, but she received death threats that were "liked" on social media by this couple. Why? Because they didn't read or understand the contract that they signed. They wanted to take this woman down and used any means necessary to do it.

Sounds fair to me. Is boycotting illegal now? As I understand from boycott law, boycotts are only illegal if practiced by a group to favor another business, i.e. anti-competition.

Just because the photographer had a contract doesn't mean they don't have to live with the consequences of their bad business practices.

marty998

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #33 on: December 16, 2017, 08:28:44 PM »
If I were a business owner, I'd waive a $125 fee if the customer had already paid thousands of dollars.

See there's the rub. I am a business owner and I think you would think a little differently if you ran a business.

It is incredibly easy to 'just throw in the $125 book, they paid a lot of money already.' My response is, "So what?"

My dad was a wedding photographer for many years. He said he'd waive a fee that small in a heartbeat, even if it was in the contract.

That doesn't change the fact that the couple never even chose a cover.

I still wonder why the cover doesn't come with the album.  When I bought my wedding album, it included a cover.

Comes down to the individual business and their pricing decisions. Some will quote an all in price, some will itemise. It should all be disclosed in advance.

On a $4000 job that $125 could mean then difference between a $200 take home profit or a $325. It makes a difference to small business owners as mentioned above. I know someone who is a baby photographer. She has clients who raise their eyebrows at a $500 charge for 1 photograph, but when you consider the 1-2 hour sessions, having to purchase (and repurchase) all the props (because babies puke and shit and all), then spending a couple of hours in a dark room studio that you've had to set up yourself, there isn't a lot of profit left after expenses to be able to live off.

As also mentioned above, when your business relies on word of mouth you're constantly having to spend time simply acquiring new customers - it's not like you can reliably count on repeat business for weddings lol. There's a customer acquisition cost that has to be covered.

Many people simply fail to recognise the concept of "overhead" that needs to be factored into the cost of production.


Chesleygirl

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #34 on: December 16, 2017, 10:25:26 PM »
I wonder how this couple will pay off the $1.08 million. It's not dischargeable in a bankruptcy proceeding.

TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #35 on: December 17, 2017, 12:58:32 AM »
The blogger was not right into not paying the $125 according to contract, obviously.

However they were right in writing any review they wanted, or any news story, blog post, etc. stating their opinion and their experience. Since when is expressing your opinion illegal? WTF America. We shouldn't be responsible for consequences of our bad reviews.

This scenario is one aspect of the internet and our level of connectedness that terrifies me. We first saw it with viral videos and images but any little idea that lands in the right place at the right time can explode overnight because it just so happened to catch people's eyes. Many of these things are innocuous, but not all. And if someone figures out how to harness this power...and at least to some extent they already have. Like in this story.

Just last night I read about Patti Labelle's new line of sweet potato pies at Wal-Mart and how a single internet review by a mildly entertaining guy who sang her music between bites of pie went viral. Before that the pies were selling, but not great. After the video, people are driving long distances to find the pies because some stores are running out of stock. People are buying and reselling pies at >1,000% markup. That video was more effective than any advertisement Wal-Mart could have paid thousands of dollars for. And I'll bet most of the people who read this will now go and search for this video so now I'm contributing. Shit.

Yeah and you could have made that whole story up and it'd have still worked for a few people. That's why we get those "clickbait" new articles now, titled "You won't believe what this couple did to get their hands on these pies" and people eat it up.

I think people should be responsible for the consequences of what they publish. The blogger set out to harm the photographer for her own gain. In the process she destroyed the photographer's livelihood. That is not an innocuous act. Furthermore, the blogger did a lot more than just leave a bad review: she deliberately whipped up a media vendetta.

If I had a lit match and tossed it into dry grass next to someone's house, nobody would take me seriously if I said that I had every right to toss that lit match, because America, and therefore I should not be held accountable to repair the damages my actions cause to others. The logic is faulty because of the conflation of the issue of freedom and the issue of accountability, which are two separate things.

Freedom to act in no way implies immunity from the consequences of that action, intended or unintended. It's why we all carry umprella policies.

You're confusing consequence and fault. Writing a bad review doesn't necessarily cause a business to go down, what causes it to go down is that other people reasonably believe the review and don't agree with the business practice. Yes, the review exposed that business practice (the $125 fee) and as a consequence the business went down, but it's still not the reviewer fault, because writing the review isn't wrong in itself.

"Responsibilities for your actions" goes way too far in the US. If you write a sappy love song, and I just had a break-up and commit suicide with a note saying it's from your song, should you be held accountable? Consequences. Had you not written that song, there would be no suicide. So why don't you take responsibility? Because you did nothing wrong.

According to the logic you just used, me tossing a lit match into some dry grass next to a person's house wouldn't cause the house to go up in flames.

The example of a sappy love song is not applicable in this case because you're talking about something that is not targeted or directed at any specific individual, nor does it constitute a deliberate personal attack. The smear campaign (of which the review was a portion) definitely was.

The blogger didn't simply express an opinion by leaving one negative review. Nor did she publish a vent about wedding photographers overall, or simply whine about the details of a contract she herself signed and failed to uphold. She deliberately started a troll storm using her own blog, various social media platforms, and even a TV news channel, and recruited other people to leave negative reviews on her behalf. She flat-out lied, simply to drum up drama and blog traffic while avoiding a fee she'd already agreed to pay. That action goes far beyond simply expressing her opinion as a private individual.

The music equivalent of what the blogger did would not be writing a sappy love song that inspired someone's suicide. It would be writing a song about a friend's virulent STD or other medical condition, including a bunch of embarrassing and confidential information that only a friend would know, mentioning that person by name in the song, and publish it on an album from a major studio without that person's permission.

There's a phrase I hear sometimes: "Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining." It means: don't do something deliberately hurtful or damaging to me and then pretend you had nothing to do with what happened or are in fact the real victim. The blogger (figuratively) peed on the photographer's leg as if she were a racehorse with aim. She did as much as possible to deliberately harm the photographer's business, including involving a news station that had nothing to do with the billing dispute. Then, when her attack succeeded beyond her wildest toxic Bridezilla dreams, she tried to deny that she was responsible. It seems to me that the court punished her with a fine large enough to get her attention and to hopefully be noticed by everybody else she misled and manipulated.

gerardc

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #36 on: December 17, 2017, 09:16:09 AM »
According to the logic you just used, me tossing a lit match into some dry grass next to a person's house wouldn't cause the house to go up in flames.

The example of a sappy love song is not applicable in this case because you're talking about something that is not targeted or directed at any specific individual, nor does it constitute a deliberate personal attack. The smear campaign (of which the review was a portion) definitely was.

That's not what the law says. If you don't secure the icy entrance of your house in the winter, or fence off your pool in the summer, and someone gets hurts, you'll be liable, right? Even though you didn't target a specific individual. Liability is really a question of "who's at fault" rather than targeting someone, or even deliberately causing harm.

TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: Couple Fined $1.08 Million for bad reviews of wedding photography business
« Reply #37 on: December 18, 2017, 09:47:52 AM »
According to the logic you just used, me tossing a lit match into some dry grass next to a person's house wouldn't cause the house to go up in flames.

The example of a sappy love song is not applicable in this case because you're talking about something that is not targeted or directed at any specific individual, nor does it constitute a deliberate personal attack. The smear campaign (of which the review was a portion) definitely was.

That's not what the law says. If you don't secure the icy entrance of your house in the winter, or fence off your pool in the summer, and someone gets hurts, you'll be liable, right? Even though you didn't target a specific individual. Liability is really a question of "who's at fault" rather than targeting someone, or even deliberately causing harm.

Actually, on the subject of music publication (not to be confused with accident liability), you're dead wrong about what the law says.

You may not be old enough to recall a situation when this actually went to trial. In 1985, two drunken, drugged-out teens shot themselves after listening to a Judas Priest song. Their parents and one of the young men who (briefly) survived his suicide attempt sued the band for "causing" their suicide. Since the singers wore a lot of black and made a lot of money performing heavy metal, people jumped on the bandwagon and started pretending to find "subliminal" messages in everything. They'd slow tracks down, play them backward, and pretend to find hidden messages or lyrics.

http://www.nytimes.com/1990/07/17/arts/2-families-sue-heavy-metal-band-as-having-driven-sons-to-suicide.html

The jury found the band "not guilty" but was swayed by the religious propaganda claiming that it was possible to have subliminal messages put into a recording that would affect the behavior of the person hearing it. Such an idea seems irrational now but it was a common belief in the religious community in the USA at the time.

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/judas-priests-subliminal-message-trial-rob-halford-looks-back-20150824


"Gloomy Sunday", or the famous Hungarian Suicide Song, did not result in any charges or convictions whatsoever despite the fact the composer later committed suicide himself. Billie Holliday, who recorded the most famous English language version, was never charged with anything suicide related nor was there even one suicide reported as a result of the song.

https://www.snopes.com/music/songs/gloomy.asp


In fact, musicians have been charged or sued over and over when people commit acts of violence, and they're cleared every time, because sane and reasonable people don't respond to a song by becoming violent.

A person who's going to become violent will find an excuse of some sort sooner or later. Take the song out of the equation, and they will simply find another reason or another excuse. People commit acts of violence against themselves or others because they give themselves permission to do so. There's always a reason "why", and that reason is frequently trivial because it's basically being used as an excuse for something the person wanted to do anyway.

http://www.laweekly.com/music/six-most-idiotic-attempts-to-blame-musicians-for-violent-events-or-the-tucson-tragedy-was-caused-by-a-crazy-person-not-by-drowning-pools-bodies-hit-the-floor-2411644


In a liability case, if the prosecution can show that the bad incident could not have happened without the critical thing that puts the defendant at fault (the easily accessible pool, or the icy walkway, to use your two examples), and if the incident could have been predicted by any reasonable person and prevented by the defense, then yes-- you've got fault. Tying the discussion back to the original case of the photographer versus the blogger, the collapse of the photographer's wedding business was clearly not the result of a bad review, but a series of deliberate lies and misinformation from the blogger in which the blogger enlisted the aid of other people, including a TV news crew, to smear the photographer's reputation with the intent of destroying her business... rather than pay a $125 fee that was part of the package the blogger ordered and that the blogger had already agreed, in writing, to pay. The harassment campaign was targeted at the photographer, nobody else. It was *intended* to destroy the photographer's business, and it did. The troll storm could easily have been called off by the blogger, but she did not do so because she was benefiting financially from all the drama and Web traffic to her site. This case has all the elements that you yourself identified as creating "fault": a clear, unusual, and predictable risk to the victim due to actions taken by the perpetrator, and a perpetrator who could have prevented the damage (by not engaging in a malicious attack).

Here, incidentally, is a case where a person *was* found guilty of inciting a suicide.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/03/us/michelle-carter-texting-suicide-sentencing/index.html


Take a look at the differences between the Michelle Carter case and the rest of these cases. Michelle Carter sent messages directly to someone she knew well, who she knew was considering suicide, encouraging him to do it. When he wavered, she pressured him, taunted him, dared him, and urged him. The court found that her unrelenting pressure was a factor in his decision to follow through with the suicide: the suicide would not have occurred without Michelle Carter's actions. Likewise, the collapse of the photographer's wedding business would not have occurred without the troll storm and news investigation incited by the blogger.

Any reasonable business can survive an occasional negative review on Yelp, the Better Business Bureau, or any other neutral site. What was done to the photographer was radically different.