Most websites and major search engines, including Google, Bing, and Yahoo! have polices that they will voluntarily remove content from webpages and search results if given a valid court order declaring that content is defamatory.
Getting a court order requires filing a lawsuit. There are many important considerationsto take in to account when filing a lawsuit. Only a licensed attorney experienced in the area of Internet defamation can properly advise as to the risks, costs, and other considerations.
If a valid court order is obtained that declares that certain content is defamatory or should otherwise be removed, that order can then be presented to search engines and websites who will in turn typically remove the content voluntarily.
In many cases, content is authored or posted by individuals who are anonymous or cannot be easily identified. In cases such as these, it is necessary to file what is called a “John Doe” lawsuit against a fictitious defendant.
Depending on the state where the lawsuit is filed, efforts must then be undertaken to uncover the identity of the anonymous author. This usually requires subpoenaing websites, hosts, and ISPs to determine the identity of the anonymous author. If for some reason it is impossible to determine a defendant’s identity, even after appropriate due diligence is taken, a motion for service by publication can be requested and then default can then be filed.
No. Every website and search engine has different requirements as what constitutes a “valid” court order. Each court order must be drafted to meet the unique requirements and circumstances of your case. Orders must be narrowly tailored to address the needs of the parties and content at issue. They must specifically identify the location of the content at issue, the author/defendant, and claims that are the basis for removal. Court orders should also account for the possibility that content may be reposted or re-indexed in the future.
If a proper court order is not obtained, websites and search engines will deny your removal requests. Therefore, it is paramount to work with a lawyer and law firm that have experience successfully obtaining valid court orders of this type to have online content removed.
The decision to seek court ordered removal of online content is complex and should not be taken lightly. There are many factors to consider and weigh. Contact us today to find out whether you have a case.