And you’re really a lawyer?
The verdict came back in the Los Angeles trial of Lori Drew, the Missouri mother who facilitated cyberbullying of a former friend of her daughter, who subsequently committed suicide. Since cyberbulling isn’t an easy crime to prosecute, the trial focused on whether, in setting up a fake MySpace page as a 16-year-old boy (whose online identity was used to befriend and then harass the girl who killed herself), Drew violated MySpace terms of service.
So, here’s the legal point- counterpoint, as reported by the Associated Press:
Among other things, Drew was charged with conspiring to violate the fine print in MySpace’s terms-of-service agreement, which prohibits the use of phony names and harassment of other MySpace members.
“The rules are fairly simple,” federal prosecutor Mark Krause said. “You don’t lie. You don’t pretend to be someone else. You don’t use the site to harass others. They harassed Megan Meier.”
Drew’s lawyer, Dean Steward, contended his client had little to do with the content of the messages and was not at home when the final one was sent. Steward also argued that nobody reads the fine print on service agreements.
“How can you violate something when you haven’t even read it?” Steward asked. “End of case.”
Am I wrong, or is Dean Steward claiming here that there’s nothing wrong with checking the box saying you’ve read and agree to the terms of service when you haven’t read them (and thus might not agree with them)?
Could I weasel out of all sorts of other inconvenient contracts by simply not reading them before I sign on the dotted line?
The legal minds in the audience are invited to weigh in with their assessment.