Legal

Introduction

Before initiating litigation against RipoffScams.com  (“Ripoff Scams”) or seeking the identity of an individual who has posted a report or review on Ripoff Scams, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with the content appearing below. We have compiled the information to aid you, or your agents, for the purpose of explaining some of the more common issues we are contacted about. Our hope is that together this page, and the information appearing in our FAQ page, will answer the majority of inquiries we receive concerning certain legal issues involving our website.

Ways to remove a Report or Review from our site

What works

  • Subpoena
  • Court Order

What does not work

  • Legal Threats
  • Cases Against Ripoff Scams

A valid Court Order– A report may be removed from our website by order of a court. It would be advisable for you to speak to a legal professional about the situation. There are attorneys experienced in internet defamation who can help you. 

Why does RipoffScams.com ignore my communications?

RipoffScams.com receives far too many requests to respond to everything we receive. In fact, much of what we receive goes unanswered. This often includes communications from lawyers. Despite the fact that many lawyers (or perhaps you as their client) often think we must respond to a lawyer’s letter, our own lawyers tell us we often have no obligation to do so. 

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, 47 U.S.C.§ 230 (The “CDA”)

Section 230 of the CDA is landmark legislation involving the regulation of content on the Internet. The statute immunizes providers of interactive computer services against liability arising from content created by third parties; it provides that “[n]o provider . . . of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” 47 U.S.C. § 230(c). It further provides that “[n]o cause of action may be brought and no liability may be imposed under any State or local law that is inconsistent with this section.” Id.§ 230(e)(3).

Section 230 of the CDA was enacted, in part, to “preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet.” 47 U.S.C. § 230(b)(2). Congress enacted Section 230, in part, as a response to a New York state court decision, Stratton Oakmont, Inc. v. Prodigy Servs. Co., (N.Y. Sup. Ct. May 24, 1995), where an interactive computer service was held liable for defamatory comments made by one of its two million users.

To further these goals, Congress declined to extend traditional defamation law, as applied to classical information providers such as newspapers, magazines, television, and radio stations to the Internet. Section 230(c)(1) shields a “provider” or “user” of an “interactive computer service” from liability when either of them publish material provided by a third-party “information content provider.” 47 U.S.C. § 230(c)(1). Section 230(e)(3) provides teeth to § 230(c)(1) by barring all state based claims “inconsistent” with the statute.

In one of the earliest cases involving the CDA, the Court of Appeals for Fourth Circuit interpreted § 230(e)(3) to bar all state claims sounding in tort. Zeran v. Am. Online, Inc., 129 F.3d 327, 331 (4th Cir. 1997). The court observed that Congress did not want to “deter harmful online speech through the separate route of imposing tort liability on companies that serve as intermediaries for other parties’ potentially injurious messages.” Id. at 330-331. The reasoning of Zeran is now widely accepted by courts across the Unites States and, likewise, RipoffScams.com has been routinely recognized as falling within the Section 230’s protection.

Anti-SLAPP Statutes

SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. When filing such a lawsuit, a plaintiff usually intends to silence criticism through imposing of legal defense costs on a critic. Anti-SLAPP laws (anti-SLAPP statutes) target methods used by SLAPP plaintiffs, thus providing remedies from SLAPP lawsuits. Under most anti-SLAPP statutes, the person sued moves to strike the case as it involves speech on a matter of public concern. Then the burden of proof is shifted to the plaintiff whereas the latter has to show evidence supporting the SLAPP claims. Anti-SLAPP statutes vary from state to state as to what speech they cover and to what extent. The language of these statutes varies as well as to the amount of evidence the plaintiffs have to provide when they have the burden of proof.

One-Sided Claims of Confidentiality

We often receive requests — they sound more like demands, really — in which we’re asked to keep the content of certain communications “confidential.” While we have no idea what the basis is for attempting to impose these limitations on disclosure, where, as here, there exists no agreement between RipoffScams.com and you to treat any information, let alone your unsolicited communications, as confidential, we nevertheless do not honor such requests. In fact, because we are inclined to believe that such “gag orders” are detrimental to the free sharing of information and ideas that underscores our entire business model, we are more likely to upload these communications to our website.

Why do you allow anonymous reports and use of pseudonyms?

Fundamentally, Ripoff Scams stance on anonymity is grounded in the U.S. Constitution. First Amendment protection for anonymous speech was first articulated more than a half-century ago. Although the Internet is the latest platform for anonymous speech, online speech stands on the same footing as other speech. As with other forms of expression, the ability to speak anonymously on the Internet promotes the robust exchange of ideas and allows individuals to express themselves freely without fear of economic or official retaliation… or concern about social ostracism. 

Claims of Copyright Infringement

We often receive notices of copyright infringement related to content appearing on RipoffScams.com. Absent a takedown notice served pursuant to The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) — which is beyond the scope of this explanation — we often find such claims lacking in merit.

​To begin with, even if the content at issue were amenable to a valid copyright claim under the U.S. law — and many of the “takedown demands” we receive do not — RipoffScams.com is of opinion that content appearing on its website lies within the limitations and exceptions to the U.S. copyright law known as “fair use.” The fair use exception to copyright law in the United States permits the lawful use of copyrighted material where the purpose of republishing the material includes, but is not limited to, criticism or news-related reporting.

Of course, with the name “Ripoff Scams,” negative statements lie at the heart of the content appearing on our website. And, because we take the view that criticism — whatever its subject matter — is always “news worthy,” we believe we fall within the exceptions of the fair use doctrine.

Claims of Trademark Infringement

Like claims of copyright infringement, we also regularly receive notices of trademark infringement. More specifically, we receive demand letters wherein we’re informed of an alleged trademark infringement by virtue of a parties’ trademark or trade name appearing on our website. These notices of alleged trademark infringement often include various forms of use of a trademark, including but not limited to, subdomains, metadata or the appearance logos. Despite the fervor that often accompanies these letters, claims of trademark infringement against us, so say our lawyers, are typically meritless, and so we often ignore these communications as well.

In assessing the viability of a bona fide claim for trademark infringement, the likelihood of consumer confusion is central to the inquiry. As one court has put it ““[t]he crucial issue . . . is whether there is any likelihood that an appreciable number of ordinarily prudent purchasers are likely to be misled, or indeed simply confused, as to the source of the goods in question.” Starbucks Corp. v. Wolfe’s Borough Coffee, Inc., 588 F.3d 97, 114 (2d Cir. 2009).

But of course RipoffScams.com is a “gripe site” wherein users voice their complaints, or support as may be the case, and sometimes anonymously. Courts throughout the United States have also routinely held that a gripe site dedicated to complaints about a particular trademark holder does not create likelihood of confusion because no reasonable visitor to a gripe site would assume it to come from the same source or think it to be affiliated with, connected with, or sponsored by the mark holder.

Consequently, no likelihood of confusion can be said to exist because RipoffScams.com use of trademarks in the context of criticism is not likely to cause a mistake as to origin, sponsorship, or affiliation and, in any event, the First Amendment protects such use. Thankfully, more than just a few courts have agreed with us on these points.

Subpoena Policy

While the above explanations offer insight into some of the circumstances surrounding why we may ignore certain demands made of us, we also recognize from time to time that the law imposes certain legal obligations upon us. Most frequently, these obligations arise in the form of a U.S. court’s subpoena power. It’s worth mentioning that RipoffScams.com treats all validly served subpoenas arising from a court located within the United States seriously. However, it is also important for you to know that RipoffScams.com insists in strict compliance with its subpoena policy which may be downloaded and viewed below.

RipoffScams Subpoena Policy (PDF)

A brief word about the enforcement of foreign judgments and subpoenas

​Our lawyers tell us that, as a general rule, a party may enforce a foreign judgment in a domestic U.S. court if either (a) the law of the foreign forum, as applied in the foreign proceeding, provides protection that is coextensive with the relevant domestic U.S. law, or (b) the facts, as proven in the foreign proceeding, are sufficient to establish a claim under the U.S. law.

However, because RipoffScams.com takes the view — as supported by the U.S. law — that jurisdiction over it may be maintained only in a handful of venues located within the United States — and only the United States — we do not acknowledge the existence of judgments obtained in courts located outside of the United States. Accordingly, RipoffScams.com does not engage in evaluating the presence of either (a) or (b) above and so we do not take any action pursuant to foreign judgments.

Likewise, subpoenas issued by courts located outside the United States are also given little attention. While the U.S. federal law pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1782 provides for the enforcement of subpoenas issued by foreign courts by way of a mechanism known as “letters rogatory,” the issuance and enforcement of such “letters” we understand is administered exclusively by the United States federal courts pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and U.S. due process considerations. Therefore, to extent RipoffScams.com could ever be compelled to respond to such a request for information issued by a foreign court, such an obligation would necessarily involve the United States federal court system.

Recommended Approach to Your Legal Claims

Many companies use the following way to approach their legal claims:

  1. File John Doe case 
  2. Issue Subpoena- Use the email form at the bottom of this page
  3. Obtain a Court Order
  4. Mail said Court Order to us- again use the email form at the bottom of this page
  5. We will then review documents, verify with our Attorney and remove Report

Email Form for Legal Documents

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