An article published in The Wall Street Journal Online (posted 31 August 2005) reports that a company has sued the owner of a blog for comments posted on his site by readers about the company. This case, should it proceed to trial, will raise very interesting issues that are similar to those recently raised in Australia in Universal Music v Cooper , which considered the liability of a website operator for links to infringing mp3s installed on his website by third parties. Although this case does not concern copyright law, but instead defamation and the misappropriation of trade sercrets, it considers the liability of a website operator for the actions of third parties.

The company,, has sued Aaron Wall, who maintains a blog on search engine optimization (practices which companies use to get themselves to appear higher in the results given by search engines)., which creates search engine optimization tools, alleged defamation and publication of trade secrets in Nevada state court, by both Wall and several unidentified posters of comments on Wall’s website.

According to the text of the suit (which Wall has posted on his blog), claimed that its trade secrets had been published on Wall’s blog. claims $10,000 in damages plus legal and other costs.

There is also a discussion on Slashdot of this development. (I must point out that while Slashdot is an excellent source of tech news, the comments often communicate misunderstandings about the law…the discussion of the applicability of the First Amendment being one case in point.)