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Taking Appropriate Legal Action?
Well, it appears to me that would be "sit on it and rotate" -- in what seems to be legal bullying of the person who runs awfulplasticsurgery.com, apparently counting on them to not know what constitutes libel/slander and fair use.

Now, I'm not a lawyer, so I could be wrong. But, I know the defenses against libel (at the EFF link below), and I'm pretty sure this can't be counted as libel for a number of reasons; first and foremost, that it's clearly opinion. Check out this description of threatened "legal action" against the webmaster at awfulplasticsurgery.com (posted by the webmaster of awfulplasticsurgery.com):

April 27, 2007

Almost two years ago, I commented that Hunter Tylo's boobs had shelf-like qualities. I am now being threatened with a lawsuit due to that comment. Here is the legal letter I received today.


RE: Defamation on Awfulplasticsurgery.com website
Relating to Hunter Tylo

Dear Sir or Madam;

This firm represents Hunter Tylo in litigation matters.It has recently come to our attention that your Internet website at http://www.awfulplasticsurgery.com has posted at least one false and defamatory statement about Ms. Tylo. Specifically, an article entitled “Hunter Tylo and her shelf boobs.” That article is replete with false statements that would tend to harm Ms.Tylo's reputation in her profession. As such, you are directly liable for the libelous statement contained on you site.
A review reveals that the false statements about Ms. Tylo were made with a reckless disregard for the truth. These statements are false and amount to libel per se. Thus, Ms Tylo is entitled to recovery without proving any special damages sustained from the defamatory statements.
Moreover, given the article’s complete lack of truth, it is only reasonable to conclude that the false statements were made with a specific intent to injure Ms Tylo and her reputation.
Immediately remove the article from your Internet website and refrain from publishing any further false statements or information about Ms Tylo. We are preparing a subpoena that will force Domains by Proxy to disclose your identity and will execute such if we have not received by the close of business on April 30, 2007 your confirmation that the article has, in fact, been removed from the website. After such date we will take appropriate legal action to protect our client’s rights.

Sincerely,
Connie Gondek, RP
Grecon Associates

This is what I wrote about Hunter Tylo:

By popular demand, I present to you soap actress, Hunter Tylo. Requests for her to be featured topped those of even Bree Walker. I don't believe that anyone besides Stevie Wonder would describe Hunter Tylo's seemingly enhanced bosoms as 'proportional'. Indeed, they jut out like a shelf and look strangely out of place on her small petite frame.

This is a link to the article where the commentary appears. Click here.

Are there any lawyers out there that believe that I am within my freedom of speech rights? Please email me at webmaster ( a t ) awfulplasticsurgery.com. Media can also email me at the same address for further info.

On a personal front, I just had a breast reduction surgery last week and don't need this crap at the moment.

I encourage any sharp legal minds to comment on this, and I encourage other bloggers to blog about this.

Interestingly, I Googled Grecon Associates and got zippo.

If you go to the site behind the e-mail address (greconassoc.com) the webmaster got the Connie Gondek e-mail from (I corresponded with the webmaster a bit), it's actually Hunter Tylo's website.

From a soap opera Usenet, I found this:

Both Hunter (Taylor, B&B) & Michael (ex-Blade, Y&R; Quinton, GL) Tylo are regularly sent printouts of anything related to them on r.a.t.s.c., through the computer representative for the "Michael and Hunter Tylo Official Fan Club" (Connie Gondek).

And I found this, on online defamation law, at the EFF...which I sent to the webmaster to ease his or her mind. I'm no lawyer, but it isn't hard to read this and feel that the lawyer (if Gondek is a lawyer) is bullying in the absence of a real case.

Posted by aalkon at April 28, 2007 10:52 AM

Comments

http://www.faqs.org/faqs/tv/soaps/faq/part3/ is an interesting URL... it contains this text:

"the computer representative for the "Michael and Hunter Tylo Official Fan Club" (Connie Gondek)."

That would be what a Connie Gondek is.

Posted by: mr wggl at April 28, 2007 6:04 AM

Oh, how frackin' ridiculous. I'm going to head over to that site (which is great, BTW) and see if they need donations.

BTW (and please don't ask how I know this), I find the "Michael and Hunter Tylo" fan club to be hilarious in and of itself, given that Michael dumped Hunter many moons ago and, at last update, hadn't seen his family (he adopted her son from a previous marriage and they have *three* more kids together) in ages. And awfulplasticsurgery.com is the worst that Hunter Tylo has to worry about? The rich really are different from you and me.

(For trivia buffs: Hunter Tylo is the woman who successfully sued Aaron Spelling for pregnancy-related discrimination re: a role she had been promised on "Melrose Place." Personally, while I'm against pregnancy discrimination in the absence of heavy chemicals, I thought her suit was ridiculous, given that Spelling, upon finding out she was pregnant, offered her another, similar role that would have paid the same amount, etc. etc. But noooo, she was furious that the show didn't think she should be playing a free-living bikini-clad sexpot while she was pregnant. Shocking.)

Posted by: marion at April 28, 2007 6:32 AM

Courtesy of the Imus flap, you can expect a lot of this: people who think their opinion is law, and yours is crap to be banned.

And they have the gall to call themselves, "American".

Posted by: Radwaste at April 28, 2007 7:08 AM

Mr. W, the link you quote is already in the piece, but thank you...I guess I should highlight that bit. (I understand why people might skim stuff about soaps!)

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 28, 2007 7:22 AM

What do David Franklin Gondek and Seth Collins Gondek have in common? They are the only Gondeks listed online as active members of the California State Bar. Sorry, Connie. Maybe its not too late to the July Bar Exam.

Posted by: snakeman99 at April 28, 2007 7:40 AM

The "RP" after Gondek's name stands for "Registered Paralegal".

If a "firm" has an attorney they will have the attorney send such a communication, not a bloody paralegal. This is total bullshit...


Posted by: André-Tascha at April 28, 2007 8:08 AM

I figured it was something like that, but I posted this after I came home at midnight, and I didn't have the energy to go into it more than I did...figuring some of you would help take this apart. The blogger is really worried, and I sent her the EFF link and told her to hop over and see some of your comments.

I do hope other bloggers will link to this. There's too much of this -- people preying on the fact that many people don't know their rights under fair use or the meaning of libel.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 28, 2007 9:19 AM

"There's too much of this -- people preying on the fact that many people don't know their rights under fair use or the meaning of libel."

Amen to that.

Posted by: André-Tascha at April 28, 2007 9:31 AM

I love this blog.

No one could ever feel sorry for Aaron Spelling in a meaningful way, but his loss in court to Hunter Tylo almost made it happen. I was working for an entertainment network at the time and it really stuck in my craw... Not because of the magnitude of the error, but because I wasn't bright or legalistic enough to express why this was a miscarriage of justice. It's great to see that Marion agrees.

Also, I'd never heard of Hunter Tylo, and people I haven't heard of shouldn't have millions of fast dollars! It's just wrong! But she was a very cute little girl, and now she is very not cute. This fulfills an important component of Hollywood's entrancing, circuitous glamour narrative: Payback! Nothing satisfies a human heart like seeing a coddled, girly beauty hit the wall. And this one's still bouncing. Tabloids must be going apeshit over this woman.

(And I really like this guy's expression for how cosmetic surgery makes people look: "burn victim". And and, "Shelf" can be the perfect word to describe women's shapes, and we shouldn't let go of it.)

The verdict had the odor of unreality, a sensibility of baseless pretense similar to that for children raised badly in broken homes: 'Yes, Princess, Daddy still loves you, even though he moved to Florida to raise his new little girls and he hasn't seen you since second grade. He still loves you, though!' I really know nothing about Hunter and Michael Tylo, but it's somehow special that there are pointless enterprises named for them that are still running even though their union is dissolved.

[OT Digression begins] ----------

> Courtesy of the Imus flap

There's more meat on those bones?

> their opinion is law,
> and yours is crap to
> be banned.

How did the law play into anything? Imus wasn't banned, he was fired. He said something so obnoxious that it was likely to cost his employer money, so the airtime was given to somebody else. Imus can still ridicule distant teenage girls if he wants to.

> And they have the gall
> to call themselves,
> "American".

You're too pissed off about this. We can tell because you're fucking up your punctuation.

There's nothing unAmerican about speaking up when someone says something obnoxious. My chosen expression was "He should shut the fuck up." Next time, I'll be sure and say "He should go blow himself," a procedure which would silence him just as effectively. The first Amendment is not a factor. A broad and sensible percentage of Imus' market determined that his product was no longer of interest. Nobody said his product was forbidden.

I wish people who think that the "discussion" is being "banned" could come up with meaningful points to share, enabling a dyadic or more transactional exchange. As it is, all we've heard is mutterings about "nappy headed hos" and words that rhyme with "nigger." It makes us wonder what they expect to hear in response.

--------- [OT Digression ends]


> The "RP" after Gondek's
> name stands for
> "Registered Paralegal".

A-T, you're a treasure. You should tell those other bloggers, they may be relieved (though they don't seem to be sweating much.)

Blogs are fun fun fun!!

Posted by: Crid at April 28, 2007 9:38 AM

What Crid said, especially the OT Digression bit. There's a huge difference between a business decision (firing Imus for being a dick) and censorship.

As far as the legal issues here, didn't that Jesse Helms case pretty much settle the fact that you can make fun of public figures?

Posted by: justin case at April 28, 2007 11:30 AM

Just to add a couple cents. The RP (registered paralegal) designation for this chucklehead is subject to requirements of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (www.paralegals.org)...

It seems our friend Connie IS NOT entitled to this title (unless it stands for something like "Registered Prick"). Not only that, it seems that the Grecon Associates is not a real law firm - in all fairness she did not state that such was a law firm, just a "firm".

One other thing (noting that I am not an attorney): it appears to me that the mysterious Connie is treading a bit close to the line on the "unlawful practice of law" issue.

Posted by: André-Tascha at April 28, 2007 2:11 PM

I think maybe the website should be sued, not by Hunter Tylo but by any of the photographers whose work is being used without credit. Paparazzi may not be curing cancer, but they work for a living. As I understand fair use, that would be if the website were commenting on the artistic content of the photograph (and using only a fraction of it), not using the photograph as an illustration for commentary about a celebrity.

Posted by: Jon Tyken at April 28, 2007 8:46 PM

As for websites like this one being sued by the photographers, I'm actually surprised it doesn't happen. If those were photos I'd taken, I'd go after the person posting them without rights. I certainly defend my copyright and trademark when I find a vioation.

Blogger Perez Hilton actually has been sued for violation of copyright:

http://www.stockphototalk.com/phototalk/2006/12/celebrity_stock.html

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 28, 2007 9:09 PM

Perez is only one of the more popular. There are dozens of gossip sites at that level. Listen, I think the awfulplasticsurgery site is wonderful. I saw it once three years ago, and a second time earlier today. But that's the future of celebrity media.

I built a career in broadcasting. At the University, we described this as "point-to-multipoint". What this meant is that if you were not talented, but you managed to hang out near some talented people, you could get paid for being part of the process.

The internet is not so forgiving. Individual human beings are going to be rewarded for their insights. If you're a video editor, you're going to have to know how to show people things that other people can't see with the same video footage. If you're an advice giver, you better give interesting advice. If you're a person who makes fun of plastic surgery....

Actually, if you're a person who makes fun of plastic surgery, you've probably got room to breathe. It's a wide-open field.

A favorite medical media figure complains often about the success of Oprah's Dr. Phil, a sanctimonious blowhard who never belched an insight in his whole life. But people love him, because what they're listening to is the affect. And if you've ever read a fashion magazine, or read a rock 'n roll magazine or almost any celebrity interview, you know this is true: What the people are actually saying is horeshit. But the people who "read" those interviews are actually just looking at the pictures of Scarlett Johanson or Justin Timberlake and toking the vibe of their beauty (or whatever attraction they offer). It ain't about rational meaning.

But on the other hand, these small-scale celebrity blogs (The Future!) have no rhetorical precedent. And God Love 'Em, their authors are not articulate enough to do anything but tell the truth. And the truth is this: Hunter Tylo is all fucked up. Her face is for shit.

But if you read about her in Vanity Fair, would they have the clarity to say so? Nope! You'll only find the truth on awfulplasticsurgery.com.

The copyright issue, like every copyright issue presented by the internet over the last fifteen years, has yet to be dealt with. But here's how it works so far: People who used to buy beach homes with money from the physical media by which ideas are distributed ideas are going to be disappointed in the new arrangement. Every one in the media has to be on their best game, because the mechanics of delivery offer no shelter.

PS- I'm pretty sure the person who's threatening this particular blogger is scamming her. I'm going to make a phone call on Monday morning to find out for sure.

Posted by: Crid at April 28, 2007 10:29 PM

Sorry about the ideas-ideas, I had sake with sushi tonight. Snakeman, where did you find the list of California lawyers? Is there a New York list, too?

Posted by: Crid at April 28, 2007 10:49 PM

you can look up NY attorneys at

iapps.courts.state.ny.us/attorney/AttorneySearch

Posted by: André-Tascha at April 28, 2007 11:50 PM

Can't find nuthin'. Anyway, Google thinks the woman works for a street signage "firm" in Deer Park, NY.

Posted by: Crid at April 29, 2007 3:49 AM

OK, Crid, I'll amend part of this to make you happy: "People think their opinion should automatically be, or have the full force of law, while yours is crap to be banned".

And it is my rebellious side to disagree with Strunk and White - here on my shelf somewhere - and place the period at the end of a sentence outside the quotes on purpose. I do a lot of editing technical documents nowadays, and noticed that in a string of quoted items, the last one, favored with an included period, would reappear as an error in my in-box with the period in the term.

"Change WTS-V-267 to WTS-V-268." would reappear in the document as "WTS-V-268." Wrong.

Posted by: Radwaste at April 29, 2007 7:44 AM

There's another at the GSA (government services administration) in Texas. Her IP didn't come back. As for the period within the term, I work with an incredible editor at Creators Syndicate, who thinks it's just fine when I write, "Change this to change that." Or "Change this, this, this, and this."

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 29, 2007 7:59 AM

This Connie Gondek needs to receive a letter telling her that it is illegal in every state to practice law without a license. Then she needs to be told that in cases of libel and slander, public figures have less rights than private figures (the reasoning is that if you make your living by publicity, you also have to withstand negative publicity-- take the good with the bad). And third, she needs to be told that TRUTH IS ALWAYS A DEFENSE IN LIBEL AND SLANDER CASES. There is NO way a judge or jury would look at the photos posted of Hunter Tylo and conclude that the comments made on awfulplasticsurgery.com did not relate the truth. If you're going to put yourself in the public eye and you're going to get plastic surgery, especially such OBVIOUS plastic surgery, you're not going to be able to maintain a libel suit related to it when the printed comments accurately depict the truth. End of story.

Posted by: Florida Bar Member at April 29, 2007 8:10 AM

Thanks so much, Florida Bar Member. I sent your comment to the webmaster.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 29, 2007 8:36 AM

I think the GSA listing that turns is up is the vendor number by which she can be contacted by gov't agencies seeking to buy things (building signage) from the company she works for, which is in New York. I think.

I've never known a lawyer to do anything with email but confirm that billable hours begin when you walk through his door at three o'clock sharp. They like to use couriers to prove to clients and courts that they've made good-faith efforts at contact, and to increase the billing processed at their office. Ditto for real estate types: The bigger the stakes, the more resistant the sector is to newfangled communications tools.

You should listen to FBM and not to me... I only attend bars, and would never pretend to belong to one. But let's remember that Tylo is a woman who exploited the insanity of juries for a big payday years ago. This doesn't mean she'd win again, but she may have a little extra faith in her own righteousness.... Several million's worth. It's very hard to imagine that celebrity could squeeze any penalty from such a minor media outlet, whether or not the truth of Apc.com's postings is at issue... I'm not sure it would be. While years have drain the intoxicant of Ms. Tylo's beauty, juries are steadfastly insane. It's a problem. Just saying.

(But apc.com is right: Ms. Tylo's been clubbed with the ugly stick.)

Again, Florida Bar Member is an actual attorney, and I'm an actual video technician.

Posted by: Crid at April 29, 2007 9:52 AM

Also Amy, good luck with the thang. Don't take any shit from Arianna. (I guess that means, don't letter her talk. Excuse me, "taahhk.")

Posted by: Crid at April 29, 2007 9:54 AM

"As for the period within the term, I work with an incredible editor at Creators Syndicate, who thinks it's just fine when I write, 'Change this to change that.' Or 'Change this, this, this, and this.'"

And it is the proper convention; best observed in dialogue, designed to capture a full sentence. You simply work with narrative English and educated people, whereas I have difficulty conveying to the government employees with whom I correspond that not only do the alphabet and the number line occur in a particular order, a simple spelling error is fatal to the Federal- and state-mandated document they are mangling.

They should be saying, "You want fries with that?", but there you are. We can't always get what we want.

Posted by: Radwaste at April 29, 2007 4:54 PM

But we can try!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 29, 2007 7:12 PM

Trying is good, despite what Yoda may think.

Crid, to be fair to Tylo's jury, she had a rather dramatic trick up her sleeve. As the case was ending, during her testimony, she announced that she was pregnant AGAIN - in fact, in her third trimester. No one could tell...which lent credence to her assertion that the show could have used "creative" camera angles and other tricks to cover up the previous pregnancy. And then there was the fact that testimony from another witness indicated that Spelling Entertainment had told Tylo's reps that she could keep the original job...if she had an abortion.

(Please don't ask me why I remember all this. It does not speak well of me.)

Anyway, word to Florida Bar Member on the truth being a defense in slander and libel cases. A real lawyer would know that. Ergo...

Posted by: marion at April 29, 2007 9:08 PM

> to be fair to Tylo's jury,

No quarter! They bungled it.

> It does not speak well of me.

That's the problem with pop culture, we don't get the brainspace back when we find better purposes for it. The family has been having fun with this:

http://www.ironicsans.com/state22.html

Some can do it alphabetically in under 4 mins, but I've never done better than 3 mins remaining and randomly.

Posted by: Crid at April 29, 2007 9:44 PM

Hey! 6:04 remaining, just now! I'm bustin' my buttons over heah

Posted by: Crid at April 29, 2007 9:49 PM

Crid, did you have to post that link? I didn't really need to be reminded how long it's been since I had a geography class.

I can't believe I forgot Maryland.

Posted by: Kimberly at April 30, 2007 2:59 PM

Damn - I had five to go with three minutes left and I lost the page. I'm supposed to be writing!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 30, 2007 7:20 PM

States I had yet to get to: Louisiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Vermont, and I'm not sure which other one I was missing. Maybe Illinois? Page is gone, so I can't be sure.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 30, 2007 7:26 PM

Ok, I am not anglophonic (maybe a-phobic haha) so please excuse my poor command of the english language. The thing I would like to know is how the heck you run such a blog (good/awfulplasticsurgery) and you are NOT prepared for a lawsuit? Ok this CG seems not to be a lawyer but gee, how can you be surprised and cry like a baby when you get a negative email? In a culture of lawsuits as the american culture now unfortunately is, I am still amazed that the "american" internet still is a bit like the wild west. In germany (i am not german by the way) there was a guy, a private blogger who copyied a photo from an online cookbook and got sued to pay 700 Euros for it. I think that is equally crazy. I also run 3 websites and I only use phots I payed for, or I made myself or I asked for permission (yes that is also an option) and I actually live in no-law-third-world-country, so I should not be too worried about getting sued. But it's all about what kind of character you have. Your behavior on the internet is just an extention of what kind of person you are in the real life. Ok, sorry for drifting off the topic.

Posted by: Marcel at May 2, 2007 4:58 AM

I don't think the webmaster was surprised or crying like a baby about the threat lawsuit. It sounded like she was surprised that *Ms. Tylo* was upset enough about her comments to threaten her.

Posted by: Noretta at May 2, 2007 11:59 AM

I don't steal photos either, but that isn't the issue here. (I do take issue with people who use photos they haven't paid for or gotten rights to, but I have no idea whether this webmaster has an arrangement or not for her photo usage.)

When you're in the public eye like Ms. Tylo, you don't have the same privacy rights as an ordinary person.

Because somebody sues you or tries to sue you (or tries to pretend to sue you) doesn't necessarily mean they're right to do so vis a vis our laws protecting free speech and freedom of the press.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 2, 2007 12:05 PM

I'm an attorney in California. As informed the webmaster, the letter from the "attorney" makes for a good laugh…it is next to worthless. She didn’t even bother to specify what portions of the article were allegedly false.

In my never to be humble opinion, the article on Hunter Tylo was both very funny and simply expressing an opinion. I do not see anything in there that might subject anyboyd to personal liability for defamation. As my dad my say, he should tell them to go pound sand.

Posted by: Carl H. Starrett II at May 2, 2007 3:17 PM

Very cool of you, Carl, to write to her about this. The ironic thing is, if there's anything that's publicized what she wrote about Tylo...it's this ridiculous piece of bullying from Gondek. I saw that bit on Tylo when she posted it on the site, and really paid it no mind, since I don't watch soaps and had no idea who she was now. But, thanks to Gondek, from now on, when I hear the name Tylo, I'll think "shelf breasts!" and "big overstuffed lips." It's burned into my mind. (Unfortunate, too, since there's valuable stuff I really need the memory space for.)

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 2, 2007 3:32 PM

Posted by: Nbkvqvo at May 23, 2007 6:55 AM

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