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Please Be Careful What You Post! #968251
05/26/04 04:01 PM
05/26/04 04:01 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 6,309
Parsonsfield, ME (orig. Nahant...
Piano World Offline OP

6000 Post Club Member
Piano World  Offline OP

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Joined: May 2001
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Parsonsfield, ME (orig. Nahant...
I just received another lawyer letter (via email) asking to have posts removed about a
certain piano dealer and threatening legal action. No, I didn't hear from the dealer first, they chose to go straight to their lawyer (interesting).

By the way, I'm purposely not naming names here (the dealer, the lawyer, or the thread(s)), please don't start guessing or speculating.
I need to discuss things with our lawyer first.

The last time this happened (the infamous posts about a NY dealer) it cost me hundreds of dollars.
Now I have to have our lawyer respond to this one.
Even though I am technically not responsible ...

"The law is very clear in this area. As the host for a forum, Piano World is treated as a news vendor, bookstore or library and is not liable, since he neither knew nor had any reason to know of any purported defamation. He exerts no editorial control over the content of forum postings. Moreover, the Communications Decency Act has preempted a defamation claim. "

I have no desire to get in the middle of this.

I find it unfathomable that you can say what you want about the president of the United States, but you can be sued for what you say about a piano dealer. Be that as it may, I need to once again ask our members to be careful, before you find yourselves in court.

By the same token, if I was the dealer and someone was saying something untrue about my store, I wouldn't be too happy.

[I must admit though, threatening legal action against a site with 6200+ piano loving members and thousands upon thousands of visitors doesn't sound like the best business tacticts. Perhaps a more gentlemanly approach first would have been better?]

It would be interesting to get some of our members from the legal profession to weigh in on this subject. I can't see why members couldn't post negative comments about a dealer, tuner, mover, whatever, provided they were true and sustainable. And provided we allow equal time/space for rebuttals.

Or maybe we need a legal slush fund and some pro-bono lawyers? :-) [Just kidding]

PLEASE ALSO SEE: Forums 10 Commandments


- Frank B.
Founder / Owner / Host
PianoWorld.com
www.PianoSupplies.com
Find Us On:
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My Keyboards:
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-------------------------
It's Fun To Play the Piano ... PLEASE Pass It On!
Please invite every piano enthusiast you know to join our piano forums!


Re: Please Be Careful What You Post! #968252
05/26/04 05:06 PM
05/26/04 05:06 PM
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 2,299
C
Christopher James Quinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member
Christopher James Quinn  Offline
2000 Post Club Member
C

Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 2,299
Quote
Originally posted by Piano World:


Or maybe we need a legal slush fund and some pro-bono lawyers? :-) [Just kidding]
You shouldn't be kidding, if I were a lawyer I'd certainly do pro-bono work for this site.

I'd contribute to a legal defence fund for sure. Set up a link.

Re: Please Be Careful What You Post! #968253
05/26/04 05:47 PM
05/26/04 05:47 PM
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 6,467
Phoenix, AZ
Nina Offline
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Nina  Offline
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Posts: 6,467
Phoenix, AZ
Someone had a good idea (maybe in the offending thread)... when you have had a good experience with a dealership, we should ALL trumpet the news loudly and frequently. If the experience was less than satisfactory, we should just remain silent. Perhaps something like "I have also visited (dealer name)." End of comment.

Sometimes silence tells volumes, and I am assuming that there would be no legal issue over simply acknowledging that you have been to the dealership, or better yet, just saying nothing.

My 2c. Sorry you are having problems again, Frank.

Nina

Re: Please Be Careful What You Post! #968254
05/26/04 06:01 PM
05/26/04 06:01 PM
Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 6,971
Maine
kathyk Offline
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kathyk  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 6,971
Maine
I'd certainly help, Frank, but I it's not my practice area and I'm out of state so I wouldn't be much help.

That really stinks! Maybe you could put a little caveat in the piano forum telling members not to publicly post negative feedback about particular venders (you can bet none of 'em will send you threatening letters when the comments are positive. :rolleyes: ), but also post a line encouraging PF members to post requests on the piano thread for people to respond to them privately for questions regarding particular venders. That way, the flow of information won't be stopped - it just won't be public. Plus, in that format, we can all say what we would normally filter somewhat on the public forum; in other words, REALLY tell them what we think. That'll get 'em!!

Re: Please Be Careful What You Post! #968255
05/26/04 06:43 PM
05/26/04 06:43 PM
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 11,678
Okemos, MI
gryphon Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
gryphon  Offline
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Posts: 11,678
Okemos, MI
Why won't you post the name of the store? That would be worse than the bad word of mouth, yet would seem to fall inside the reasonable boundaries.

Or just make a sticky topic. The following dealers are good, the following dealers have threatened to sue us. [Linked Image]

I know, it's not funny. frown

Time for me to hit your PayPal link again.


"If we lose freedom here, there's no place to escape to."
MSU - the university of Michigan!
Wheels
Re: Please Be Careful What You Post! #968256
05/26/04 06:57 PM
05/26/04 06:57 PM
Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 2,340
Massachusetts
BeeLady Offline
2000 Post Club Member
BeeLady  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 2,340
Massachusetts
mad Why can't slimy dealers take responsibility for their own misdeeds instead of pinning the blame on everyone else....I guess some people just don't get it...
frown


BeeLady

Life is like a roll of toilet paper...the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes!
Re: Please Be Careful What You Post! #968257
05/26/04 07:08 PM
05/26/04 07:08 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,416
Washington D.C. Metro
Cindysphinx Offline
6000 Post Club Member
Cindysphinx  Offline
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Posts: 6,416
Washington D.C. Metro
KathyK, that seems like a good plan. I guess if someone were to show up and ask about this or that dealer with a poor reputation, one of us could post a reply asking that replies take place off-list.

I did think it weird when a newcomer turned up here recently and posted very brief messages about the reputations of certain piano dealers. A different thread for each dealer, which is unusual. No details about what they were looking for, either; just asking about dealers. Very suspicious.

Cindy

Re: Please Be Careful What You Post! #968258
05/26/04 07:16 PM
05/26/04 07:16 PM
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 705
Irvington, NY
irving Offline
500 Post Club Member
irving  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 705
Irvington, NY
Quote
Originally posted by kathyk:
...post a line encouraging PF members to post requests on the piano thread for people to respond to them privately for questions regarding particular venders. That way, the flow of information won't be stopped - it just won't be public. Plus, in that format, we can all say what we would normally filter somewhat on the public forum; in other words, REALLY tell them what we think. That'll get 'em!!
Kathyk,

When I first read your idea it seemed terrific. But then I thought about it a bit and realized the abuses that such a system might invite. Imagine that someone puts up a post asking for private feedback about ABC Pianos, an honorable dealership - one of the good guys. Among the (hopefully) many notes filled with accolades would perhaps be a few (or more) sent by shills fronting for jealous and unscrupulous competitors. Surely, these notes would be negative (or worse) and ABC would have no opportunity to respond. ABC has no recourse when it is unfairly slighted or disparaged by salespeople in its competitors' showrooms - and that's bad enough. I worry about giving the bad guys another possible route of attack.


Irving
Faust Harrison Pianos
We sell new Bechsteins, Yamahas, Mason & Hamlins, Brodmanns and W. Hoffmanns, and rebuilt vintage Steinways. All rebuilding is done in our own factory. www.faustharrisonpianos.com
Re: Please Be Careful What You Post! #968259
05/26/04 07:42 PM
05/26/04 07:42 PM
Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 491
UK
yonnermark Offline
Full Member
yonnermark  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 491
UK
I agree, we should all hang our washing out in full view of everyone

Re: Please Be Careful What You Post! #968260
05/26/04 08:07 PM
05/26/04 08:07 PM
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 770
California
Dan M Offline
500 Post Club Member
Dan M  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 770
California
That stinks, I would bet that whatever was said, about whoever, was right on the mark. People who are guilty of such behavior typically extend it to doing things like contacting their lawyer, and not even discussing it first.

It must be frustrating for you, here you are providing a service, and people do stuff like this.


The piano is my drug of choice.
Why are you reading this? Go play the piano! Why am I writing this? ARGGG!
Re: Please Be Careful What You Post! #968261
05/26/04 08:10 PM
05/26/04 08:10 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 6,309
Parsonsfield, ME (orig. Nahant...
Piano World Offline OP

6000 Post Club Member
Piano World  Offline OP

6000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 6,309
Parsonsfield, ME (orig. Nahant...
Tell me, how does a web site like
www.f***edcompany.com get away with posting
the things they do?

While I prefer the forums be as unbiased as
possible, and not a place for personal vendettas, we shouldn't be prevented from posting the truth.

Anyone can have a bad day, but the truly good companies/stores/dealers will own up to their mistakes and make them right.
I find it is usually the questionable ones who get on the defensive (and call out the watch dogs).


- Frank B.
Founder / Owner / Host
PianoWorld.com
www.PianoSupplies.com
Find Us On:
Facebook.com/PianoWorldDotCom
ProRecord.info
www.youtube.com/PianoWorldDotCom
www.linkedin.com/in/pianoworld
Skype: PianoWorldDotCom
My Keyboards:
Estonia L-190 w/ ProRecord, Yamaha P-80, Estey 1895 Pump Organ, Harpsichord (kit), Clavichord (kit), Bilhorn Telescope Organ c 1880
-------------------------
It's Fun To Play the Piano ... PLEASE Pass It On!
Please invite every piano enthusiast you know to join our piano forums!


Re: Please Be Careful What You Post! #968262
05/26/04 08:35 PM
05/26/04 08:35 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 6,964
The Evergreen State (WA)
jodi Offline
6000 Post Club Member
jodi  Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 6,964
The Evergreen State (WA)
So, what happens if you just don't respond to these lawyer threats? Does it still cost you money? I can't believe it's happening to you again, Frank. All you have to do is google, and you can find complaints on online message boards about all sorts of businesses. Why are do all the sue-happy weenies sell pianos?

smile Jodi

Re: Please Be Careful What You Post! #968263
05/26/04 11:13 PM
05/26/04 11:13 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,010
NM, GE & Wash. DC
JPM Offline
1000 Post Club Member
JPM  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,010
NM, GE & Wash. DC
Could PW start a dealership list?

Good ones get a thumb
Ones with no track record get an "Unknown"
Bad ones get a mad
Or can you be sued for Graemlins too? confused

It could be developed using a rating system based on member input (voting) with explanatory comments but precautions would be necessary to prevent problems like Irving mentioned.

Maybe it's best to keep doing it the way we are though. Pat good dealers on the back publically. If we don't know the dealer, say we don't. If someone asks about a bad dealer, say nothing .... although what I'd really like to say is "I'd like tell you my frank and candid opinion but the last time I did this dealer threatened to to sue PW."

It amazes me that some folks will spend their money to persist in doing things the wrong way while others know what right is and just do it.

Frank, please let us know how we can contribute to the PW Legal Defense Fund.

JP


"Piano music should only be written for the Bechstein."
-- Claude Debussy
Re: Please Be Careful What You Post! #968264
05/27/04 04:57 AM
05/27/04 04:57 AM
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 2,299
C
Christopher James Quinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member
Christopher James Quinn  Offline
2000 Post Club Member
C

Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 2,299
Quote
Originally posted by kathyk:

That really stinks! Maybe you could put a little caveat in the piano forum telling members not to publicly post negative feedback about particular venders
While this forum has been incredibly useful for so many people it has become a victim of its own success, and if contributors have to hold their punches with respect to negative comments about specific dealers then consumers become a victim of this forum's success as well.

Anyone used to usenet is probably completely unaware of the 'prohibition' against negative comments about specific businesses (I certainly was until this thread started).

The success of this forum has drawn most contributors away from usenet, so that RMMP is not even worth monitoring IMO. So we are left with a playground full of people with opinions, yet all we hear are the 'positive' ones. Not good.

Re: Please Be Careful What You Post! #968265
05/27/04 06:41 AM
05/27/04 06:41 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 6,309
Parsonsfield, ME (orig. Nahant...
Piano World Offline OP

6000 Post Club Member
Piano World  Offline OP

6000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 6,309
Parsonsfield, ME (orig. Nahant...
Quote
Originally posted by Christopher James Quinn:
While this forum has been incredibly useful for so many people it has become a victim of its own success, and if contributors have to hold their punches with respect to negative comments about specific dealers then consumers become a victim of this forum's success as well.

Anyone used to usenet is probably completely unaware of the 'prohibition' against negative comments about specific businesses (I certainly was until this thread started).

The success of this forum has drawn most contributors away from usenet, so that RMMP is not even worth monitoring IMO. So we are left with a playground full of people with opinions, yet all we hear are the 'positive' ones. Not good.
I agree with Christopher and some of the others.
If all we post is positive information we do a disservice to the thousands of people who come here every day looking for help and advice.

We need to find a way to convey negative information without worrying about legal threats every time.
Maybe some of our friends/members in the legal professions could offer some advice?

Here's what I'm thinking (but I'm certainly open for other ideas). We ...

Post Polls either one poll per dealer, or multiple dealers in one poll. I can set it so voters can only vote once. We indicate that a poll has to have had at least 10 votes to be considered a reasonable representation.

Star Ratings Use the 5 star rating system

Personal Experience
Negative posts should be based on personal experience and include facts, not based on hearsay.

Other suggestions?
Legal opinions?


- Frank B.
Founder / Owner / Host
PianoWorld.com
www.PianoSupplies.com
Find Us On:
Facebook.com/PianoWorldDotCom
ProRecord.info
www.youtube.com/PianoWorldDotCom
www.linkedin.com/in/pianoworld
Skype: PianoWorldDotCom
My Keyboards:
Estonia L-190 w/ ProRecord, Yamaha P-80, Estey 1895 Pump Organ, Harpsichord (kit), Clavichord (kit), Bilhorn Telescope Organ c 1880
-------------------------
It's Fun To Play the Piano ... PLEASE Pass It On!
Please invite every piano enthusiast you know to join our piano forums!


Re: Please Be Careful What You Post! #968266
05/27/04 07:07 AM
05/27/04 07:07 AM
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 894
Virginia
F
fmelliott Offline
500 Post Club Member
fmelliott  Offline
500 Post Club Member
F

Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 894
Virginia
I cannot remember anything particularly unpleasant being posted about anybody on the Forum lately. It is obvious that the complainer was waiting to pounce and spoiling for a fight.

Many apologies from all of us Frank. Don't let this get you down.

Re: Please Be Careful What You Post! #968267
05/27/04 07:09 AM
05/27/04 07:09 AM
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 2,299
C
Christopher James Quinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member
Christopher James Quinn  Offline
2000 Post Club Member
C

Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 2,299
Quote
Originally posted by Piano World:


Other suggestions?
Legal opinions?
You've probably explored this angle, but I would expect that there are non-profit groups seeking to protect free speech as it relates to a defacto public forum, even if it is hosted in a private space?

Alternatively, and I'm guessing here, perhaps the legal problems would not apply to a PRIVATE forum? So everyone who joins PW has to pay a fee to join the private discussions? I don;t like the idea much myself because I think all this info should be in the public domain, but perhaps having a membership fee somehow indemnifies you from this legal problem?

Re: Please Be Careful What You Post! #968268
05/27/04 07:35 AM
05/27/04 07:35 AM
Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 182
O
obrother Offline
Full Member
obrother  Offline
Full Member
O

Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 182
I don't know if any forum lawyers have, indeed, contacted you offering guidance, whether it be in private or otherwise. If and when that happens, perhaps they will need a copy of the exact letter that you received so they can assess the validity of the retailer's position. I know this is sort of common sense and probably something you've already taken care of, and I also know that it is not a substitute for having your own lawyer review the letter and facts.

I'm not a lawyer and am probably in over my head, but I do find suspect, the retailer's ability to squelch negative speech on a forum, as such. Were it conspiratorial, untrue, and intended to damage the retailer's name and business as opposed to relate facts....maybe it would seem less of a first amendment issue.

That said, many of us know of other forums (Taylor guitar, Motif Forum...that routinely rip apart Guitar Center)that utilize negative critics. An interesting example is 'The Complaint Station'. And one example there is Rowe Furniture who gets slammed repeatedly, and hard, but they usually post a follow-up telling the complainant(?)what action to do.

I'm not sure what would prompt either Guitar Center or Rowe Furniture, organizations with good financial resourses, to take a pass on contesting the negative forums...while this retailer in question professes to have a legal issue.

One suggestion would be for you to contact the forums mentioned above (owners/administrator/whatever) and ask their take on the situation. While I can't give real legal advice, I can only say that it would be a shame if you heeded this retailer's directive, when it was based on well written legal bluster. The fact that they went straight to a lawyer, this time, could be to present the best 'impact' for their directive - which they may know to be flawed.

If all this fails, my suggestion would be that the precise name and location of said retailer not be mentioned but that the general area of business, etc. and other pertinents be allowed - so as to make more vague any claim they think they have, but to still convey facts/opinions amongst forum readers who can fill in the missing info on their own.

Re: Please Be Careful What You Post! #968269
05/27/04 07:48 AM
05/27/04 07:48 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 1,487
Rehoboth Beach De. USA
Rich D. Offline
Gold Subscriber
Rich D.  Offline
Gold Subscriber

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 1,487
Rehoboth Beach De. USA
Frank,
I like your idea about the polls. 5 stars being best, one star meaning look elsewhere. As you indicated votes are based on personal experience only and no dealers can vote. Also let me know how to contribute to the PW legal defense fund.

Understand why you can't mention the dealer. If it were known however, over in the usenet, I'm sure folks in the RMMP would have a few choice words to say.

Rich


Retired at the beach

Anton Rubinstein said about the piano: "You think it is one instrument? It is a hundred instruments!"
Re: Please Be Careful What You Post! #968270
05/27/04 07:54 AM
05/27/04 07:54 AM
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 770
California
Dan M Offline
500 Post Club Member
Dan M  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 770
California
I like the polls idea.

What's not legal about that? Consumer reports and hundreds of other sources rate products and services.


The piano is my drug of choice.
Why are you reading this? Go play the piano! Why am I writing this? ARGGG!
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