Courtney Love has won her libel case involving Twitter. A jury ruled that the plaintiff failed to prove that the celebrity had knowingly made a libel statement using the social networking website. The act has been nicknamed “Twibel” by the media.
The issue started in 2010 when the musician tweeted information about Rhonda Holmes. Holmes was Love’s attorney at the time. Love stated that Holmes had backed out of the case involving the managers of Kurt Cobain’s estate and took a bribe for it. Love was in a war against the estate managers as she was married to Cobain at the time of his death in 1994. Holmes sued for the tweet, stating that it was libel.
According to Love, it was an expression of her opinion and she believed the tweet was being sent in private to the plaintiff. She admitted on the stand that she was terrible with computers and did not understand how Twitter worked. As soon as she realized her mistake, the tweet was deleted. She also took the chance to argue that the internet is a place for exaggeration and opinion.
Michael Langberg, Holmes’ lawyer, used that statement as an admission of guilt. He stated that it showed intent and that she should be found guilty by the jury. He likened posting on Twitter as posting anywhere that false statements pushed as fact can damage reputations.
The jury took almost four hours to decide on their verdict. Love won her Twitter libel case because the plaintiff failed to convince the jury she knew the tweet was not true. This was a majority vote of 9-3. They only proved she wrote it, which she admitted to. The Hole singer took to Twitter to express her gratitude to her law firm for helping her win the battle; however, she was not in court to hear the decision. Holmes lost out on $8 million in compensation.
The jury also ruled that the tweet had not damaged Holmes’ reputation. This was another majority vote of 11-1.
This is the first Twitter libel case to reach the United States courtrooms that Langberg had heard of, and will now set precedent for others to follow. The ground-breaking two-week case could have changed the social media website completely. Anything anybody says through the 140-character site could be used against a person in court. After the case, Love acknowledged that she was happy for the verdict because of the many others that a different verdict would have affected.
Langberg also explained that Holmes’ was happy with the decision because the jury never found her guilty of abandoning a client for money. Despite not winning the damages, the attorney also stated that the case was more to vindicate her reputation.
During the case, social media experts were called to the witness stand. They explained that there was no evidence the tweet Love sent had ever been retweeted. This alleged that very little damage had been done to Holmes’ career through the words. This helped Love win her Twitter libel case.
By Alexandria Ingham