Law & The Internet: the "Streisand Effect" In Action

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Abstract: In the case Jones Day v. BlockShopper.com, an attorney with the Chicago firm Jones Day objected to a real estate website linking to a real estate transaction listed on the legal firm's public website. The firm obtained a TRO against BlockShopper.com, the practical effect of which is that the link in question should be attached to a text facimile of the web page URL, rather than the name of the Jones Day partner that purchased real estate. The following was originally posted by an "Anonymous Coward" on slashdot.org, and copied here to encourage search engines to give it more play.

According to this blog [typepad.com] and many other sources, the lawyers in question were Dan Malone and Jacob Tiedt, who do indeed work at Jones Day according to their own [jonesday.com] web site [jonesday.com]. It's not clear to me what, exactly the issue is there. The names involved in sales of a property are ordinarily recorded as public information (unless it's done through an agent or something). The information about these gentlemen's employment is right on their employer's web site. Is Jones Day claiming that putting this information together is illegal?

The blog cites another article in a law journal about supposed concerns about privacy. Fair enough. But if that's the case then these guys have probably gone out of their way to keep all personal information private.

Wait, what's this? Jacob Tiedt is a pretty distinctive name. There can't be too many of those in Chicago. And, wow, that's strange. Why the heck does the guy's name appear all over the place in a Google search [google.ca] that simply uses "Jacob Tiedt" and "Chicago"? Heck, one of the web pages registers his political donations which ALSO indicates that his employer/occupation is "Jones Day/Attorney" and gives his ZIP code. Lexis Nexis gives all sorts of details too [lawyers.com], and (gasp) links directly to the jonesday.com web site. Horrors. And, strange, apparently he doesn't have an unlisted number, because his name is easy to find in the various on-line white pages. It's almost as if he hasn't made the slightest effort to remain incognito.

It looks like Jones Day is going to spend a lot of time in litigation if they want to expunge the web of any links to Jones Day and these guy's personal information, and half of the web pages are as a result of their initial attempts with Blockshopper. Hello? Streisand effect?

The apparent remedy in the settlement was to prohibit links like this: Daniel P. Malone Jr. [jonesday.com], while links like this: www.jonesday.com/dpmalone [jonesday.com] are acceptable. Huh? I don't get it.