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Courtney Love defends tweet in defamation trial

The 49-year-old rocker is the first person to defend a tweet in court.
Posted By Kate Stanton   |   Jan. 16, 2014 at 6:06 PM   |   Comments

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Jan. 16 (UPI) -- A case involving Courtney Love's Twitter feed could have major repercussions for how U.S. courts interpret traditional libel -- the act of publishing a false statement that harms someone's reputation -- in the context of Twitter.

Opening arguments for Gordon & Holmes v. Love, in which the 49-year-old singer must defend a 2010 Twitter claim that her former lawyer had been "bought off," began Wednesday in Los Angeles.

In the allegedly defamatory tweet, Love, Kurt Cobain's widowed wife, suggested that attorney Rhonda Holmes had been "bought off" when she refused to help her sue the firm managing her late husband's estate.

“I was f—— devestated [sic] when Rhonda J. Holmes esq. of san diego was bought off @FairNewsSpears perhaps you can get a quote," read Love's tweet.

Love told the court on Wednesday that her tweets are only opinions, but the plaintiff's representation claims the tweet damaged his client's reputation.

The plaintiff's attorney told CBS Los Angeles that Twitter users should take responsibility for their claims like news organizations do.

“Just because have you a printing press now literally in your pocket, and you have the same kind of circulation as a major newspaper has, doesn’t mean that because you are an individual you have some sort of free pass,” he said.

Though similar so-called "Twibel" cases have been filed before, this is the first to make it to trial. It could have a major impact in how courts perceive the issue of social media defamation.

[CBS LA, ABC News, Poynter]

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