Courtney Love Testifies Against Former Attorney Over Tweet

Image: Courtney Love Testifies Against Former Attorney Over Tweet

Thursday, 23 Jan 2014 12:49 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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Courtney Love, wife of the late musician Kurt Cobain, took the stand Wednesday in a precedent-setting trial against her former attorney, who is suing over a tweet Love wrote that the lawyer claims harmed her reputation.

Love said she was merely expressing her opinion in a 2010 tweet when she wrote that her then-attorney Rhonda Holmes had been "bought off" because she refused to help Love in a legal battle with managers of Cobain's estate, according to ABC News.

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Love choked up when asked about her role as mother to the couple's daughter Frances Bean Cobain, according to Rolling Stone. 

"It's the most important thing," Love said, crying.

Love added that the message was directed at just two people.

Holmes’ attorney, Mitchell Langberg, argued that Love's tweet was more than an opinion; it was intended to harm Holmes' reputation. 

"'Bought off' means somebody got to (Holmes), somebody paid her a bribe," Langberg said, per KABC-TV. 

The case could have profound implications for social media. It could determine if a person can be defamed on a site like Twitter, imposing new rules for what users are legally accountable for.

"Most of the relevant legal opinions on libel date from a time when publishing meant printing or posting something in a newspaper or magazine — institutions that, in part because of the fear of lawsuits, make some effort to keep outright falsehoods out of their pages," Drake Bennett wrote for Bloomberg Businessweek.

"Twitter, on the other hand, allows any user to publish whatever he can fit into 140 characters. And unlike newspapers, which can be sued even for things they publish in letters to the editor, Twitter cannot be held legally liable for what people tweet, because of a provision in a 1996 law called the Communications Decency Act specifying that providers of interactive Internet services are not to be treated as publishers of user-created content," Bennett added.

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