Hire a personal injury attorney to find out if you have a proper defamation claim.
In no way am I offering you legal advice, and in no way has my comment created an attorney-client relationship. You are not to rely upon my note above in any way, but insted need to sit down with counsel and share all relevant facts before receiving fully-informed legal advice. If you want to be completely sure of your rights, you must sit down with an experienced criminal defense attorney to be fully aware of your rights.
Letters threatening libel lawsuits are rarely very effective on the internet, but it's worth a shot. As other have mentioned, you could bring a libel lawsuit in order to force them to bring the information down, but it may be expensive.
Depending on the information that appears, Google may be willing and able to remove the information for you without you filing a lawsuit. Go to https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/1228138?hl=en for an article with links about managing your online reputation.
Finally, if you can't get rid of the information, you may want to create blogs, facebook pages, etc. that appear when your name is searched. Knock the story off the first page of search results with information you want employers/others to see about you.
The information provided herein should not be considered legal advice, and is provided for informational and discussion purposes only. No attorney-client relationship is created through this communication. You should always seek the advice of an experienced attorney and not rely on what people on the Internet, whether they are attorneys or not, tell you for informational purposes. If you're interested in retaining my services, please contact me at 516-308-2480.
You have a case in libel, not against the host or website on which the defamation was posted (unless they knew it was untrue which is unlikely) but against the person who put the posting up.
The first thing you should do is contact the hosting website and tell them that the posting is untrue and defamatory and you want it taken down and request them to "preserve" all records in regard thereto as you may be litigating and this posting will be key evidence. Ask them also for information on the person who made the posting. They may only be able to give you a email or IP address but that is very helpful.
Whether the website host is helpful or not you need to find out the identity of the person who posted the material. Nothing on the internet is "anonymous" as a post is made from an IP address (each computer is assigned one to participate on the internet). Finding out the identity of a posting person is usually a layered process: a. request or subpoena info about the person from the website host and they often give email addresses and sometimes IP address b) if an email address is provided you subpoena the mail service provider eg. Yahoo for more information like IP address and c) with the information gathered (IP address) you then can subpoena the internet service provider like Verizon who knows a person by their IP address and has a name, phone number and address assigned to each IP address. A subpoena is not always enough for such info and some carriers require a court order to provide this information. The carriers always notify their customer that the information is being sought and the customer has an opportunity to bring a motion in court to "quash" the subpoena.
Either way, the courts must get involved for you to get to the bottom of this. You can petition the court for pre-filing discovery or simply file the summons and complaint against "John or Jane Doe" a person yet to be identified and then subpoena the companies as above-stated to find out who did this to you.
The comments above are for informational purposes only and not intended as legal advice to be relied upon in any way This is so particularly because different factors and details unknown to the attorney at this time could materially change these comments.
I often say as cocktail chatter that there is no gravity on the Internet, what goes up does not come down.
That having been said, I have worked for dozens of clients to get information removed or search engine de-listed. I would say the success rate for these kinds of actions among Internet attorneys is around 70% and that the cost is from $1,000 to $1,500. It all depends on the circumstances.
The problem you face is that getting this information removed is going to be expensive. Maybe even more than I quoted above. It will depend on how hard the web site wants to fight the subpoena you will need to get issued. If you have to file a law suit to get a subpoena you could be looking at many thousands of dollars. How much do you want to spend to cure this problem? Are you better off just letting it go -- people tend to take these revenge site postings as rants and raves and won't necessarily believe them.
You may want to discuss your situation with a lawyer in more detail. Most lawyers on Avvo offer a free phone consultation
This post is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice specific to you. This general information is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney in your jurisdiction. The attorney client relationship is not established by this post.
You can go through a very extensive song and dance involving multiple subpoenas and demands for information from the website host, the company that owns the site, the ISP, and more. Or you can hire a lawyer to do this for you and get it right.
I focus my practice on (video) gaming industry, casino gambling, and complex internet law issues, electronic free speech, entertainment law, copyright and trademark law, and computer fraud. I primarily represent game developers and founders of emergent internet technologies. The author is a Maryland attorney; however no answer given on Avvo is intended as legal advice or intended to create an attorney-client relationship.