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Defamation on Freelancer.com - Where Do I Stand?

Discussion in 'Defamation Law Forum' started by rmissin, 12 August 2014.

  1. rmissin

    rmissin Member

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    Hi I'll stick to the valid points, maybe a little tricky.

    I'm a freelancer and member of a well known Australian based freelancing/outsourcing website.

    After winning a contest, the contest holder chose to leave what I believe to be defamatory comments in his review, this is the comment.

    "No doubt he will get even with me for this review [​IMG] The truth must prevail. xxxxxx is a very unreliable and dishonest person - Avoid.

    In the Code of Conduct within the T&C of the site it states this:

    Communication

    I will:

    avoid exaggeration, derogatory remarks, and inappropriate references
    not engage in personal attacks, negative or other unfair criticism or other unprofessional conduct

    I don't mind being criticized for my standard of work, or receiving critical feedback about my work, but this comment is vindictive unprofessional and unnecessary.

    I've been in contact with the "support" section of the website who insist I settle this situation "amicably" with the contest holder, and so far have refused to take down the review.

    I have no amicable relationship with this person, nor do wish to.

    I'm unsure where I stand, or what I need to do to make them remove this comment, defamatory take down notice ?, who sends this, me or a legal rep ? etc etc.

    I can provide more info if needed.

    Appreciate any and all advice .

    tia
     
  2. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

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    Hi rmissin,

    Defamation occurs when 'defamatory material' relating to an individual is published.

    Defamatory material is material that could:
    • injure the reputation of the individual by exposing them to hatred, contempt or ridicule;
    • cause people to shun or avoid the individual; or
    • lower the individual’s estimation by right thinking members of society.
    To succeed in establishing defamation, three elements must be satisfied:
    1. the information was communicated by the defendant to a third person other than you (publication);
    2. the material identifies you; and
    3. the information/material contains matter that is defamatory, regardless of whether the material was intentionally published or not.
    However there are also a number of defences that the defendant could raise to avoid liability for defamation including: justification, contextual truth etc.

    Here is a link to a fact sheet by Qpilch that may be helpful to read up on: http://www.qpilch.org.au/resources/factsheets/Defamation.htm

    In your case, the material published was obviously defamatory, it was published - and communicated to third parties other than yourself, it identifies you in the context of your peers from whom you hope to get work. However, whether or not the person who published the information will be able to raise a defence to the action is another story and will depend on a broader knowledge of the facts.

    The website could also be implicated in the defamation for publication of the remarks.

    You could definitely try to threaten both the website and your defamer with an action in defamation if they refuse to remove the marks and or remedy any damage that they have already done to reinstate your reputation.
     
  3. John R

    John R Well-Known Member

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    Is this with Freelancer, Airtasker or another site?
     
  4. rmissin

    rmissin Member

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    Thanks Sophea, I've tried to get the websites support to see sense, but my requests are being ignored, I know I have a case to serve them a take-down notice as they are in breach of their own terms and conditions, but the support are still insisting I resolve this with the contest holder, basically passing the buck imho.
    I don't want to sue, I don't want this to drag on unnecessarily, I just want them to remove the review.

    I don't have the time or money to finance such a procedure, looks like I will just have to delete my account and move on.

    This all came about because I stood up to the contest holder and told him he didn't own the copyright for my submissions unless I was awarded the win and signed them over to him in the contest handover, as stated in the terms and conditions.

    He didn't like this, tried to get other freelancers to copy my work (who refused) then awarded me the win, and left that review, pure vindictiveness by someone who knew how the system worked, and to do as much damage to my rep and ratings as possible.

    I'm not interested in suing I just want the comments removed.
     
  5. rmissin

    rmissin Member

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    Hi John , it's Freelancer.com
     
  6. John R

    John R Well-Known Member

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    Hi @rmissin
    If you've been frustrated by the lack of customer service with Freelancer.com and believe that a review on the Freelancer.com website is in breach of Freelancer.com's Code of Conduct, you may consider escalating your complaint to Freelancer.com management:
    From a practical perspective, I'd suggest keeping it simple to respect time-poor management. This may include:
    • using a clear subject line - e.g. "Response Required - Contractor Review and Breach of Code of Conduct";
    • setting out information that can be used to easily identify your Freelancer.com account (e.g. registered username, email, etc.);
    • setting out your complaint in bullet points with direct references to the specific section/clause of the Code of Conduct;
    • setting out your ideal resolution;
    • setting a reasonable timeframe (e.g. 7 days) for a response; and
    • checking your grammar and spelling before sending the email.
    Have you also attempted to directly contact the contest holder in relation to this issue?

    If both attempts are unsuccessful, you may consider sending a Concerns Notice (a specific notice under the Defamation Act that applies in your state/territory) to the contest holder and Freelancer.com in relation to the alleged defamatory statement.

    Hope this helps. Please keep us updated with your progress.
     
  7. rmissin

    rmissin Member

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    Thanks John R, seems escalating the issue is my only chance of a resolution.

    The contest holder is a ranting idiot and impossible to reason with.

    Many thanks for your research and investigation ;), I'm laying out the entire event with screenshots to show exactly what happened, as it seems very easy do disappear into the "grey area" of a conflict or dispute.

    I'll let you know how I get on.
     

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