'He Said'/'She Said' and Online Defamation Law

Katy Johnson won the Miss Vermont beauty pageant in 1999 and 2001 and operates a Web site that promote “character education”, abstinence, and sobriety. Tucker Max operates a Web site that promotes the opposite of character education, and he had an affair with Ms. Johnson. On his site apparently detailed their lack of abstinence and sobriety. She sued for defamation and a Florida judge ordered Mr. Max to remove all reference to Ms. Johnson on his site. That order has alarmed experts in First Amendment law, who say that such orders prohibiting future publication, prior restraints, are essentially unknown in American law. “Katy Johnson holds herself out publicly, for her own commercial gain, as a champion of abstinence and a woman of virtue,” Mr. Max’s lawyer says. “The public has a legitimate interest in knowing whether or not her own behavior is consistent with the virtuous image that she publicly seeks to promote.” The New York Times details the case.