MIA Heat Owner Suing Blogger & Google Over "Unflattering" Photo-Updted

Carlos Miller

Miami Heat Owner Suing Blogger and Google Over "Unflattering" Photo (Updated)

Miami Heat minority owner Raanan Katz does not appreciate the above photo of himself circulating on the internet, so he is suing Google and a Miami blogger for refusing to take it down.

And he apparently has enough money to sue anybody else who posts the photo.

According to CNN Money via Gigaom.com:

In a complaint filed in Miami federal court this month, Ranaan Katz is demanding an injunction and damages over a photo that shows him court side with his tongue hanging out. The photo is posted on a blog devoted to reporting alleged rip-offs involving Katz’s commercial real estate operations in Miami. The lawsuit shows the photo “partially distorted due to its unflattering nature” :

But it doesn’t appear as if the billionaire has enough buying power to quash the First Amendment.

After all, the real estate tycoon claims he is not even a public figure, which would allow him to file a defamation suit without having to prove actual malice.

That would have been an easier argument had he not owned a piece of the 2012 NBA championship team.

Or had he not had a street named after him in Sunny Isles, a municipality in Miami-Dade County where he owns a plethora of shopping malls.

Or had he not had a special day designated in his honor in that same municipality as the Miami New Times pointed out last year when this whole mess started.

And if he wasn’t a public figure before, he will most likely be once his photo goes viral under the Streisand effect.

The Streisand effect is a primarily online phenomenon in which an attempt to hide or remove a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely. It is named after American entertainer Barbra Streisand, whose attempt in 2003 to suppress photographs of her residence inadvertently generated further publicity.

Since 2011, Katz has been trying to get a judge to shut down a blog called RK Associates USA, which paints the developer in a negative light by using information that is already publicly available, which makes it even harder to prove actual malice.

The owner of the blog is a Russian-born woman named Irina Chevaldina who states the following in the heading of her blog:

This blog presents publicly available information about RK Centers (former RK Associates),including court records, media publications and opinions. Raanan Katz is the owner of RK Associates (Centers). Raanan Katz is a minor owner of Miami Heat. This blog is not associated in any way with RK Centers and RK Associates official websites and blogs.

Katz has been unable to intimidate Chevaldina into removing the photo, so he had his lawyers sue Google, which makes about as much sense as picking a fight with LeBron James when you couldn’t even scare the ball boy.

Chevaldina has retained First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza, publisher of The Legal Satyricon blog, a longtime Photography is Not a Crime reader, who provided the following statement:

The case began about a year ago, when Katz brought a SLAPP suit against Ms. Chevaldina. Apparently he didn’t like that she was making his litigation history and tactics public. Florida state courts don’t post everything up on line like federal courts, so this was a valuable public service. This is what citizen journalists do — their blogs are where stories first bubble up from the depths.
A few weeks ago, Katz’s lawyers tried to get a preliminary injunction against Chevaldina’s continued blogging. They actually asked the court to order her blog completely shut down. Failing at that, Katz hired a second law firm to file this silly copyright complaint as a collateral attack on her First Amendment rights.
My guess is that their strategy is this: If you keep whiffing against a small time blogger, you might as well then just pick a fight with one of the biggest companies in the world. Sit back and get your popcorn and watch how this one works out. I want to thank Mr. Katz for bringing in an 800 lb gorilla to help me in his unsupportable SLAPP suit.
We have yet to speak to Google’s lawyers about this case, but we expect that they will be receptive to standing up for the First Amendment along with us.
I’m defending the case along with Robert Kain and Darren Spielman of Kain & Associates.

Randazza and Kain responded to Katz’s complaint with an impressive 30-page brief detailing just how frivolous this lawsuit is.

If it makes any difference to Katz, I was celebrating the Heat victory along with the rest of Miami.

UPDATE; Here is Katz’s lawsuit against Chevaldina where he accuses her of “cyber-bullying” as well as another suit Katz is filing against Randazza and the other lawyers defending her, accusing them of “conspiring” with her against Katz and asking for at least $15,000 in damages.

And the story was posted on Boing Boing, ensuring the Streisand effect is in, well, full effect.


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