Gawker vs. Hulk Hogan Sex Tape Suit Gets Weird-er

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dudeglove

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#1  Edited By dudeglove

UPDATE II (25/05/2016)

Resurrecting this thread somewhat because of two things.

1. As can be seen from Twitter, there's currently an appeal going on

Judge Campbell denies Hogan's motion to strike Gawker's motion for a new trial #hulkvsgawk

— Anna Phillips (@annamphillips) May 25, 2016

2. Nick Denton said the other day on Forbes that he believes/has a hunch a silicon valley billionaire has been assisting Hogan's lawyers all this time. Of all people this has (apparently) turned out to be Peter Thiel, who is known for a bunch of things (Palantir, Paypal, Facebook), but specific to Gawker, back in '07, Valleywag for some reason deemed it fit to attempt to out him as gay (which he later did anyway).

I didn't think this thing would become a circus, but somehow it really has.

UPDATE (original post below)

Given recent events, I feel inclined to update this thread. Given that nearly every other media outlet is obsessed with either slamming or promoting a particular presidential candidate, this Gawker Media vs. Terry Bollea suit is actually happening (y'know, rather than seeking an out of court settlement or something)..

If you wish to follow this shit show like I am, I recommend following the tweets of Anna Phillips from the Tampa Bay Times, who sat in on the juror selection process and is frequently tweeting details of court proceedings. Some of the juror comments have been stellar

Male juror, daily newspaper reader: "The only impression I have is that all parties involved have some serious moral issues.” #hulkvsgawk

— Anna Phillips (@annamphillips) March 2, 2016

She's also done a good write up of events so far. There's also the #hulkvsgawk hashtag you can follow if you feel like it.

ST. PETERSBURG — Four years after a video of him having sex with a friend's wife was posted online, former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan took the witness stand on Monday, saying the episode had "completely humiliated" him.

This was not the chest-beating, shirt-ripping Hogan of the wrestling ring. Nor was it the "All-American" entertainer who told children to say their prayers and take their vitamins.

This was Terry Bollea, Hogan's real name, a man in search of sympathy and $100 million in compensation.

"I was embarrassed by what it did to me as a person, but it was even embarrassing as a character," he said of the publication of the sex tape. "Hulk Hogan was embarrassed."

On Monday, the opening day of the trial for the invasion of privacy lawsuit Bollea brought against the website Gawker, he described how he came to be secretly filmed by his former best friend, Tampa radio DJ Bubba the Love Sponge Clem.

Bollea took the stand dressed in his typical courtroom attire of a black suit and black bandana, his Fu Manchu mustache in a perpetual frown. More than anything, the 62-year-old father of two looked tired.

In 2007, after telling him he was "too told" and "too slow," his wife of 25-years announced plans to leave him and move to California. Bollea said he sought the comfort of his closest friend, who offered up his wife, Heather Clem.

"It was so weird and so crazy," Bollea said. "My gut was telling me this was wrong."

Five years later, when Gawker posted a one-minute and 41-second excerpt of the sex tape online, Bollea said he "went numb" at the news.

"My hands started shaking violently," he said.

He confronted Clem, demanding to know if he was behind the video, only to be assured his friend had nothing to do with it. Later, he would learn Clem had made the recording, burned it to a DVD, and stashed it in his unlocked desk drawer. The two settled out of court in 2012.

Attorneys for Gawker argue that Bollea invited coverage of his sex life by boasting about his sexual prowess for years, often publicly. By writing and speaking about his sex life, he has made it a matter of public interest, they say, and fair game for reporters.

"Mr. Bollea has spent years telling the public why he is a role model," Gawker attorney Michael Berry told the jury. But the video "showed something different."

"Gawker believes this kind of reporting is important," he said, adding that it was not for profit, as Bollea's attorneys maintain.

Posts like the one of Bollea that were labeled NSFW (Not Safe For Work) did not carry advertising or messages from sponsors, Berry said.

In his testimony, Bollea sought to distance himself from the famous character he created decades ago, when he was a young wrestler earning $25 a match.

Hulk Hogan is loud and boastful, he said, but Terry Bollea is "soft spoken to a fault," and has trouble saying "no" to his grown children. Hulk Hogan can't admit he's going bald; Terry Bollea acknowledges in open court that he wears a bandana to hide his hair loss.

"Terry Bollea is a normal person," he said. "Wrestling is his job."

To prove he could summon the character at will, he turned to the jury and growled one of his trademark phrases: "Hey, how ya doin', brother?"

The man who went on dozens of radio and television shows and talked in lurid detail about his sex life?

That was Hulk Hogan, Bollea said.

Gawker themselves have been relatively silent (possibly due to the judge's repeated warnings), merely posting a link to the livestream of the trial.

There's something to note about Gawker since I last posted about this. Back in October 2015, CEO Nick Denton, presumably all but completely out of money has done the ludicrously stereotypical move of not just seeking outside investor cash, but Russian oil oligarch billionaireoutside investor cash. Enter Viktor Vekselberg (well, technically his US investment arm called Renova Group)

Putin to the right, dunno the guy in the left
Putin to the right, dunno the guy in the left

If Gawker Media desperately seeking oligarch money doesn't scream to you how messed up this all is, the contract they signed with Vekselberg makes it abundantly clear what sort of influence Vekselberg has. Despite being labeled as a "minority investor", it's not an accident that several articles are labeling him "Gawker's new boss". I don't have a copy of the contract in front of me, but I've been reliably told that the Renova/Vekselberg contract basically states that the "minority investor" has the say in both editorial direction and the hiring process of Gawker Media. That isn't what I call a "minority".

From this point on it'll be interesting to see how nasty (if at all) the surrounding media get about this (specifically First Look Media, Vox, Buzzfeed et al.) and whether or not they can tear themselves away from the presidential back'n'forth.

(Update ends here)

So get this, Gawker media is currently in a legal battle against Hulk Hogan over the fact it posted a sex tape by Hogan three years ago and wouldn't take it down. The "celebrities having sex on camera" isn't the weird part, so much - hey, remember when those were in vogue? There's even a Fred Durst one out there for some reason (please don't go looking for that) - it's that Gawker has two things on its plate:

1. This suit could potentially bankrupt the entire company. If you don't know what Gawker is, it's the media company that runs Kotaku, Jezebel, io9, Valleywag, etc. Now, Hogan's side is seeking a $100 million damage claim and while It's highly doubtful that if successful the whole sum would even be awarded to the Hulkster, even a fraction of that amount (not to mention court fees) could ruin Gawker. Via Capital New York:

Nick Denton is preparing for the biggest fight of his life. The Gawker Media founder and C.E.O.'s opponent: celebrated professional wrestler Hulk Hogan (real name: Terry Bollea), who sued Denton and Gawker in 2012 after the gossip blog published a supercut of his sex tape and refused to take it down. The case has seen numerous twists and turns over the past three years, but it’s finally set to come to trial in Pinellas County, Fla.—where Hogan lives—on July 6.

Denton faces a judge and jury who are skeptical of, if not outright hostile to, his blog empire and philosophy of reporting the “story behind the story,” and some inside Gawker say that they expect the company to lose the case. A loss, and an award of even a fraction of the $100 million Hogan’s attorneys are seeking, could empty the company’s coffers, forcing Denton to either sell the company outright or to hand much of its equity over to deep-pocketed investors.

2. To combat said suit, Denton & co. over at Gawker are using whatever methods they can. One of which is filing a Freedom of Information Act against the FBI for, well, read on. Via Pando.com (unlocked for the next two days).

Back in May, Gawker even filed a lawsuit against the FBI, following an unsuccessful attempt to FOIA documents relating to an investigation into the release of the tape.

Through this lawsuit, Gawker seeks to compel the Agencies to provide records it requested through FOIA relating to an FBI investigation, conducted in 2012, into the source and distribution of video footage depicting Terry Gene Bollea, professionally known as Hulk Hogan (“Hogan”), engaged in a sexual affair...

Specifically Gawker demanded the FBI hand over...

a) communications between Hogan and his counsel with the FBI; b) documents related to video recordings depicting Hogan engaged in sexual c) activity with Ms. Clem, including the recordings themselves; statements by Hogan and/or his counsel; and

d) records pertaining to the source and distribution of the video recordings, or attempts to disseminate or sell those video recordings.

Yes, you read that correctly. Gawker asked the FBI to hand over any tapes it had of Hulk Hogan having sex.

Finally, this past Friday, the FBI sent its response to the lawsuit. And it'll surprise you not a jot to learn that the federal government, while acknowledging the existence of a criminal investigation into the release of the tape, still refuses to hand over to a gossip site video footage of a professional wrestler having consensual sex with an adult woman...

Note also that the FBI is asking the court to order Gawker to pay its costs in responding to the lawsuit.

Why, you might ask? If you didn't bother reading, the idea seems to be that Hogan himself is culpable in distributing said tape (rather than, y'know, TMZ, which posted the tape about seven months before Gawker ever did its supercut), and to prove this Gawker filed a FOIA with the FBI- in an effort to avoid paying massive legal costs.

Instead, the FBI suit failed, meaning Gawker has to pay those costs too on top of the looming Hogan case.

TL;DR? A sex tape from 2006 of a washed up wrestler is potentially bankrupting the folks who run Kotaku to the tune of a 100 million dollars. I personally learned today that Hogan's real name is Terry Bollea.

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MikeW1980UK

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I imagine this is pretty short sighted but I think any organisation that tries to shame celebs deserves this type of treatment.

So what, two people filmed themselves having sex. If I wasn't a horny teenager, I would have thought the same about the Pamela Anderson tape.

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Firepaw

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I don't know why but when I read the title of this thread, I thought it was about some sort of suit that you wear, which was really confusing.

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jiggajoe14

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You lost me at Fred Durst's sex tape

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Humanity

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The selfish side of me would love to see Gawker stop existing in all capacity but the rational side thinks that thousands of people losing their jobs over a washed up wrestlers sex tape from nearly 10 years ago isn't worth it.

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dudeglove

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@humanity said:

The selfish side of me would love to see Gawker stop existing in all capacity but the rational side thinks that thousands of people losing their jobs over a washed up wrestlers sex tape from nearly 10 years ago isn't worth it.

I think the more likely outcome is that Denton will be ousted entirely as CEO.

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LarryDavis

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@humanity: to be fair the tape (or the events depicted therein) was also likely instrumental in Hogan's divorce, whether officially cited or not. His wife had mentioned infidelity specifically.

Also, fuck all Gawker sites.

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TheHT

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This suit could potentially bankrupt the entire company.

WHOOPS

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Shindig

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Gawker sues wrestler. You won't believe what happens next!

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Wilshere

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HULKAMANIA RUNS WILD ON YOU

Should tech Gawker no to be hypocritical.

Good luck Hulkster!

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newmoneytrash

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I imagine this is pretty short sighted but I think any organisation that tries to shame celebs deserves this type of treatment.

So what, two people filmed themselves having sex. If I wasn't a horny teenager, I would have thought the same about the Pamela Anderson tape.

Just so people know, the sex tape was filmed without Hulk Hogan's knowledge. It was done secret camera style with the idea to leverage the footage against Hulk Hogan later for money.

Gawker is a disgusting business in many ways and this lawsuit is entirely legitimate. If this sends Gawker bankrupt, they will have brought it on themselves.

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probablytuna

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#12  Edited By probablytuna
No Caption Provided

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SquirrelGOD

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I hope Hogan slams Gawker JUST LIKE HE DID ANDRE THE GIANT IN THE SILVERDOME IN FRONT OF 276,000 SCREAMING HULKAMANIACS, BROTHER. Then finishes them off with one hell of a leg drop!

But, seriously, Gawker is the absolute worst and I hope they are driven out of business one way or another.

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AcidBrandon18

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So does this mean Patrick will be coming back?

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planetfunksquad

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@probablytuna: Yeah, attitudes to this kind have thing have changed in the last 9 years. No shit. Obviously not the point you were attempting to make though.

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Musubi

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So does this mean Patrick will be coming back?

lmao my thoughts exactly.

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SquirrelGOD

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@planetfunksquad: Gawker also posted the leaked photos of Seth Rollins earlier this year. They're kinda hypocritical dicks...that, or they just hate wrestlers.

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Jesus_Phish

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@planetfunksquad: The last nine years? What are you talking about? Both the Hulk Hogan sex tape and the "Fappining" took place within two years of each other.

Gawker is a terrible company. They've some great writers working for them but that doesn't save them from how awful they and their practices are.

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Shindig

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What's hypocritical about seeing every celebrity naked forever?

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planetfunksquad

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@planetfunksquad: The last nine years? What are you talking about?

Yeah, you're right. I read "sex tape from 2006" and assumed thats when it leaked. Fuck them.

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Jellybones

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To be fair, although Jezebel is owned by Gawker, it has its own staff and policies--just like io9 and Kotaku do.

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I_Stay_Puft

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Great, I lost my appetite.

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ripelivejam

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HULKMANIA'S RUNNIN mild, brother! ;)

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Tiamatsword22

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Hopefully when Patrick comes back he finally does that Crusader Kings 2 series he mentioned once.

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AdequatelyPrepared

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@probablytuna: One is an internet favourite, the other isn't. This happens every day on reddit, with people poking fun of clearly unsolicited pictures taken of people on the train, subway, bus, whatever.

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Ramone

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#26  Edited By Ramone

This should clearly be settled by a Yapapi strap match.

Brother.

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dudeglove

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@shindig said:

What's hypocritical about seeing every celebrity naked forever?

In part it's more to do with the flagrant abuse of Gawker using the FOIA on the FBI to defend themselves against something they kinda brought upon themselves.

For those that care, the basic time frame is

- Sex tape was shot in 2006.

- Six years later, in 2012, TMZ posted it on their site.

- Seven months after TMZ posted the vid in 2012, Gawker posted a supercut of said tape on their site. Gawker refused to take the video down as others have noted in the thread. From there the lawsuit of Hogan vs. Gawker began.

- July 6th 2015 is when the trial is set to begin.

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recroulette

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#28  Edited By recroulette

Can't wait for CBSi to buy Kotaku in the ensuing firesale to have Patrick return to Giant Bomb.

Edit: And beaten to that joke multiple times, we have some Real Americans in here.

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Humanity

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@acidbrandon18 said:

So does this mean Patrick will be coming back?

lmao my thoughts exactly.

I imagine he left because he wasn't as happy here as he is at Kotaku. I could see Patrick going to Polygon next or just freelancing for various publications.

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civid

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Hopefully this means great sites like Kotaku and io9 (what, I like them) won't be affiliated with the burning trashbag that Gawker seems to be. Also that their interface might change? Because jesus, as much as I enjoy Kotaku, their site design looks like something that is just done with HTML code.

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korwin

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@humanity said:
@demoskinos said:
@acidbrandon18 said:

So does this mean Patrick will be coming back?

lmao my thoughts exactly.

I imagine he left because he wasn't as happy here as he is at Kotaku. I could see Patrick going to Polygon next or just freelancing for various publications.

In the event that Gawker get's taken out the brands will be sold off, odd's are an entity like AOL/Verizon or Whalerock would probably buy Kotaku much like CBS picked up Giant Bomb and Comic Vine in the Whiskey split.

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Kazona

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Meh, you reap what you sow I guess. While I feel bad for the people that might potentially lose their job over this, I don't feel bad for Gawker as a company. I mean, come on, you post a video of someone having sex; someone with quite a bit of money even. He asks you politely to take the video down and you refuse. What did you think was gonna happen next? If they didn't see this one coming from miles away they have a lot more to worry about than the current lawsuit and it might even be better for everyone if these people stop being in charge of a company.

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AlexW00d

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rip gawker.

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Rebel_Scum

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Hope the lawyers are saying their prayers and eating their vitamins.

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deactivated-5e49e9175da37

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Burn, Gawker, burn
I smell a riot going on -- first they're guilty, now they're gone
Yeah I'll check out a website -- But it'll take a smart one to be right
Get me the hell away from these queen bees -- All these news and views are beneath me
So all I hear about is dicks falling out -- About Hogan putting Gawker's head out

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chilibean_3

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It's so hard to take the side of Gawker in anything. A few decent sites surrounded by absolute trash. Like, I'm glad Deadspin existed 8 years ago but goodness is it awful now.

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ZolRoyce

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#39  Edited By ZolRoyce

Reading this thread pretty much backs up what I think, I don't think every Gawker affiliated site is 100% terrible, some of them have good people working for them, but their overseers are a bunch of assholes and I hope Hogan burns them down to the ground and takes a shit on their ashes.
If only he was going after TMZ as well.

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GiantLizardKing

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#40  Edited By GiantLizardKing

Hogan is the only one with 24 inch pythons, so it's different.

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Kidavenger

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It seems fairly obvious that they have done a shitty thing, but I'm curious about what law they actually broke?

They must have felt fairly confident posting the story in the first place and when they ignored the take down request, so what angle did they miss?

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Milkman

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WELL, LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING, MEAN GENE. GAWKER THINKS THEY CAN PLASTER THE HULKSTER'S 6 INCH PYTHON ALL OVER THE INTERNET, BROTHER BUT THEY GOT ANOTHER THING COMING, DUDE. CAUSE ME AND ALL MY LITTLE HULKAMANIACS ARE GONNA DROP THE LEGAL LEGDROP ON YOU, STEPHEN TOTILO. SO, WHATCHA GONNA DO WHEN LAWSUITMANIA RUNS WILD ON YOU, BROTHER?

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dudeglove

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It seems fairly obvious that they have done a shitty thing, but I'm curious about what law they actually broke?

It's a lawsuit, so, umm, the court kinda decides whether there's been any infringement on Hogan's rights, but if you're desperate for an answer you could probably put it down to something like defamation or violation of privacy.

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Milkman

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#44  Edited By Milkman

Jokes aside, Gawker should and likely will win this. They didn't record the tape, they didn't even originally post it on online. This is freedom of the press. Unless Hogan can argue that he somehow owns the rights to the tape (he doesn't), I don't see how he wins this. You may want to see Gawker burn or whatever but this would set a very dangerous precedent for journalists in the future.

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ChrisTaran

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I look forward to Gawker going out of business.

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Jazz_Lafayette

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#46  Edited By Jazz_Lafayette

I'm sensing some hostility, Giant Bomb. Let's focus in on that. Take that anger out of your chest and hold it in your hands. Good. Now, breathe.

Anyway, posting that video was a garbage thing to do, but there's a whole media sector freely profiting from illicit shit like it, so they must have some legal grounds. I don't know that every person under that corporate umbrella needs to lose their job over this rodeo.

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Teddie

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@milkman said:

Jokes aside, Gawker should and likely will win this. They didn't record the tape, they didn't even originally post it on online. This is freedom of the press. Unless Hogan can argue that he somehow owns the rights to the tape (he doesn't), I don't see how he wins this. You may want to see Gawker burn or whatever but this would set a very dangerous precedent for journalists in the future.

If posting a celebrity sex tape counts as journalism now, then we've already got a very dangerous precedent set.

I'm sure whatever dangerous precedent would be set by Hogan winning this case isn't nearly as bad as the reality that, according to you, someone should have no right to their private life when someone takes a video of you (which, by the way, was apparently going to be used as blackmail, and which Hogan didn't consent to being part of at all) and then gets to sell it to the press.

Also, part of the lawsuit is for damages. Pretty sure he's entitled to that at least.

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Megasheep

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@milkman said:

"but this would set a very dangerous precedent for journalists in the future."

Sorry, I don't see any journalism here.

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Milkman

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@teddie: I'm not saying someone secretly filming someone else having sex isn't fucking awful and disgusting. It is. And I'm not even saying that Gawker isn't shitty for posting it. All I'm saying is that legally, they are fully within their rights to post this on their website.

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Petiew

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@milkman: Didn't they actually get an order previously by the courts telling them to remove it, which they then ignored? I believe that's why so many people expect Hulk Hogan to win the lawsuit.