For the first time, a case of alleged libel on Twitter is going to trial and the accused is singer-actress Courtney Love.
In a 2010 tweet, Love suggested her lawyer at the time, Rhonda Holmes, had been “bought off” when she wouldn’t help Love in a legal battle with the managers of her late husband’s estate. Love was married to Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain.
A handful of Twitter libel, or Twibel, cases have been filed in the past, but Love’s case is the only one that has made it to trial in the U.S.
“The Courtney Love Twitter lawsuit is monumental because the judge has now determined that tweeting in California can potentially give rise to liability under the theory of defamation,” attorney Brian Claypool said, who is not affiliated with this case.
“The Courtney Love case will set a precedent that will result in, potentially, the average person being liable as well,” Claypool added.
Love, 49, took the witness stand Wednesday and said the tweet was merely an opinion, that the Internet is full of hyperbole and exaggeration. Love said she thought she was only tweeting it to two people. Love’s testimony is expected to continue later today.
But Holmes’ attorney told ABC News station KABC-TV that the tweet was a damaging statement.
“‘Bought off’ means somebody got to [Holmes], somebody paid her a bribe,” attorney Mitchell Langberg said.
This case could also re-write the rules for the much-loved celebrity Twitter wars that have made headlines over the years: Miley Cyrus vs. Sinead O’Connor and Demi Lovato vs. Perez Hilton just to name two.