Judge rules in dueling blogs lawsuit

A federal judge has ruled partially in favor of the Liberal OC blog in a lawsuit against the former editor of another well-read political site, the Orange Juice Blog.

U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter awarded $30,000 in damages for cybersquatting in a partial summary judgment to Thinking Liberally Media, Liberal OC's owner, and Irvine-based Madison Alexander PR, according to court records.

The court has previously ordered the Orange Juice Blog to pay $17,000 in damages.

"We were very happy and relieved — this has been an almost two-year process," said Daniel Chmielewski, an editor for Liberal OC and owner of Madison Alexander PR.

Chmielewski added that he considers the lawsuit pretty much closed.

Thinking Liberally Media and Madison Alexander PR filed a lawsuit in February 2010 against the Orange Juice Blog and its former editor, Art Pedroza, personally for alleged common law trademark infringement and unfair business practices. The two sued after alleging that Pedroza bought domain names associated with them and tried to sell the domain names back to them for thousands of dollars.

"What this suit was from the start was an attack on free speech," Pedroza said in an email. "I am sad that these alleged liberals spent two years trying to ruin my life and trying to abridge my right to free speech. What a waste."

According to the original complaint, Pedroza bought the domain names of people associated with the Liberal OC — as well as liberalocblog.com and madisonalexanderpublicrelations.com — after learning that Chmielewski had bought his domain name, http://www.artpedroza.com, from one of Pedroza's former associates with whom he had a falling out.

Chmielewski at one point linked Pedroza's domain name to a Liberal OC article critical of Pedroza, according to the original complaint.

On the site related to Madison Alexander PR, Pedroza routed it to the North American Man/Boy Love Assn., then a hemorrhoids website and sites related to the Liberal OC back to his Orange Juice Blog.

In Pedroza's reply to the court, which the judge threw out, he argued that his purchase of the domain names was in an attempt to barter for his own.

It was also meant to be parody, including redirecting the sides to other websites, according to court documents.

He is considering whether to challenge Thursday's ruling.

"I am checking into my options and will appeal this if I can, because it sets a terrible anti-free speech precedent," he said.


Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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