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UK court grants libel damages for fraudulent Facebook profile

[JURIST] A judge for the London High Court [official website] on Thursday ordered a British man to pay approximately $44,000 in damages for creating a fake profile on social networking website Facebook [corporate website] and posting defaming information about an acquaintance, Mathew Firsht. The judge found that the postings were libelous regarding both Firsht and a business he operates, and that factual personal information included on the page violated his privacy. Because posting false information is fairly easy and false profiles are commonly found on many social networking sites, people may not realize that what they are doing could have legal consequences under defamation laws. A lawyer for Firsht said she hopes the ruling will set a new accountability standard. AP has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

Last week, Facebook filed a copyright infringement claim [case materials] against a German competitor in the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website]. Facebook accused StudiVZ [corporate website, in German] of copying the "look and feel" of the American version of Facebook, saying that StudiVZ's success is largely due to this imitation. StudiVZ filed a petition [press release, in German; News.com report] in a German court on Sunday, calling the lawsuit baseless and seeking a declaration of non-infringement.  Last month, a California judge granted a motion [order, PDF; JURIST report] to enforce an intellectual property settlement agreement between Facebook and ConnectU [corporate website]. The ruling effectively ended the two companies' ongoing legal battle [case materials] concerning ownership of source code forming the basis of Facebook.

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