By George Rush
Sorry seems to be the hardest word for the blogger who anonymously scorned a model as a "ho" and a "skank," igniting a legal and media maelstrom.
Speaking out for the first time since a court order forced Google to reveal her identity, blogger Rosemary Port tells the Daily News that model Liskula Cohen should blame herself for the uproar.
"This has become a public spectacle and a circus that is not my doing," said Port, whose "Skanks in NYC" site branded the 37-year-old Cohen an "old hag."
"By going to the press, she defamed herself," Port said.
"Before her suit, there were probably two hits on my Web site: One from me looking at it, and one from her looking at it," Port said. "That was before it became a spectacle. I feel my right to privacy has been violated."
The pretty 29-year-old Fashion Institute of Technology student added that she's furious at Google for revealing her identity, so much so that she plans to file a $15 million federal lawsuit against the Web giant.
"When I was being defended by attorneys for Google, I thought my right to privacy was being protected," Port said.
"But that right fell through the cracks. Without any warning, I was put on a silver platter for the press to attack me. I would think that a multi-billion dollar conglomerate would protect the rights of all its users."
In her suit, she'll charge Google "breached its fiduciary duty to protect her expectation of anonymity," said her high-powered attorney Salvatore Strazzullo.
"I'm ready to take this all the way to the Supreme Court," Strazzullo said. "Our Founding Fathers wrote 'The Federalist Papers' under pseudonyms. Inherent in the First Amendment is the right to speak anonymously. Shouldn't that right extend to the new public square of the Internet?"
"I feel proud to live in a country where you're not persecuted for your opinions," Port said. "That right has to be protected.
"Even though people are now taking shots at me on the Web, I believe those people have a right to their opinions - and their anonymity," said Port, who is slated to appear on ABC's "Good Morning America" tomorrow.
A Manhattan Supreme Court judge forced Google to unmask Port, rejecting Port's claim that blogs "serve as a modern-day forum for conveying personal opinions, including invective and ranting" and shouldn't be regarded as fact.
The surprising decision, though, seems to have only increased the bad blood between the two women, who knew each other from Manhattan's fashion scene and reportedly quarreled after Cohen badmouthed Port to her ex-boyfriend.
Port's lawyer, Strazzullo, accused Cohen of being an attention-seeker who invited commentary by posting provocative pictures of herself on the Internet.
"The pictures she posted are more scandalous than any words," Strazzullo charged. "Ms. Cohen loves the spotlight. She brought this notoriety on herself. Then she used a PR circus to defame my client."
Cohen's lawyer, Steven Wagner, shot back that the model never sought the media spotlight - and might have thought twice about filing a suit if she'd known what would happen.
"The idea that Liskula brought this on herself is repulsive. It's shameful. It's like saying she had it coming," Wagner said. "We never contacted the press. If we had thought for a minute that the Google case would have brought more attention to the anonymous blogger's site, we never would have started it."
Wagner also denied that Cohen posted suggestive pictures of herself - and said Cohen proved as much in court. The raciest shots, taken at a private party, showed a fully clothed Cohen apparently simulating sex with a fully clothed man. (Cohen did post a slightly saucy shot of herself on all fours inside Cipriani's.)
"Does posting that give someone the right to call her 'a psychotic, lying whore'?" asked Wagner. "Her business was affected by the anonymous blogger's site, which had many hits before a client of Liskula brought it to her attention. I know how heartbroken she was."
Despite Cohen's victory in prying Port's name out of Google, the model has told her lawyer she does not want to go ahead with her $3 million defamation suit against Port.
"What this blogger did ought not to be condoned or forgiven. But my client is walking away from it," the lawyer said. "She's said, 'It adds nothing to my life to hurt hers.' Liskula has offered her forgiveness. But even after she has been forgiven, [Port] has no interest in redeeming her soul."
On the advice of counsel, Port wouldn't discuss why she created her blog - nor would she apologize, since it could expose her to further litigation.
"She'd be incriminating herself," Strazzullo said. "Maybe if an olive branch was extended by Ms. Cohen's team, if they agreed they wouldn't litigate, maybe she would apologize."
Unmasked blogger Rosemary Port to sue Google for $15m
By Mike Harvey
Google is to be sued for $15 million (£9 million) by an anonymous blogger who was unmasked by the internet search company.
Rosemary Port said that Google had failed to protect her right to privacy when the company obeyed a court order to reveal her name after she used her blog to accuse a former Vogue model of being a "psychotic, lying, whoring ... skank".
Liskula Cohen, 36, won a landmark case in a New York court last week, forcing Google to disclose the online identity of Ms Port, 29, a Fashion Institute of Technology student, who created her "Skanks in NYC" blog a year ago using Google's Blogger.com program.
Legal experts said that the ruling stripped away some of the anonymity provided by the web, making people who post offensive blogs, videos or tweets more responsible for their anonymous statements.
In the UK, bloggers who operate behind the cloak of anonymity have no right to keep their identities secret, the High Court ruled in June. In a landmark decision, Mr Justice Eady refused to grant an order to protect the anonymity of a police officer who was the author of the NightJack blog.
He ruled that Richard Horton had no “reasonable expectation” to anonymity because “blogging is essentially a public rather than a private activity”.
Ms Cohen claimed that Ms Port had anonymously posted photographs and “defamatory statements concerning her appearance, hygiene and sexual conduct that are malicious and untrue".
The New York Supreme Court ruled that Google must reveal the identity of the blogger.
Judge Joan Madden rejected Ms Port's claim that the blogs were a "modern-day forum for conveying personal opinions, including invective and ranting" and should not be treated as factual assertions.
After the court ruling Google turned over the e-mail address and IP addresses from each time the blogger had logged on to the blog, allowing Ms Cohen to discover the identity of her tormentor.
She said she was relieved to discover that the woman who created the blog was not someone close to her and decided not to continue with a defamation suit. The blog was deleted in March.
"We sympathise with anyone who may be the victim of cyber bullying," Andrew Pederson, a Google spokesman, said.
"We also take great care to respect privacy concerns and will only provide information about a user in response to a subpoena or other court order.
"If content is found by a court to be defamatory, we will, of course, remove it immediately."
Ms Port told the New York Daily News that the model should blame herself for all the publicity.
"This has become a public spectacle and a circus that is not my doing. By going to the press, she defamed herself," Ms Port said.
She added that she would sue Google for failing to protect the rights of its users. Her attorney, Salvatore Strazzullo, said that Google would be charged with breaching "its fiduciary duty to protect her expectation of anonymity".
"I feel proud to live in a country where you're not persecuted for your opinions," Ms Port said. "That right has to be protected.
"Even though people are now taking shots at me on the web, I believe those people have a right to their opinions — and their anonymity," she told the Daily News.
in New York Daily News & the Times Online