Laura Prather in Inside ALEC: Enacting Anti-SLAPP Laws: Protecting Commercial Free Speech from Frivolous Lawsuits

11/06/2013


Why States Need Anti-SLAPP Laws: To Protect Information in the Marketplace
Much of neo-classical economics assumes perfect information exists in a free market, yet in the real world, things can be less transparent. The Internet is improving this ideal-versus-real-world dynamic by creating information feedback loops, which brings us much closer to (nearly) perfect information for consumers. Free markets are only truly free when information in the marketplace is maximized, and consumers clearly benefit when more information is available to them.

By providing a forum for consumer reviews of virtually any business, Yelp—a review website and smartphone and tablet app that connects over 100 million customers per month with “Main Street” small businesses—helps consumers make informed buying decisions and provides local small businesses with free, online, word-of-mouth exposure, democratizing the marketplace and promoting a level playing field. Since 2004, Yelp has provided a platform that empowers individuals to contribute information to the marketplace. The market results have been dramatic: a recent Harvard Business School study showed that a one-point increase in a business’s Yelp rating can lead to a 9 percent increase in revenue...

The Solution: Anti-SLAPP Laws in the States
During a presentation to the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Task Force on Civil Justice at the August annual meeting in Chicago, Ms. Laura Prather (Haynes and Boone, LLP) outlined the components of one of the strongest state anti-SLAPP laws in the country. The state? Texas.

Texas’s anti-SLAPP law has several important components. First, it provides a motion to dismiss a lawsuit after as little as 60 days when the lawsuit is targeted at the exercise of First Amendment rights. Second, it is applicable to anyone, so long as they are speaking out on a
“matter of public concern.” This includes not just traditional media, such as journalists and professional bloggers, but also individuals who contribute reviews of businesses or comments on websites.

Excerpted from Inside ALEC, November 6, 2013. To view full article, click here.

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