Why did Rubens Barrichello sue Orkut?

Rubens Barrichello, Honda, Istanbul, 2006Rubens Barrichello’s pursuit of legal action of Orkut.com may have severe implications for online debate of Formula One – depending on which story concerning the action is accurate.

Pitpass and grandprix.com have reported that Barrichello had a number of Orkut’s ‘communities’ closed down for material that he considered “offensive and pejorative”. Pitpass draws an interesting connection with the many F1 forums where fans debate the sport with little concern for such legal niceties as libel.

It’s a reasonable comparison to draw: In the UK recently controversial baby expert Gina Ford threatened parenting website Mumsnet with legal action over the content of their forum which Ford called, “a gross personal attack.”

Probably every Formula One driver on the grid could find grounds to complain about what visitors to one forum or another has to say about them.

Rubens Barrichello, Honda, Magny-Cours, 2006But is that what Barrichello’s gripe was actually about? Not according to realhondaf1.com who state that the lawsuit was directed about users of Orkut who had created a false profiles on the site claiming to be Barrichello’s.

Judge for yourself. But the time that public figures try to wield libel laws against Internet forums will surely come.

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