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Thread: Something Else I've Wondered About.

  1. #1
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    Something Else I've Wondered About.

    A couple of us at work were discussing the moon hoax, and this question popped up.

    Let's assume that Bart Sibrel really believes that the moon landings were real, but he realized that he could make a bunch of money scamming people. Then a few years from now, he comes out and states that he only produced his movie to delibrately scam people. He could make money here as well.

    The question is, "Is he liable for fraud, since he knowingly pulled off this scam?"

  2. #2
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    Re: Something Else I've Wondered About.

    The question is, "Is he liable for fraud, since he knowingly pulled off this scam?"

    According to my inexpert opinion of American law, no. He offered for sale a video purporting to give evidence that the moon landings were faked. For their money, viewers received a video containing the promised evidence. Whether the viewer considers that evidence convincing or valuable is a subjective opinion, ergo caveat emptor.

    There is no legal requirement that the filmmaker actually believe the evidence either. He may knowingly publishing statements with which he does not agree without fear of prosecution.

    However in that exact phrasing, "I did it deliberately to scam people," may be the grounds for action. Surely with such a brazen admission someone will sue him and force him to defend himself. But in American courts the notion of fraud is inextricably tied with monetary loss. The viewer pays for the intellectual property, but it is difficult to determine the "true" value of that property prior to a claim of fraud. If the videos were blank, or contained merely Sibrel's home movies of his cat, that would be better grounds for fraud since the viewer expected -- and paid for -- a statement of evidence against Apollo.

    But people believe Sibrel's video regardless of his claims. That is, there is no clear disparity between Sibrel's claims made in advertising, and the content of the video he distributes. If he instead sold videos claiming they contained the movie Die Hard, and in fact the actual movie contained therein was an industrial documentary about die-cast molding, there would be a more interesting legal question there. People expecting the Bruce Willis action movie might be legitimately confused.

    Now I believe U.K. law is very much stricter than U.S. law when it comes to truth in advertising.

    Admitting he never believed any of his conclusions and deliberately painted a misleading picture would introduce an interesting element of defamation law. Currently Sibrel calls the astronauts and responsible NASA officials liars and frauds. Now these individuals are celebrities and are thus expected to have a somewhat thicker skin than the average person. Being attacked in public is just something that comes with celebrity. However, if the author of a putatively libelous statement admits doing it deliberately, that is evidence of actual malice and defamation law can have a greater foothold.

    Simply put, if Sibrel admits to having produced his video solely to scam the public, he may be opening himself up to libel suits from astronauts and NASA employees.

    Again, I'm not a lawyer.

  3. #3
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    Re: Something Else I've Wondered About.

    Quote Originally Posted by JayUtah
    Currently Sibrel calls the astronauts and responsible NASA officials liars and frauds. Now these individuals are celebrities and are thus expected to have a somewhat thicker skin than the average person. Being attacked in public is just something that comes with celebrity.
    I agree...but...Usually when one thinks of celebrity, one thinks of a person who seeks fame and fortune. Certainly the Apollo Astronauts understood that they would become famous but if you were to ask them, they were just test pilots "doing their job". They certainly didn't become rich for just going to the Moon. (Ironically some became rich working in the private sector..long after their claim to fame was over).

    Like I said I agree with your point. It's just makes me mad that they can't sue the pants off of Sibrel, and that he can continue making money calling my childhood
    heroes liars.
    The facts, gentlemen, and nothing but the facts, for careful eyes are narrowly watching. Isaac Asimov

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    Are we then to suppose that Bart Sibrel, being a self-created celebrity, has a skin of adequate thickness that someone might shower him with degrading epithets (as he has done to certain astronauts) without fear of legal action? Because that would be fun. But I doubt that the standards he applies to others apply to him.

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    Technically yes. Bart Sibrel seeks celebrity status, therefore he is more immune to libel than the average joe.

  6. #6
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    Re: Something Else I've Wondered About.

    Quote Originally Posted by jrkeller
    A couple of us at work were discussing the moon hoax, and this question popped up.

    Let's assume that Bart Sibrel really believes that the moon landings were real, but he realized that he could make a bunch of money scamming people. Then a few years from now, he comes out and states that he only produced his movie to delibrately scam people. He could make money here as well.

    The question is, "Is he liable for fraud, since he knowingly pulled off this scam?"
    Ah ha!!

    But here is a side thought. Why can't we pressure his internet hosting service where he sells his video to drop him?

    www.moonmovie.com is run by http://icglink.com/

    We can email webmaster@ICGLINK.COM and tell them what Bart is doing (as described on www.bartsibrel.com) and see if they would drop a scam artist as their customer.


    (from Network Solutions' whois service)

    Domain Name: MOONMOVIE.COM

    Administrative Contact:
    Webmaster, ICGLink (JM878) webmaster@ICGLINK.COM
    ICG Link, Inc.
    7003 Chadwick Drive, Suite 111
    Brentwood, TN 37027
    US
    (615) 370-1530 (615) 370-9997
    Technical Contact:
    ICG Link Hostmaster (IL802-ORG) hostmaster@ICGLINK.COM
    ICG Link
    7003 Chadwick Dr, Ste 111
    Brentwood, TN 37027
    US
    (615) 370-1530
    Fax- - (615) 370-9997

  7. #7
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    Most service providers don't want to act as cops. They are neither qualified nor authorized to enforce the law. Nine times out of ten they'll tell you they'll comply with a court order to remove the site, but that it's your responsibility to obtain that court order. It mostly has to do with their liability. If they take down a site -- especially a commercial one -- on their own authority under the suspicion that it's violating the law, then they might be held liable for the loss of income if the site were later determined to be entirely lawful. If they take down the site in response to a court order, there is no liability for lost income.

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    Attacking someone through their infrastructure is unethical IMO. It's pretty much the same thing as when Tezzer (in the PX forum) tried to get the BA's server to shut us down. It's dirty pool.

    Besides, we don't want to be accused of promoting censorship. Unless he shows truly illegal activity, then the best way to fight is by promoting the truth.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayUtah
    Most service providers don't want to act as cops. They are neither qualified nor authorized to enforce the law.
    Maybe it is just Texas, but the hosting service I am about to switch to had strict rules with not having any hosted web site have "adult" content. I suppose it is up to them to determine what "adult" means.

    Like any web hosting company, they do not any bad publicity.

    So, with all due respect, I think you are wrong here.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Hall
    It's pretty much the same thing as when Tezzer (in the PX forum) tried to get the BA's server to shut us down.
    He did that!

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    So, with all due respect, I think you are wrong here.

    There's a difference between terms of service and pure illegality.

    If I have a hosting business, nothing prevents me from offering you my service under my terms. We sign a contract. The contract stipulates what you may not publish while I host your site. I can quite easily say "No adult content," and the contract says that I'm the judge of what constitutes adult content, and by agreeing to the contract you agree to my judgment. Those types of service agreements exist, but they tend to work against you because customers can always find less restrictive services. Having someone sign away part of his freedom in order to do business with you is not always good business policy.

    ISPs are becoming increasingly liable vicariously for things like copyright violation, so they are starting to clamp down. But service agreements can't cover everything. So they typically say at the bottom, "Don't do anything illegal." Well, the judgment whether something is or isn't legal always rests with the courts, and so by saying I'll comply with a legal order to remove the material keeps me safer from vicarious liability while offering you maximum freedom. If I were more worried than normal about vicarious liability I might decide to exercise more control than the legal system would, and enforce that control via contract. But again, that will either drive away customers or expose me to liability from the other side.

    Regarding the ethics of shutting down a site by going after its provider, I agree that's "dirty pool". My goal isn't to keep the conspiracy theorists from speaking. It's simply to provide a more meaningful scientific and logical framework for evaluating that speech. Done correctly, it makes the conspiracy theory speech unmarketable. The speakers themselves realize there is no advantage anymore to offering those ideas.

  12. #12
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    Regarding the ethics of shutting down a site by going after its provider, I agree that's "dirty pool". My goal isn't to keep the conspiracy theorists from speaking. It's simply to provide a more meaningful scientific and logical framework for evaluating that speech. Done correctly, it makes the conspiracy theory speech unmarketable. The speakers themselves realize there is no advantage anymore to offering those ideas.
    Good point. By doubting, we come to inquire and by inquiry we arrive at truth.

    From that perspective. Bart Sibrel might be considered a necessary evil.

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    If Sibrel were to announce that this whole thing was a "get rich quick" scheme on his part, some years hence, I don't know if the Feds could prosecute him for fraud, but you can bet the lawyers would be coming out of the woodwork to launch as many civil lawsuits as they possibly could. Sibrel would soon find his finances drained completely. It would, be sweet, sweet justice.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tuckerfan
    If Sibrel were to announce that this whole thing was a "get rich quick" scheme on his part, some years hence, I don't know if the Feds could prosecute him for fraud, but you can bet the lawyers would be coming out of the woodwork to launch as many civil lawsuits as they possibly could. Sibrel would soon find his finances drained completely. It would, be sweet, sweet justice.
    Maybe he is brighter than he seems. He says things like, "... video that QUESTIONS the VALIDITY of the moon landings..." instead of saying that he has proof. Also, he says on his web site that there are "15 REASONS why the moon landing were fake" instead of calling the points he makes as "evidence".

    So, in reality, perhaps he is just an entertainer.

    Or he is just covering his tail in case he ever has to admit that it was never to be taken seriously.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glom
    Quote Originally Posted by David Hall
    It's pretty much the same thing as when Tezzer (in the PX forum) tried to get the BA's server to shut us down.
    He did that!
    Oh man. What is this about? Someone fill me in with the details!
    Please!?

  16. #16
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    See here Bill,

    Major Planet X sighting in Britain

    Peace Offering

    You'll get the general gist, lots of hot air, not too much substance.

    Cheers,
    C.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by freddo
    See here Bill,

    Major Planet X sighting in Britain

    Peace Offering

    You'll get the general gist, lots of hot air, not too much substance.

    Cheers,
    C.
    Wow.

    I haven't been over at the PX forum in a long while, since PX doesn't really interest me. But boy howdy does seem like things are jumping over there. I might have to spend more time over there (at least til another troll shows up here for more debate in their patented hot-n-spicy way).

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