Miami Heat Minority Owner Raanan Katz Sues Google, Blogger Over Unflattering Photo

Categories: Business
via RK Associates USA blog
A screen cap of the blog's offending photo. 

Has Raanan Katz never heard of the Streisand effect?

The local real estate mogul and minority owner of the Miami Heat has sued a local blogger and Google to try and get an unflattering picture of himself removed from the Internet. Of course, that means now the picture will be seen by more people than it probably would have before.


The photo in question shows Katz with his face caught in a unflattering expression, and his tongue partially out. It was original posted on a blog called RK Associates USA. Katz owns RK Associates, and their logo featuring the letters RK and a basketball hoop can be seen on many a building in the northern reaches of Miami-Dade County. It's not the first time Katz has attempted to sue the blog.

Katz and his lawyers have since identified the owner of the blog as Irina Chevaldina, and are suing her for refusing to remove the picture. Katz is also suing Google because the image comes up when you search his name.

Have Katz and his lawyers never heard of the Streisand effect

Barbara Streisand attempted to get pictures of her home removed from the Internet, but the publicity around the case caused the photos to be viewed by more people than they otherwise would have. When you try to get information removed from the web, it only ensures that more people will see it thanks to the publicity from the legal case. The fact that the lawsuit is getting attention just as the Heat won the championship isn't going to help matters.

Here's a statement that Chevaldina's attorney, Darren Spielman, sent our way:

The case began about a year ago, when Katz brought a SLAPP suit against Ms. Chevaldina. Apparently he didn't like that she was making his litigation history and aggressive business tactics public. Florida state courts don't post everything up on-line like federal courts, so the blog is a valuable public service. This is what citizen journalists do -- their blogs are where stories first bubble up from the depths. A few weeks ago, Katz's lawyers tried to get a preliminary injunction against Chevaldina's continued blogging. They asked the court to order her blog completely shut down. Failing at that, Katz hired a second law firm to file this silly copyright complaint as a collateral attack on her First Amendment rights. Their strategy is this: If you keep whiffing against a small time blogger, you might as well then just pick a fight with one of the biggest companies in the world. Sit back and get your popcorn and watch how this one works out. Katz made a mistake in bringing in an 800 lb gorilla to help stop his unsupportable SLAPP suit. We have yet to speak to Google's lawyers about this case, but we expect that they will be receptive to standing up for the First Amendment along with us.

Riptide left a message for Alan Kluger, Katz's attorney, but we haven't heard back yet.

Update: Kluger emailed Riptide a statement about the suit. Here's what Katz's attorney has to say:

It's a shame that Ms. Chevaldina thinks it is within her rights to abuse the internet to defame a hard-working, honorable private citizen. The courts have already rejected her legal positions, including rejecting her arguments that she had a first amendment right to anonymity and recognizing that her modus operandi is to take information out of context and "expand it into a totally false, malicious, and defamatory statement."

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