Ad agency sues Midcoast blogger


PORTLAND (AP) – A New York advertising agency that works for the Maine Office of Tourism is suing a Searsmont man who has used a blog to criticize the state’s Internet tourism marketing campaign.

Warren Kremer Paino Advertising LLC filed its claim in U.S. District Court in Bangor against Lance Dutson for libel, defamation and copyright infringement.

Dutson writes a Web log, or blog, called Maine Web Report in which he has posted comments critical of the tourism office’s Web marketing strategies that were developed by Warren Kremer Paino Advertising. The agency has had the state tourism advertising contract since 2002.

The suit claims that Dutson’s blog contains defamatory statements that hurt the ad agency’s reputation and its business. The agency also says it owns the copyright to certain images Dutson uses in his blog and is asking for $150,000 in damages for each work the agency said Dutson infringed.

Dutson, who runs a Web page design company, says he is being targeted simply because he’s been critical of the campaign. “It’s the latest in this battle between the whole First Amendment thing and new media,” Dutson said.

A Portland lawyer who represents Warner Kremer Paino said the suit isn’t about Dutson’s criticism.

“Our issue is that Mr. Dutson has infringed our client’s copyrights and has committed defamation and trade libel by stating facts that are inaccurate,” said Stephen Wilson.

The suit was filed on April 14, but Dutson said he wasn’t served with papers until April 22.

Dutson is a member of the Media Bloggers Association, which provides legal defense to its members.

Robert Cox, president of the Media Bloggers Association, called the suit an attempt by “a deep-pocketed litigant to bully a blogger for criticizing state officials and state contractors.

“We have successfully defended MBA members in nine previous cases and I don’t expect the outcome here to be any different,” he said.

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