Do Publishers Owe It to Their Readers to Ensure the Accuracy of What They Publish?
Entrepreneurâ€™s argument may hold up in court, but what about for subscribers?
Earlier this month, I wrote about a weak case against Entrepreneur ("A Ponzi Suit That Sounds Like a Scam") in which a group of investors filed suit, alleging the magazine misled them about a company featured on its â€śHot 100â€ť list.
According to the suit, Entrepreneur â€śdeliberately, willfully and recklessly failed to exercise due diligence in publishing informationâ€ť about a company called Agape, whose founder, Nicholas Cosmo, was arrested and charged with a $370 million mail fraud. (According to Time.com, it appeared Cosmo was running an alleged Ponzi scheme, similar to Bernie Madoff's.)
At the time, I said the lawsuit was bogus. And I still think it is. But one of the arguments Entrepreneur is using to try to convince the court to dismiss the claimâ€”while, perhaps, legally correctâ€”sounds as almost as egregious as the lawsuit itself.
According to court documents filed yesterday, Entrepreneur, citing rulings in similar court cases, argued that it is â€śunder no duty to provide information with care to its readersâ€ť:
â€śNew York law establishes â€¦ that a publisher is under no duty of care to its readers to ensure the accuracy of published informationÂ â€¦ A publisher, even those who maintain a paid subscription service, such as Entrepreneur, owes its readers no duty to ensure the accuracy of its publications, and thus, cannot incur liability for an allegedly inaccurate statement.â€ť
A magazine is â€śunder no duty to provide information with care to its readers?â€ť Iâ€™m sorry, what?!?!
If not, then why publish a magazine or Web site in the first place? (â€śScrew readers, they donâ€™t need trusted information!â€ť)
What about the subscribers who invest in Entrepreneur? Donâ€™t they deserve accuracy? Or at least care?
Again, itâ€™s probably all legaleze, but itâ€™s awfully weird for a publisher to argue it isnâ€™t obligated to care about its readers.
Click here for a PDF of the court documents.
Entrepreneurâ€™s better argument (somewhat buried on page 10) is about the purpose of its â€śHot 100â€ťâ€”and why investors shouldnâ€™t necessarily deem a company on the list worthy of their hard-earned cash.
â€śThe Hot 100â€ť list, Entrepreneur said, was â€śoffered as informative material to an audience of general readersâ€ť and does not â€śdraw any conclusions nor makes any recommendations to its readers, as to the financial suitability of an investment in any of the listed companies.â€ť
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