Sued Twitter-user @NoahKravitz speaks up

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Remember yesterday's article about the employer that asked its departing employee to give it back "his" Twitter account? Here's the ex-employee's side of the story...

As you may recall, this employer -- PhoneDog Media (PDM) -- wants its ex-employee -- Noah Kravitz -- to hand over the password to his Twitter account, and pay damages of $2.50 per month for each of its 17,000 followers. The eight months between the end of the employment and the lawsuit make a total of $340,000. Below is my Q&A exchange with Kravitz, with only minor edits and reformatting: Q: Did you have a contract or informal agreement with PDM about ownership of your Twitter account or its followers?

A: The agreement was that the account, which I created, was mine. My last day at PhoneDog was...October 15, 2010. On...October 18...they ran my "farewell post," which I had...submitted before my last day. The post tells people they can follow me @noahkravitz. ... Why would they point readers to the account, handle change and all, if they didn't concur that the account was mine? ... At the time I left, our relationship was good - or so I thought.

 
Q: So why was the account named @PhoneDog_Noah?

A: It's named that way because when I created the account, PhoneDog was the only place I was publishing content.

 
Q: Did you create the account, or did PDM (as it implies in the complaint)?

A: I created it.

 
Q: Are you open to some sort of compromise agreement or out-of-court settlement with PDM?

A: I'm fortunate to have great legal representation in Cary Kletter and his team at Kletter Law...but I did, and still, would love to work this all out out of court. ... [T]he last thing anybody wants is to burden our public agencies unnecessarily.

 
Q: What advice do you have for employees who are Tweeting partially on behalf of their employers?

A: I'd advise employees to ask their employers for contracts, employee handbooks, and other legally binding company policy documents regarding Twitter, social media, and anything else they might be concerned about. ... I never imagined they'd now be suing me for in excess of a quarter of a million dollars over my Twitter account. ... So do everything you can to have a great working relationship with your employers...but make sure you protect yourself...it's well worth it to cover everything you can by way of...your contract and looking into amending it whenever you feel necessary.

 
Q: Are there any facts in my article that you want to clarify?

A: PhoneDog alleges in their lawsuit that they asked me for the account and I said No. They never did. ... The only time they "asked for the account" was then they served me with a lawsuit on a Sunday night during the Summer of 2011.

[Kravitz also alleges that PDM owes him money, so there may be more to the story than a simple dispute over who owns some Twitter followers.]

 
What would you do? Leave a comment below... 

 
Now read this: PhoneDog hits back re. @NoahKravitz Twitter lawsuit
 

Richi Jennings, blogger at large

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. As well as The Long View, he's also the creator and main author of Computerworld's IT Blogwatch -- for which he has won American Society of Business Publication Editors and Jesse H. Neal awards on behalf of IDG Enterprise. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: TLV@richij.com. You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.  

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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