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In about as much time as it takes to type out a 140-character tweet, Twitter and St. Louis manager Tony La Russa have settled their legal dispute.
Last month, La Russa sued Twitter, claiming that someone had registered his name and began posting offensive comments. La Russa claimed the faux poster had caused him emotional distress and before Friday’s game, commented, “There is a law against improperly using a person’s name without authorization, and it wasn’t authorized.”
Legal observers doubted that La Russa stood much chance of winning this case.
“There were strong indications that this is parody,” said Michael McCann, a Vermont Law School professor and contributor to the Sports Law Blog.
Wendy Seltzer, a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, told the Associated Press that La Russa might have had a better case against the pranksters who posted the material.
Nevertheless, the case has been settled. La Russa says he made his point, although only four people had signed up to follow “TonyLaRussa” before he raised the profile of his digital doppelganger.
UPDATE: Twitter is disputing news reports that the company has settled the case. The company offers an update on its blog, saying, “Twitter has not settled, nor do we plan to settle or pay. With due respect to the man and his notable work, Mr. La Russa’s lawsuit was an unnecessary waste of judicial resources bordering on frivolous.”
The company has stepped up to plate with a new plan to fight its impersonation problem. The company says they are rolling out a beta preview of something called “Verified Accounts,” targeted during its experiment phase to “public officials, public agencies, famous artists, athletes, and other well known individuals at risk of impersonation.”
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