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Courtney Love Trial To Test Twitter Speech

LOS ANGELES (CN) - An upcoming trial involving a complaint against rocker Courtney Love may determine whether calling someone an "asswipe nasty lying hosebag thief" in an Internet message is just an expression of opinion.

Plaintiff Dawn Simorangkir, a fashion designer who sued Love last year, thinks not. Her complaint called Love's postings on both Twitter and MySpace "vile and vicious" and an extreme response to requests that she be paid for her work. Love's lawyers, however, are contending the singer's statements are a combination of protected opinion and truth.

According to the suit, Love claimed Simorangkir is a cocaine dealer who stole Love's money and clothes. Last March, "Love went on an extensive rant on Twitter whereby Love made a number of false and defamatory statements about Simorangkir.... Love claimed that Simorangkir is a felon, stole cash and goods from Love, has a history of dealing cocaine, lost custody of her children, has a history of assault and burglary, and has a record of prostitution."

Simorangkir also alleged that Love threatened her with the tweet, "[D]on't fuck with my [wardrobe] or you [will end] up in a circle of [scorched earth] hunted ['til you're] dead."

Simorangkir's lawyer Bryan Freedman with Freedman & Taitelman in his trial brief states, "Courtney Love made her intentions clear - Love was going to ruin Simorangkir for doing little more than asking Love to pay her bill. As a result, Simorangkir must now explain to her teenage son and whatever customers she may have left that Love fabricated the horrendous statements Love published about Simorangkir on Twitter, MySpace and Etsy for the world to see."

However, Love's lawyer Michael Niborski with Pryor Cashman claims otherwise.

"Ms. Love is perfectly within her right to [express] herself in a public forum - no matter how vigorous, enthusiastic, or even ugly those expressions of opinion....Plaintiff has sued Ms. Love for uttering statements that fall within these protected classes of speech," his trial brief said

Moreover, calling someone a "bitch," "thief" or a "liar" is constitutionally protected as long as the statement is true. "The literal truth of every word of a published statement does not need to be established, so long as the substance or 'sting' of the defamatory charge is true," Niborski wrote.

The trial is scheduled to start February 6 in Los Angeles Superior Court before Judge Debre Weintraub.

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