Section 230

Hassell v. Bird

April 17, 2017

In an appeal to the California Supreme Court, Yelp challenged a decision finding that it had to obey an injunction requiring the removal of content that had been adjudicated as libelous. Yelp had argued that it should not be subject to the order since it did not have an opportunity to defend the posts. On appeal, amici emphasized that the implications of that ruling extend beyond Yelp and that the decisions of the trial court and the Court of Appeal undermine the protections of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. If the Court of Appeal's decision is permitted to stand, Internet platforms that provide space for comment and discussion, like many news media websites, will effectively see their First Amendment interests in their forums curtailed without an opportunity to object, undermining the vitality of such forums as a place for the public to debate issues.

Sixth Circuit: not liable for user's posts, even when commentary added

Cindy Gierhart | Libel | News | June 17, 2014
June 17, 2014

Nik Richie, operator of the website, cannot be held liable for potentially defamatory remarks made by a third-party poster on his website, according to a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling released Monday.

The court reversed a district court ruling that held Richie could be liable because he “encouraged” defamatory statements and then “adopted” the statements by adding his own comments to the posts.

The court describes as “a user-generated, online tabloid” where users can post gossip about anyone, often private individuals.

Connecticut court: No liability for linking to defamatory article

Cindy Gierhart | Libel | News | May 15, 2014
May 15, 2014

A Connecticut appellate court ruled Tuesday that a website is not liable for linking to someone else’s defamatory statements, even if the website endorsed the statements.

In Vazquez v. Buhl, a senior editor for CNBC's web site posted an article online that linked to an article written by Teri Buhl. Buhl's article contained allegedly defamatory statements.

The CNBC editor introduced the linked article by saying, “I don’t want to steal Buhl’s thunder, so click on her report for the big reveal.” The editor titled the CNBC story “The Sex and Money Scandal Rocking Hedge Fund Land” and referred to Buhl as “a veteran financial reporter” who “knows her way around the Connecticut hedge fund beat.”

Federal law bars libel suit against New York bloggers

Aaron Mackey | Libel | Feature | June 15, 2011
June 15, 2011

A federal law protects website publishers who add material to defamatory posts and attempt to elicit greater discussion on the topic, New York’s highest court ruled earlier this week.

In a 4-3 decision on Tuesday, the New York Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of a defamation suit brought by the owner of a New York City apartment rental and sales company against competitors who also operate a blog that chronicles the city’s real estate industry.

Website with "rude opinions" not liable for privacy invasion

Kristen Rasmussen | Privacy | Feature | June 10, 2011
June 10, 2011

Online photographs of a bikini-clad woman accompanied by unflattering comments did not invade her privacy, a federal judge in Arizona recently ruled.

Bankruptcy court finds links in e-mail defamatory

Ellen Biltz | Content Regulation | Feature | June 3, 2010
June 3, 2010

A federal bankruptcy court in Texas became one of the first to find that individuals can be held liable for linking to defamatory blog posts earlier this year.

The court in In re Perry held that an individual's e-mail opened him up to a defamation claim even though he did not author any of the inflammatory postings himself.

Google executives face criminal prosecution in Italy

Samantha Fredrickson | Privacy | Quicklink | February 4, 2009
February 4, 2009

A group of Google lawyers and executives are facing criminal prosecution in Italy for not immediately removing from their Italian Web site a video depicting a group of teenagers teasing a boy with Downs syndrome.

Libel suit against JuicyCampus users dropped

Jason Wiederin | Libel | Feature | November 19, 2008
November 19, 2008

A University of Delaware student is withdrawing a lawsuit filed this month over allegedly libelous statements made on the Web site, nipping in the bud what could have been a test of the site's sweeping support of anonymous speech on the Internet.

Fifth Circuit holds MySpace not responsible for user misuse

Stacey Laskin | Content Regulation | Quicklink | May 22, 2008
May 22, 2008

The Fifth Circuit ruled on May 16 that neither MySpace nor its parent company, News Corporation, could be responsible for the sexual assault of an underage user who misrepresented her age to gain access to the Web site.

Court says Web site not immune under Section 230

Amy Harder | Content Regulation | Feature | April 7, 2008
April 7, 2008

A federal court of appeals ruling limiting the scope of protection under the Communications Decency Act will not drastically affect online journalism, but the future could still be uncertain, according to lawyers who wrote an amicus brief on behalf of the media.