Citizen Journalism Site Sued Over Content Posted By User

from the no-surprise-there dept

We've seen way too many cases where people blame service providers for the actions of their users, despite clear safe harbors found in section 230 of the CDA. The courts have been pretty consistent in throwing these lawsuits out, but it appears the message still hasn't reached some lawyers. Up in Brattleboro, New Hampshire, someone is suing a local citizen journalism site for comments posted by a user that were potentially defamatory. The woman is suing the person who made the comments -- which makes sense -- but also the site that hosted them. This, despite the fact that the comments on the site are unmoderated. This would seem like a clear situation where the site, iBrattleboro, is protected by section 230, but the lawyer handling the case doesn't seem to think so: "I think their defense will be that they don't read prior to publishing, but I'm not sure that will be enough to avoid some degree of liability." That seems like an odd statement as the law is pretty clear: "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider." Plus, there's a wide assortment of precedent cases that all seem to back up very similar situations as being protected.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    I Like Mike, Nov 29th, 2007 @ 1:10pm

    How is this lawyer compensated?

    If this lawyer is working on contingency then he's an idiot, but if he's billing hourly then he's negligent for not advising his client that they don't have a case. Either way he's sounds like an ambulance chaser to me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Le Blue Dude, Nov 29th, 2007 @ 1:46pm

    Re: How is this lawyer compensated?

    If he's being payed hourly he could STILL be an idot.


    Never assume malice if stupidity will suffice

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2007 @ 1:48pm

    paid* idiot*

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2007 @ 1:49pm

    link is down, mike

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Mike (profile), Nov 29th, 2007 @ 2:09pm

    Re:

    link is down, mike

    Weird. Looks like the changed the URL. Lame. I've put in the new URL. Hopefully it doesn't change again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Luci, Nov 29th, 2007 @ 2:53pm

    Re: Re:

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Online Liability Blog, Nov 29th, 2007 @ 4:13pm

    Sanctions

    I don't know all of the facts of this case, but it appears to be a conventional online defamation suit targeting the alleged author and intermediary website.

    Section 230 has been on the books for over ten years now, and its application to websites in this context is well established - it's unlikely you (plaintiff or plaintiff's lawyer) are going to get a judgment against an ISP or website operator in connection with materials written by a third party and posted by such third party on the subject website. And I don't recall reading any opinions where notice/knowledge precluded immunity under the statute.

    Eventually courts may begin sanctioning plaintiffs and/or their attorneys for bringing such lawsuits in the first place.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    LBD, Nov 29th, 2007 @ 5:36pm

    Re:

    Thanks for the spelling corrections. I think I'll go back to using Firefox. It catches errors for me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    AndrewD, Nov 30th, 2007 @ 6:47am

    Brattleboro where?

    Isn't this actually Brattleboro, Vermont? NH doesn't have one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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