Congress Looks To Extend Safe Harbors To Service Providers Hit By Foreign Rulings

from the good-news! dept

We've often talked about the importance of service provider "safe harbors" found in the CDA and the DMCA. To be honest, these safe harbor laws shouldn't be necessary at all, since it should be common sense that the user of a service is liable for his or her actions rather than the service provider. In practice, however, we've learned that common sense isn't so common -- and it's not unusual for individuals (and sometimes judges and politicians) to blame service providers. Thus, safe harbors are key to bringing common sense to the law. However, we've definitely seen that such common sense is often totally lacking in foreign countries that have no recognition at all concerning the separation between a service provider and a user. Witness, for example, LVMH's victory over eBay in France, or the fact that Google execs are facing criminal charges in Italy over a video of kids attacking a disabled boy that was uploaded to its site (and quickly removed).

It appears that US politicians have finally realized this is a problem. While it doesn't appear to be a blanket safe harbor, it appears that Congress is currently considering a bill that would allow US companies to ignore foreign rulings in defamation cases against service providers, where the issue is actually the action of a user. While limited to just defamation cases (for now), this is important, especially since so many other countries have more draconian defamation laws that lead to "defamation tourism" as people try to find the most favorable countries in which to file a defamation lawsuit. Making it so that the US won't recognize those rulings will help protect US companies from bogus and misguided defamation suits around the world.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 5:18pm

    Making it so that the US won't recognize those rulings will help protect US companies from bogus and misguided defamation suits around the world.

    And give even more fuel to the anti-American sentiment that the US does what it wants when it wants... :(

     

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

  2.  
    icon
    Allen (profile), Jun 17th, 2009 @ 5:51pm

    If a US company has an local operating entity in some foreign jurisdiction the local operating entity is going to be subject the laws and regulations of the jurisdiction in which it operates.

    So this is only going to help to the extent that a US company isn't operating in the foreign jurisdiction in which prosecution is already problematical.

    Seems like political grand standing to me. Play to the masses who seem to think US law actually makes a difference in foreign jurisdictions.

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    CleverName, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 6:22pm

    agreed

    sense is not very common

    I'm patiently waiting for the bad car analogy.

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 6:24pm

    wow, if only the story truly matched the headline

     

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

  5.  
    icon
    Esahc (profile), Jun 17th, 2009 @ 7:39pm

    Re:

    Isn't being a sovereign nation great.

     

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

  6.  
    icon
    Esahc (profile), Jun 17th, 2009 @ 7:44pm

    Re:

    Headline:

    "Congress Looks To Extend Safe Harbors To Service Providers Hit By Foreign Rulings"

    Key point in article:

    "it appears that Congress is currently considering a bill that would allow US companies to ignore foreign rulings in defamation cases against service providers"

    Matches to me. Reading is good.

     

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

  7.  
    icon
    iyogi (profile), Jun 17th, 2009 @ 8:49pm

    RE:

    It's not unusual for individuals to blame service providers. Thus, safe harbors are key to bringing common sense to the law.

     

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

  8.  
    icon
    Farrell McGovern (profile), Jun 17th, 2009 @ 8:53pm

    Great idea, as long as you also extend the "Safe harbour" to foreign service providers as well.

    Then again, the US government has a tradition of ignoring international treaties when it's not convenient for them...why stop now?

     

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

  9.  
    icon
    Cixelsid (profile), Jun 18th, 2009 @ 2:46am

    France and Italy

    To be fair, Italy is a country populated by pricks and France is a country populated by arrogant pricks.

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 3:25am

    Re: France and Italy

    So therefore the US is prickless?

     

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

  11.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Jun 18th, 2009 @ 11:53am

    Re:

    So this is only going to help to the extent that a US company isn't operating in the foreign jurisdiction in which prosecution is already problematical.

    In other words, any company that does its business remotely over the internet. Which is a lot.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 1:34pm

    One Ring to Rule Them All

    ...Congress is currently considering a bill that would allow US companies to ignore foreign rulings in defamation cases against service providers, where the issue is actually the action of a user.

    And how would this help US companies in foreign countries? Oh yeah, I forgot, US law applies worldwide nowadays. Take that, France!

     

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

  13.  
    icon
    technofear (profile), Jun 18th, 2009 @ 9:45pm

    These lawsuits are about damage to your reputation.


    Consider the case of Dow Jones v J Gutnik. Gutnik has a reputation in Australia but not much of one in the US.

    Seems reasonable that he would sue in Australia, where his reputation was most damaged.

    Seems unreasonable that a company can profit by destroying his reputation untruthfully, but have no liability simply because the company is registered in the US.

     

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


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