Why Is It So Difficult To Understand The Difference Between A Platform And A User?

from the head-scratcher dept

In the US, thanks to safe harbor rules in the DMCA and the CDA, courts will often toss out misdirected lawsuits that go after a service provider for the actions of a user. To be honest, I’ve always questioned why we need such safe harbors in the first place, since it should just be basic common sense that a service provider shouldn’t be liable for the actions of a user. But, of course, common sense just isn’t that common. This can be seen, first, in all the lawsuits that require incantations of the safe harbors to get them tossed out, but even worse, in foreign countries that have no such safe harbor laws. Take for example, a case in India, where Google India is being blamed for content written by bloggers on Blogger. First, Blogger is run by Google, not Google India, so the lawsuit is doubly misdirected — but, more importantly, Google itself cannot be responsible for what someone writes using its tool. That’s like suggesting that Bic is responsible for what you write with its pens. The case involves a guy who was upset about what some bloggers wrote about him — so of course, he had to sue Google. What’s amazing is that the judge seems to have initially bought this as reasonable. It barred Google from hosting any blog that “defamed” this guy. Google has responded by trying to explain the basics of the internet to the judge and how it’s impossible for Google to figure out if someone is defaming someone else using its software.

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Companies: google

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Comments on “Why Is It So Difficult To Understand The Difference Between A Platform And A User?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

At some point, “PLATFORMS” are going to end up facing issues because the promote anonymous posting. Nobody has really broken that one down yet, but one day.

My theory is “It’s your domain, you are responsible for what is on it, unless you can show who actually did it.”

There has to be responsiblity, without it there is anarchy

Felix Pleșoianu (user link) says:

Well, duh! Of course they sue the platform owner. First, because the users are very difficult to identify, and second because they don’t have as much money for the suers to extort. It’s not lack of common sense, but lawsuits-as-business-model. Which should be punishable by law, but what do we know. All we have is this minor superpower called common sense…

Doctor Strange says:

I supposed that Bic should go ahead and serialize all their pens and license them so we can track back anyone that uses one improperly?

Clearly not. I mean, that would be like asking everyone to affix two metal plates to the front and back of their automobiles with unique highly-visible serial numbers on them so you could track them down if they drove off after a hit and run or a bank robbery. Society would surely not stand for it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: A wild guess

Ding! Winner!

The problem of sites like Youtube, Blogger, and such is that they don’t just offer “hosting” in the traditional sense, but they also redistribute the content in various ways.

If Youtube only allowed users to link to their video and displayed that video in a blank page (or a page designed by the user and upload by the user) then they would be only a host. When they start to aggregate the content, sorting it, providing html pages, related links, advertsing, and the like, they cross the line from host to publisher (IMHO). This is one of the grey areas of copyright law, something that I think needs to be more clearly addressed.

Hosts / ISPs should have nothing to do with content, they should provide only supporting services and not profit directly from formating and redisplaying content. That isn’t hosting.

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