When Will People Learn: Websites Are Not Liable For What People Write In The Comments

from the so-many-wasted-lawsuits dept

It still amazes me when lawsuits actually get filed against sites for things that people write in the comments. Section 230 case law is really well established on this, and you would think lawyers would know better. But, such lawsuits still get filed, and they get dismissed just as quickly. In this particular case, a TV news anchor who was arrested during a drug bust (though, later, not indicted) got upset about her (former) employer writing an article about her arrest, where some people wrote things she didn’t like in the comments. So, she sued her former employer for “allowing unfiltered online comments which contained false information.” Of course, allowing unfiltered comments is not, by itself, illegal, and the court made that clear:

Miles does not allege that the defendants wrote or revised the false comments. In fact, she alleges that the comments were not filtered by the defendants. Furthermore, she complains that the defendants merely allowed the comments, and there is no indication or allegation that the defendants encouraged defamatory comments on their website. As a result, the Court finds that the defendants are immune from liability for the allegedly defamatory third-party comments published on its website pursuant to the Communications Decency Act.

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Comments on “When Will People Learn: Websites Are Not Liable For What People Write In The Comments”

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Pete Austin says:

Unlucky with her Boy Friend?

“A grand jury did not indict the 32-year-old Miles but has indicted the three men arrested with her at a Gulfport businessman’s home on Oct. 28 … Miles and Blacklidge had been dating, according to her previous attorney … Gulfport police said they seized cocaine from Blacklidge’s bedroom”



Anonymous Coward says:

Everybody is trying to game everyone nowadays.

I think they are scammers trying to get money from dumb people.

Just like scamers are taking money from the french using HADOPI LoL

And now more people are trying to make money but this time from the people who made money.


Anonymous Coward says:

Without the complaint in hand and the judge’s ruling it is not possible to determine if the above represented a dismissal of the lawsuit in toto.

For sake of simplicity, when a complaint is filed a defendant is able to challenge its sufficiency before it has to address the various matters contained in the complaint with filing an answer to the complaint.

Invariably, complaints allege multiple supposed “wrongs”, known as “causes of action”, and in federal court alleged defendants are entitled by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to initially challenge the stated causes of action on any number of grounds, not the least of which is Rule 12b(6). This rule provides that assuming what is stated in a complaint is true as to one or more causes of action, the sufficiency of how such causes of action are pled in the complaint are deemed deficient for failing to properly plead a cause of action for which the court can grant the requested relief.

As I read the above article it seems likely that the plaintiff’s attorney may have not plead the this particular cause of action using the “magic words” needed to overcome the defendant’s interposition of a Rule 12b(6) motion. In situations such as this a plaintiff is almost always granted leave to amend the complaint to cure any defects in pleading the particular cause of action.

It is also important to realize that most lawsuits allege multiple causes of action, so a court’s initial ruling on one of them does not necessarily mean that the others were dismissed as well.

I guess the most that can be said is that one of the causes of action relates to 230, was not plead properly, and the plaintiff is now put to the task of amending that one cause of action to overcome the basis upon which it was originally dismissed.

abc gum says:

Re: Re:

“Without the complaint in hand and the judge’s ruling it is not possible to determine if the above represented a dismissal of the lawsuit in toto.”

Let us know your assessment of said document. I’m positive that all speculation will cease until such time that you are able to provide us with a verdict. As always, there must be more to this story and we shouldn’t jump to conclusions before knowing all the facts. /s

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Jumping to conclusions without knowing all relevant facts in not a habit that I wish to develop. Apparently you do not share my sentiment, which probably sets you up in good stead for never having to serve on a jury.

As best I can determine the plaintiff filed a complaint alleging five causes of action, and at this juncture the judge has dismissed three of the five, two for what appear to be pleading errors that may or may not be correctable (either in this lawsuit or in a separately filed lawsuit), and one because of a bar under state Workmen’s Compensation law.

Christopher E. Grell says:

When Will People Learn: Websites Are Not Liable For What People Write In The Comments

Unfortunately, the protections afforded Internet users who repost or republish libelous statements that were written by another, is not an old established law. In fact, the issue has not yet been addressed by the US Supreme Court. Until this happens, there are always going to be people who can not believe that there is a federal law which allows some to repost false and harmful information, written by someone else, spread it all over the Internet, and not have any liability.
I suspect that people are also confused by the fact that this is not the way it works for false and libelous articles reposted or reprinted in magazines, newspapers etc.
Hopefully, the US Supreme Court will rule on this issue so that the law is clear once and for all. Once the law is clear and people realize how ridiculous it is to have a law called the “Communiccation Decency Act” which allows this kind of conduct to take place. In fact, the immunity afforded under CDC 230 is not only being used to protect people who repost libelous statements, it is potecting Internet users who allow others to post discriminatory housing and employment ads. It also protects websites that allow its user to place ads that word be illegal anywhere else. Maybe one of these days people will learn that this law, no matter how unfair it is to the people it hurts, is what it is.

abc gum says:

Re: When Will People Learn: Websites Are Not Liable For What People Write In The Comments

IANAL, but the following is correct AFAIK
1) It is not libel if it is true.
2) It is not libel to quote the speech of others.

Section 230 seems to be the easy target for those too lazy to go after the real perpetrator of what ails them. Holding people responsible for the actions of others is not a very good idea.

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