US Court Limits Defamation Scope In Internet Case

from the the-messenger-is-safe dept

A US Court of Appeals has ruled that someone just passing on an email cannot be charged with libel. The case involved an email that someone sent accusing a woman of owning stolen artwork. It was originally sent to a museum security official, who resent the email to many others in the museum security world. The court ruled that the guy who passed on the email was not liable - citing US law saying that service providers shouldn't be considered liable for content on their systems. In other words, they consider the person just passing on the email as the service provider - and not the content provider. Part of the issue seems to stem from the question of what the original author of the email intended for it. He claims he just sent it to the one guy - but that guy believed it was intended to be distributed to a wider list of museum security officials. This certainly seems like a tricky legal situation - because the person who was really responsible for spreading the false information is off the hook. However, since they had no idea the information was false, it's tough to see why they should be responsible for any of the damage.
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