Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Judges Say Harlan Ellison Can Sue AOL For Usenet Postings

from the ugh dept

Nearly two years ago, I was surprised to find a legal decision I agreed with (they happen so rarely) where a judge had tossed out author Harlan Ellison's lawsuit against AOL, saying that AOL, as a service provider, was not responsible for Usenet postings that contained Ellison's stories. Note, these stories weren't even on AOL - but on Usenet, available from just about every ISP out there. Ellison, though, has decided that it's not worth understanding the technology when you can just sue and because he could see the posts on AOL, it must be AOL's fault. Thus, he has continued fighting the case, to the point where he's spent almost all of his money on the lawsuit. He insists that this is all AOL's fault because it took them two weeks to respond to his request to block the Usenet posts in question. Unfortunately, it appears that my relief at a smart judicial ruling was premature. An appeals court has overturned the ruling and sent it back to the court, saying that AOL loses their DMCA liability protection because of the amount of time it took them to respond. In other words, DMCA protection against liability (one of the very few good things in the law) is limited by your response times to complaints. Ellison, continuing to miss the point, is declaring victory, but AOL is still confident they'll win the case anyway.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2004 @ 6:44am

    No Subject Given

    Read the story a little closer. It's only a partial overturn. What the court ruled, was that AOL did not follow it's own procedure and thus is may be libel in this instance but it in no way impacts other ISPs.

    This is how companies constantly screw themselves. They write up procedures and policies for themselves and then disregard them.

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

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