Posting Someone Else's Defamatory Article Isn't Defamation In California

from the good-decision dept

We've pointed out in the past why section 230 of the Communications Decency Act makes a lot of sense, even as lawsuits keep trying to limit the scope. The idea is that you can't sue someone for defamation just because they're the easy target if they weren't the ones who actually said the defaming content. The law clearly protects service providers who simply host a platform -- but what about cases that involve more proactive participation? Back in 2003, a US court of appeals held that forwarding on an email that someone else wrote was still protected -- even though the person doing the forwarding chose what emails to forward. The fact that the forwarder did not write the original email protected him, according to the court. The Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal in the case, so the law isn't totally settled (though, the ruling will guide others in the same district where the case was last heard).

It appears that there was a similar case in the state courts in California, involving two doctors suing a woman who posted articles in various forums that the doctors felt were defamatory. The problem was that while the woman did post the articles to the forums, she was not the original author of the articles -- and thus claimed that she should be immune from defamation charges. A local court found in the woman's favor, saying that not only were the doctors public figures, but that section 230 protected the woman from being sued over comments she didn't make. A California appeals court disagreed and overturned that decision. However, the California Supreme Court has weighed in and reversed the ruling again, saying that the woman should not be liable since she did not write the offending content. The ruling noted that section 230 isn't just to protect service providers, but also users of the services. It's a good decision that, once again, highlights that you can't just sue the easiest target for defamation if they weren't the ones actually responsible for the statements.
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  1. identicon
    rstr5105, 20 Nov 2006 @ 8:55pm

    sorry,

    I don't really have anything to contribute to this one, it seems it's all been said, but I do feel that somebody needs to tell Dorpus (again!), "Engage Brain before Opening mouth. Failing that, upon opening mouth promptly insert foot."

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