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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2009 @ 4:26pm

    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

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    freedom, Jul 2nd, 2009 @ 4:37pm

    Missing the point...

    >> There has to be responsiblity, without it there is anarchy

    There is responsiblity. On the part of the person that posted it.

    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?

    Freedom

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    ChiDave, Jul 2nd, 2009 @ 5:17pm

    Re: AC

    Or, you could just have your head completely up your ass. There. I'm responsible for saying that. I think it's true. Maybe you can have TechDirt track me down. Idiot.

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    CleverName, Jul 2nd, 2009 @ 5:52pm

    Re:

    That's pretty funny.

    Papers please! Sir, do you have your papers ?

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2009 @ 6:15pm

    Re: Re: AC

    You don't think that Techdirt doesn't track your posting IP, and all your other "essentials"? Please!

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    Felix Pleșoianu, Jul 2nd, 2009 @ 10:13pm

    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...

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    Michael L. Slonecker, Jul 2nd, 2009 @ 10:16pm

    Perhaps, and contrary to an earlier article's premise, India just might benefit from the incorporation into its copyright law of safe harbor provisions.

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2009 @ 10:34pm

    Is Flickr responsible if a member uploads kiddie porn pictures?
    Is Youtube responsible if a member uploads infringing content?
    Is Blogger responsible if a member uploads racist propaganda?

    Sometimes the questions themselves contain the answers!

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2009 @ 11:31pm

    and this is the place where we send all our jobs?

    fuck India

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Doctor Strange, Jul 3rd, 2009 @ 12:36am

    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.

     

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

  11.  
    icon
    Designerfx (profile), Jul 3rd, 2009 @ 4:48am

    welp

    platforms are presumed to have more money/easier targets.

    It's a lot easier for thousands of people to sue a big corp and have one stupid lawsuit go through, than to do the work and get a subpoena and follow the legal channels to find something that, in the worst case, might be totally legal.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    and in other news, Jul 3rd, 2009 @ 5:24am

    Re:

    Because it is your building, you need to find out who put all that spray paint on it. You need to take responsibility for what is painted on your building. Therefore, in the future, everyone will be required to show their papers before painting on the sides of buildings.

     

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

  13.  
    icon
    Rob R. (profile), Jul 3rd, 2009 @ 6:06am

    Re: Re: Re: AC

    Who gives a fuck if they track it. There is this little thing called freedom of speech in the country I'm in, so if I want to say you're a fucking moron - I can do that and there isn't a damn thing you can do about it. Fucking moron. Oh, and you're a bitch. How's that for icing on the cake?

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    Petréa Mitchell, Jul 3rd, 2009 @ 9:27am

    A wild guess

    Perhaps the problem is thinking of Blogger et al. as publishers. I mean, they are in certain senses, including many legal ones, but taking the analogy further leads to the impression that the site is making a conscious editorial decision to redistribute that particular content.

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2009 @ 9:09am

    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.

     

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


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