Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
forums, liability, section 230



Another Good Section 230 Ruling: Forum Owner Not Liable For Posts

from the good-to-see dept

It's good to see judges getting things right -- and more often than not, they're being both quick and smart when it comes to misguided lawsuits from plaintiffs against sites that host content, but don't publish it. The latest involves the owners of a bodybuilding forum website, bodybuilding.com, who were sued by a nutritional supplement maker, claiming that competitors had posted negative reviews on the site. But the judge tossed out the lawsuit against the forum operator using section 230. The supplement maker tried to argue that the forum owners had teamed up with the competitor in a conspiracy to say bad things about the supplement, but the judge didn't buy it. The only question was whether the website owners posted the content. They didn't. There's no case.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2009 @ 7:43pm

    Sadly, the story you link to doesn't have very much detail. It would be interesting to see how the judge determined that the site owners were not the posters. Did they provide the name / ip address / other information for the poster?

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

  • identicon
    Jared, 25 Aug 2009 @ 8:07pm

    Dig a little

    There are plenty of details; the entire case is available as a .pdf
    Here are the highlights:
    Syntrax Innovations said the website (bodybuilding.com) promoted libelous statements from competing companies which could be read by the public.

    Section 230 states, basically, that no person or organization shall be held liable for content put forth by someone else.

    It was in a forum, they didn't post it, they are not responsible, case dismissed.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2009 @ 8:33pm

      Re: Dig a little

      Jared, again, the question stands: In order to prove they didn't post it, did they have to provide information about who did post it? Or can they just say "SODDI" and walk away?

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

      • identicon
        Arthran, 26 Aug 2009 @ 3:30am

        Re: Re: Dig a little

        I believe it was as simple as:
        I can prove thats not my IP/i didn't post it. Therefore its not my fault!

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2009 @ 2:44pm

          Re: Re: Re: Dig a little

          Sorry, but since IP is only stored in a simple database that can easily be modified, how is that proof?

          I mean, gee, give me a few hours with a tape from and armed robbery and the right equipment, and I can make it look like Obama did it. WOuld it be real? Nope. But it you are only going to accept that, well...

          At bare minimum, the forum should be required to provide what information they have on the OD so that they can say "this dude isn't us". Otherwise to me, SODDI in a pretty empty answer.

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

      • identicon
        ..., 26 Aug 2009 @ 5:02am

        Re: Re: Dig a little

        AC, again - who has the burden of proof

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

        • icon
          aguywhoneedstenbucks (profile), 26 Aug 2009 @ 6:14am

          Re: Re: Re: Dig a little

          Agreed. Burden of proof is on the accuser. I can say that Dark Helmet is in a massive conspiracy to slander and libel me out of business but without a bit of proof to back it up I'm just a crackpot who thinks Mr. Helmet is out to get me.

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

          • icon
            Dark Helmet (profile), 26 Aug 2009 @ 6:18am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Dig a little

            "Agreed. Burden of proof is on the accuser. I can say that Dark Helmet is in a massive conspiracy to slander and libel me out of business but without a bit of proof to back it up I'm just a crackpot who thinks Mr. Helmet is out to get me."

            Interesting that you speak of accusing me of libel in a post I hadn't yet posted in, you dog beating, grandma humping, baby eater...

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

        • identicon
          AC's long lost brother, 26 Aug 2009 @ 7:41am

          Re: Re: Re: Dig a little

          Read the ruling. Cornelius (the plaintiff) alleged that there was a conspiracy, not that bodybuilding.com actually posted the comments. also, the case got dismissed on a number of grounds including lack of jusridiction. But the part you might want to read is that the judge ruled that the plaintiff did not present any FACTUAL evidence, only a theory. The ruling also stated that the judge had to cinsider the evidence in the best light of the PLAINTIFF and even then the judge through it out.

          So to put it in simple terms since you keep asking: the suing company didn't provide enough for the judge to say "yes, this is sufficient to go to trial". the burden of proof here was VERY low for the plaintiffs. all they had to show was that there was enough to go to trial, not enough to win.

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

  • identicon
    marriebell, 1 Sep 2009 @ 2:31am

    I think that your are right,proof is very improtant for all.

    Cellulite

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


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