Back in 2008, we wrote about a lawsuit between rival sandwich shop chains Subway and Quiznos over a viral ad campaign
. Quiznos had set up a contest to get fans to create and upload commercials for its stores, and Subway claimed that many of the ads made false claims about Subway. To Subway, this made Quiznos guilty of false advertising. Quiznos used Section 230 to claim that it wasn't responsible for the content of the ads, since it hadn't actually created them. However, with Subway saying that Quiznos was actively involved in some aspects of the ad creation, the judge wouldn't grant a summary judgment on Section 230, and wanted the case brought to a jury to consider. Not surprisingly, at this point, Quiznos folded faster than one of its toasted sandwiches
, and the two sides settled the case.
While you can understand why this happened, it still leaves us without a ruling -- meaning that there will likely be more lawsuits of this nature coming down the road. With so many "user-generated content" contests out there, the question of liability for the content could become a pretty big issue... and I'd guess that most companies trying out these contests haven't given it much thought at all.