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November 06, 2003

Don't Sue Me Because of My Commenters

I'm assuming the following from Balkin:

What the 9th Circuit held (and what the 4th Circuit also held before them) is that section 230 of the 1996 Telecom Act protects people who run websites from being sued for republishing the libels of another person. Section 230 states that " no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."

This does not mean that bloggers are immune from libels they themselves write. It means
that they are immune from (for example) libels published in their comments section (if they have one) because these comments are written by other people and the blogger is merely providing a space for them to be published. Congress wanted to treat operators of chatrooms and other interactive computer services differently from letters to the editor columns in a local newspaper.

So if bloggers defame somebody, they can still be sued for what they say, just not for what
someone else who publishes on the blogger's site says.

Posted by mbowen at November 6, 2003 12:13 AM

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Ahh, something else positive of the Telecom Act of '96.. Thanks for pointing this stuff out - would have never known, actually...

Posted by: djspicerack at November 6, 2003 10:53 AM