“Until Congress chooses to revise the settled law in this area’ people who contend they were defamed on the Internet can seek recovery only from the original source of the statement, not from those who re-post it.”
That from the California Supreme Court in holding that blog publishers can not be held liable for defamatory statements made by third parties. The Court made clear that federal law gives immunity from libel suits not only to Internet service providers, but also to bloggers and listserve & message board participants.
Got to love the Courts position on free speech and open debate. “Subjecting Internet service providers and users to defamation liability would tend to chill online speech.”
The case arose out of a listserv participant’s posting a letter by a man highly critical of the efforts of a doctor to discredit advocates of alternative health treatments. The doctor sued the woman who posted the letter for libel. Her defense was that she was immune from suit under the federal Communications Decency Act. The Court agreed.
For non-lawyers, the court’s ruling, though not addressing a blogger, clearly applies to anyone re-posting content to the Internet.
Kudos to the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation who filed briefs supporting the woman’s defense.
Source of post: Pete Williams at MSNBC
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