Another Case Says No Liability for Linking to Allegedly Defamatory Content, Plus a Recap (Guest Blog Post)

10 09 2012

Vazquez v. Buhl, 2012 WL 3641581 (Conn. Super. July 17, 2012)

In Vazquez v. Buhl, the plaintiff sued Teri Buhl, a financial reporter, for posting allegedly defamatory statements on her website. He also sued NBCUniversal for publishing an article on called “The Sex and Money Scandal Rocking Hedge Fund Land.” The article referred to Buhl as a “veteran financial reporter” who “knows her way around the Connecticut hedge fund beat” and provided a link to her webiste, adding “I don’t want to steal Buhl’s thunder, so click on her report for the big reveal.” The complaint alleged that NBCUniversal “published, distributed, endorsed and promoted Buhl’s defamatory statement by validating Buhl’s credibility.”

NBCUniversal filed a motion to strike the Complaint based on (Section 230 , and Judge David R. Tobin of the Superior Court of Connecticut granted the motion. The court focused its analysis on whether NBCUniversal was a “content provider” with respect to Buhl’s statements, citing for the proposition that a website becomes a content provider “if it contributes materially to the alleged illegality of the content.” (N.B. Another defense-side win citing The court was not convinced that NBCUniversal did anything of the kind, running through Section 230 case law holding that a defendant does not become a content provider by selecting or making minor alterations to content or by adding headings or other introductory material so long as that content is not itself defamatory (the latter relying on Shiamili v. Real Estate Group of New York, Inc., 17 N.Y.3d 281 (2011)).

In the end, the court easily concluded that merely providing a positive introduction and link did not make NBCUniversal an information content provider with respect to Buhl’s content:


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