Want To Encourage Gossipy Content Online? Go For It–Jones v. TheDirty (Forbes Cross-Post)

8 12 2014

In 1996, Congress enacted a crucial Internet law, 47 USC 230 (Section 230), which says that websites aren’t liable for third party content. This law, though sometimes counterintuitive, has played a huge and helpful role in the Internet’s growth by fostering user-generated content websites.

The law also means that victims of online content sometimes might not have a place to turn for legal relief. Occasionally, sympathetic judges twist or distort Section 230 to let victims sue websites for third party content.

We saw an example of this judicial activism in a case involving Sarah Jones, who was the victim of several posts on a gossip website called TheDirty.com. Jones sued TheDirty for posting third party submissions containing defamatory claims about her. TheDirty repeatedly insisted that Section 230 preempted Jones’ lawsuit against her, but the district court judge rejected the arguments each time. The case proceeded to a trial, where the jury awarded Jones $338,000.

In a rousing victory for Section 230, TheDirty and all websites publishing user-generated content, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s Section 230 denials and the jury verdict, awarding a complete victory to TheDirty. It’s frustrating that the legal system took so long to reach this obvious conclusion, but the resulting appellate opinion is a satisfying denouement, providing substantial protection for TheDirty and other user-generated content websites.

Case citation: Jones v. Dirty World Entertainment Recordings LLC, 2014 WL 2694184 (6th Cir. June 16, 2014).

UPDATE: Richie’s lawyer, David Gingras, outlined his thoughts about the ruling.


The content in this post was found at http://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2014/07/want-to-encourage-gossipy-content-online-go-for-it-jones-v-thedirty-forbes-cross-post.htm and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com. Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post.



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