Blogger Isn’t Liable For Anonymous Reader Comments–Mezzacappa v. O’Hare

25 06 2015

Bernie O’Hare ran a blog called “Lehigh Valley Ramblings.” I’m focusing on the court’s treatment of four anonymous comments posted in response to O’Hare’s blogging about Tricia Mezzacappa.

In general, bloggers aren’t liable for reader comments per Section 230. See generally my 2011 recap of Section 230 and message boards. The Pennsylvania law is particularly defense-favorable, including the cited D’Alonzo and Supplementmarket cases plus the Third Circuit’s DiMeo v. Max case. The court also references the New Jersey state court Donato case from 2005.

In this case, the court says the blog an interactive computer service, Mezzacapp’s claims of defamation and privacy invasion are publisher/speaker claims, and “it was apparent” that the anonymous comments came from third parties. For reasons that aren’t explained, the court doesn’t discuss the obvious possibility that some of the comments could have been anonymously posted by O’Hare himself. Mezzacappa weakly argued that O’Hare “exclusively controlled” the blog comments by deleting some comments, so O’Hare approved the remaining comments. The court swats that argument away citing Donato and DiMeo. Thus, the court dismisses all of the claims based on the anonymous comments.

Case citation: Mezzacappa v. O’Hare, C-48-CV-2014-4521 (Pa. Ct. Common Pleas March 31, 2015)

 

more

The content in this post was found at http://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2015/05/blogger-isnt-liable-for-anonymous-reader-comments-mezzacappa-v-ohare.htm and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com. Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post.



Ripoff Report Gets Easy Section 230 Win In Third Circuit–Obado v. Magedson

25 06 2015

This was a really interesting pro se challenge to Section 230. The lower court opinion contained all kinds of gems, including holding that Section 230 applies to Google’s autocomplete and to allegations of search engine manipulation.

The Third Circuit’s opinion washes out some of the case’s detail, making it a little less interesting. This partially reflects that the legal questions were so easy, the case only warranted a non-precedential opinion. The court summarizes its key ruling:

The District Court correctly determined that all of the defendants were alleged by Obado to be internet host providers who provided an interactive computer service, as defined by the CDA; that the allegedly actionable content originated from other information content providers, namely Mama Duka and Diop Kamau; and that the defendants were treated in the second amended complaint as publishers of the allegedly actionable content. When these conditions are met, the CDA’s immunity applies.

As I’ve said before, there should be only one and only one defendant for problematic online content–the content originator. Everyone else should get Section 230 immunity.

The court then quickly dismissed Obado’s other arguments:

* “Obado’s allegation that the defendants manipulated search engines to maximize search results relating to the alleged defamatory content does not affect their immunity from suit.”

more

Case citation: Obado v. Magedson, No. 14-3584 (3d Cir. May 11, 2015).

The content in this post was found at http://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2015/05/ripoff-report-gets-easy-section-230-win-in-third-circuit-obado-v-magedson.htm and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com. Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post.



Catching Up on Section 230 Cases From the Past 18 Months

25 06 2015
I try to blog every Section 230 case I see. However, over the past year and a half, I’ve collected a few Section 230 cases that I had hoped to blog but that fell through the cracks for one reason or another. So here’s a “quick” survey of some of the Section 230 cases that I’ve backlogged:

Obado v. Magedson, 2014 WL 3778261 (D. N.J. July 31, 2014). The Complaint. (citations omitted)

Joude v. WordPress Foundation, 2014 WL 3107441 (N.D. Cal. July 3, 2014) (citations omitted).

Ohio State University v. Skreened Ltd., 2014 WL 1576882 (S.D. Ohio April 18, 2014). The Complaint.

 

Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe, 2014 WL 1031336 (N.D. Indiana March 17, 2014).

 

Moving and Storage, Inc. v. Panayotov, 2014 WL 949830 (D. Mass. March 12, 2014).

 

Sherman v. Yahoo Inc., 997 F. Supp. 2d 1129 (S.D. Cal. Feb. 3, 2014).

 

Choyce v. SF Bay Area Independent Media Center, 2013 WL 6234628 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 2, 2013). [citations omitted]

Evans v. Hewlett-Packard Company, 2013 WL 5594717 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 10, 2013). Related blog post.

 

Russell v. Implode-Explode Heavy Industries Inc., 2013 WL 5276557 (D. Md. Sept. 18, 2013). (citations omitted)

Stevo Design, Inc. v. SBR Marketing Ltd., 2013 WL 4648581 (D. Nev. August 29, 2013).

more

The content in this post was found at http://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2015/02/catching-up-on-section-230-cases-from-the-past-18-months.htm and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com. Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post.



Online Magazine Gets Section 230 Protection For Third Party Article–AdvanFort v. International Registries

24 06 2015
If I didn’t practice Internet law, I might have chosen maritime law. Their disputes are often interesting. This particular case sounds like a movie plotline. AdvanFort provides armed guards to ships worried about piracy (the real kind…you know, on the ocean). The Indian government accused the crew of one of these ships of violating their Arms Act (i.e., arms running), so it threw the crew in jail. To help get the crew released, AdvanFort retained John A.C. Cartner as one of its lawyers. AdvanFort and Cartner then had a falling out over a fee dispute, which led to an arbitration and a pending bar complaint against Cartner. Cartner subsequently published an online article critical of his former client’s principals at The Maritime Executive website. (The article is down there, but here’s a copy of it). AdvanFort’s principals claim that Cartner’s article defamed them.

In this ruling, some of AdvanFort’s defamation claims against Cartner survive a motion to dismiss. Does this mean The Maritime Executive is also liable for publishing Cartner’s allegedly defamatory article? Ahoy, Section 230!

Case citation: AdvanFort Co. v. International Registries, Inc., 2015 WL 2238076 (E.D. Va. May 12, 2015)

more

The content in this post was found at http://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2015/05/online-magazine-gets-section-230-protection-for-third-party-article-advanfort-v-international-registries.htm and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com. Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post.



Comcast ordered to unmask anonymous online newspaper commenter

22 06 2015

The person who commented online on a local newspaper’s site that a political candidate was a child sexual predator cannot remain anonymous, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The attorney for the anonymous commenter on a Freeport (Ill.) Journal Standard article said he was mulling an appeal to the US Supreme Court. But it would be a tough sell. Most of the nation’s state courts have ruled that when it comes to defamation, online anonymity is out the door. (Comcast had refused to release the IP address account information, demanding a court order. Litigation ensued.)

more

The content in this post was found at http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/06/comcast-ordered-to-unmask-anonymous-online-newspaper-commenter/ and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com. Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post.



Google to remove revenge porn search results

22 06 2015

Google announced Friday that it would remove search results pointing to revenge porn, a switch of sorts for the search giant that generally is loath to remove search results.

more

The content in this post was found at http://feeds.arstechnica.com/arstechnica/BAaf and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com. Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post.



Convicted operator of “revenge porn” site sentenced to 18 years

6 04 2015

Kevin Bollaert, the 28-year-old convicted of operating the “revenge porn” website UGotPosted.com, was sentenced on Friday to 18 years behind bars.

Bollaert, of San Diego, was also convicted in February on several counts of identity theft and extortion. His website allowed people to submit nude photos of their ex-partners—mainly women—accompanied by the victim’s name, age, and a Facebook profile link.

The photos were uploaded without the consent of the victims, and those who wanted their photos and information removed from the site were charged up to $350. Bollaert apparently made thousands of dollars from the website. Many of the victims received harassing messages online as a result of their photos and personal information being posted on the site.

More

The content in this post was found at http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/04/convicted-operator-of-revenge-porn-site-sentenced-to-18-years/ and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com. Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post.



No Personal Jurisdiction Over Nasty Facebook Post–Burdick v. Superior Court

17 01 2015

I think this week’s ruling in Burdick v. Superior Court could be a pretty big deal. First, the ruling governs the growing number of cases where social media users get ranty. Second, the case holding is exceptionally clear; and it does a good job summarizing and distilling a fairly large body of murky precedent. Third, California appellate panels rarely publish their ruling, so a published opinion like this one will get many future citations. With all of these plus factors, I’m taking one for the team and blogging an Internet jurisdiction case anyway.

The dispute involved a skin care product called NeriumAD. Some folks bashed NeriumAD online, so Nerium folks bashed the bashers. A person associated with Nerium, Burdick, made the following Facebook post about the initial bashers:

 

Case citation: Burdick v. Superior Court, 2015 WL 182297 (Cal. App. Ct. Jan. 14, 2015)

more

The content in this post was found at http://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2015/01/no-personal-jurisdiction-over-nasty-facebook-post-burdick-v-superior-court.htm and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com. Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post.



Another Failed Doctor Lawsuit Against a Patient For Online Reviews–Brandner v. Molonguet

10 01 2015

 

This is another lawsuit by a doctor over a patient’s negative online reviews. Dr. Brandner is an oral surgeon in Louisiana. In 2005, he treated Molonguet. Molonguet protested Brandner’s fees, but a court ruled for Brandner. In response to that court loss, Molonguet allegedly began an aggressive harassment campaign against Brandner as well as a patient who wrote a positive review of Brandner. For purposes of Molonguet’s motion to dismiss, the court assumed the following allegations were true: “Molonguet posted on the internet false statements about Dr. Brandner’s treatment of him…Molonguet posted the false statements with the sole intent of harming Dr. Brandner; and as a result of Molonguet’s actions, Dr. Brandner’s reputation has been harmed.”

more

The content in this post was found at http://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2015/01/another-failed-doctor-lawsuit-against-a-patient-for-online-reviews-brandner-v-molonguet.html and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com. Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post.



Appeals court throws out $340,000 online libel ruling

15 12 2014
On Monday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed (PDF) an online libel case and annulled the award of hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. The court found that the site was protected under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which bars website liability from material created by its users.

The case, known as Sarah Jones v. Dirty World Entertainment Recordings LLC et al., concerns a website known as TheDirty.com. That site allows users to upload anonymous comments, photos, and videos that are almost always of a gossip-minded and salacious nature.

more

The content in this post was found at http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/06/appeals-court-throws-out-340000-online-libel-ruling/f and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com. Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post.