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Author Topic: A test post by slm with a picture  (Read 17598 times)
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« on: November 27, 2012, 09:14:16 PM »

Operators =of blogs are generally immune from liability for defamatory statements =posted on their websites, as long as they did not contribute to the =posting. In 2003, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a =listserv moderator and operator of a website which allegedly published =defamatory statements provided by a third party was eligible for =immunity under the Communications Decency Act (CDA). Batzel v. Smith, =2003 US App.LEXIS 12736 (9th Cir. 2003). However, if the online service =provider plays an active role in soliciting information from users that =leads to the defamatory act, the operator may not be protected by the =safe harbor provisions of the CDA. In Carafano v. Metrosplash.com, Inc., =a federal court ruled on the application of the safe harbor of the =Communications Decency Act (CDA). The defendant in that case operated a =matchmaking website known matchmaker.com. As part of its service, the =defendant collected profiles of singles based on an extensive =questionnaire. The plaintiff sued Metrosplash because of a false profile =of her which an unknown user had posted to the website. The court ruled =that by creating the extensive questionnaire, Metrosplash played an =active role in developing the information that had been posted. =Furthermore, the court ruled that Metrosplash was an information content =provider and thus not eligible for the CDA’s safe harbor provided =to “interactive computer services.” Carafano v. =Metrosplash.com, Inc., Case No. CV 01-0018 DT (CWx) C.D. Cal. 2002) =(subsequently reversed by appeals court). While operators of blogs and =services are generally immune from such liability, the more active the =service is with its member’s, the greater the likelihood of =potential liability as a publisher of defamatory =materials.

 

Another potential source of liability is the person =who actually posted the defamatory materials. As with more general =defamatory statements or materials, a poster can be held personally =liable for anything posted which reflects falsely and negatively on a =living person’s reputation. Posting false and explicit claims =regarding a person will generally be held as defamatory for purposes of =liability. However, other issues arise concerning the anonymity of the =person posting the information, and if known, the jurisdiction in which =they are subject.

 

Jurisdictional issues may arise in situations where =the poster had no reason to expect that the effect of the posting would =be felt in a certain jurisdiction. However, in defamation cases =jurisdictional disputes are liberally ruled upon in favor of the victim. =In Griffis v. Luban, the Minnesota court of appeals ruled that Alabama =had jurisdiction over a Minnesota defendant who posted defamatory =messages on the Internet. The defendant repeatedly posted messages on an =Internet newsgroup attacking the plaintiff’s professional =credentials. The plaintiff initially obtained a $25,000.00 default =judgment in Alabama, which she was seeking to enforce in Minnesota. The =Minnesota court ruled that the Alabama court had properly exercised =jurisdiction because the effects of the messages were felt in Alabama =and that the defendant should have expected that she would be sued =there. An important factor in the ruling was that she had actual =knowledge of the effect of the defamatory statements on the Defendant. =Therefore, the Minnesota court enforced the $25,000.00 default judgment. =Griffis v. Luban, 633 N.W. 2d 548 (Minn Ct. App. 2001).

 

However, =there are cases where courts have refused to allow the exercise of =personal jurisdiction based on defamatory statements. In a Pennsylvania =case, the court refused to exercise jurisdiction over a New York =defendant who had posted defamatory comments about a defendant on an =offshore betting website. The court held that since the comments were =not specifically directed at Pennsylvania, the court could not exercise =personal jurisdiction over the defendant. English Sports Betting, Inc. =v. Tostigan, C.A. No. 01-2202 (E.D. Pa. 2002).

 

The problems =with bringing defamatory actions based on internet postings largely lie =in proving that the defendant actually made the posting. If that =connection can be made, a much stronger case can be presented and =jurisdictional issues can be tackled. An attorney who is experienced in =cyberlaw and internet cases can improve your chances in prevailing in =any such case. Without the help of an attorney who can find and connect =the evidence, most internet defamation cases will fail for lack of =evidentiary sources and experience.


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