Keep up with the latest developments and legal issues in the telecommunications and emerging technology sectors, with exclusive access to a comprehensive collection of telecommunications law news,...
July 11 — An internet forum operator couldn't assert federal online publisher immunity against claims that one of its volunteer moderators allegedly defamed an anti-malware product on the site, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled July 8 ( Enigma Software Group USA LLC v. Bleeping Computer LLC , S.D.N.Y., No. 1:16-cv-00057, 7/8/16 ).
The plaintiff adequately pled that the moderator acted as an agent of the forum site and therefore didn't qualify as a third-party content provider, Judge Paul A. Engelmayer said.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects online publishers against liability for content produced by third parties, as long as they are performing traditional publisher functions and aren't content providers themselves.
The decision demonstrates the limits of that protection in cases where an agency relationship, even if not express, exists between the publisher and content creator.
Plaintiff Enigma Software Group USA LLC alleged that Quietman7—a moderator of Bleeping Computer LLC's online computer security forum—posted defamatory comments about Enigma's anti-malware program. The posts advised users to remove Enigma's program and replace it with products that Bleeping received commission for promoting, Enigma alleged.
Enigma brought claims against Bleeping for libel under New York law and false advertising under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a). Bleeping moved to dismiss the claims on the grounds that it couldn't be held liable for comments posted on its site by volunteer moderators (21 ECLR 522, 4/13/16).
The court rejected Bleeping's argument that Quietman7 wasn't a paid employee and therefore not acting as an agent when he posted the allegedly defamatory content. Bleeping publicly designated Quietman7 as a high-level staff member who had the authority to enforce forum rules and answer user questions, the court said.
By holding him out as a staff member who enjoyed “special powers” and who could be trusted to provide correct answers, Bleeping represented that Quietman7 was authorized to post on the company's behalf, the court said in allowing the libel and Lanham Act claims to proceed.
To contact the reporter on this story: Alexis Kramer in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at firstname.lastname@example.org
Full text at http://src.bna.com/gFF.
Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)