Friday, November 16, 2007

Caselaw Construing 47 USC 230 Immunity is Surprisingly Scant

At least according to one Arizona Superior Court: Children of America v. Magedson, CV 2007-003720 (AR Superior Court Oct. 31, 2007).

The court's order itself is "surprisingly scant," thus we know little of the facts surrounding this case. What we do know is that once again it involves Ripoffreport.com. Jinkees! The Sec. 230 caselaw for this one defendant is surprisingly robust. Ripoffreport.com must have some well paid attorney on retainer that does little more than mash the print button for the proforma Sec. 230 Motion to Dismiss form... merely taking a bit of time to scrawl in the name of the latest plaintiff.

Of course, if the court's law clerks are too busy researching water rights cases, we are glad to refer them to our "surprisingly scant" list of Sec. 230 cases.

Anyway, we here at Cybertelecom are likewise into automation and have developed our proforma blog post for these Ripoffreport.com cases. Here it is:
Some plaintiff [FILL IN BLANK] got irked by what some disgruntled third party wrote about them at Ripoffreport.com. Ripoffreport.com "is a worldwide consumer reporting Web site and publication, by consumers, for consumers, to file and document complaints about companies or individuals." Ripoffreport.com did not write the disgruntled comment. Ripoffreport.com filed a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss pursuant to 47 USC § 230. The Court granted the motion and dismissed the complaint as against defendant Ripoffreport.com.
Of course it never goes proforma, does it.

Plaintiff apparently alleged that Ripoffreport.com either edited or authored the headline of the disgruntled comment - and that headline could be actionable. The court has to take the facts as alleged by plaintiff as true for a motion to dismiss (the court is merely deciding whether there is a potential claim for which relief can be granted -- it is not deciding the merits of the case as to whether in fact relief should be granted - it's like if I sued you in court for being short - while this may be true, it is not a cause of action for which relief can be granted). Therefore the court dismisses the complaint against Ripoffreport for the disgruntled third party comment, but denies the motion to dismiss with regard to the headline. But the Court made clear, if plaintiff cant prove that Ripoffreport authored the disgruntled headline, then plaintiff will face pretty much the same outcome as the rest of the complaint.

So what's cool about all this. I go looking at Ripoffreport.com for a bit of deep research in preparation for this post, and I find a page entitled Want to Sue Ripoff Report? The page states:
If you are considering suing Ripoff Report because of a report which you claim is defamatory, you should be aware that to date, Ripoff Report has never lost such a case. This is because of a federal law called the Communications Decency Act or "CDA", 47 U.S.C. § 230. Because this important law is not well known, we want to take a moment to explain the law, and to also explain that the filing of frivolous lawsuits can have serious consequences for those who file them, both parties and their attorneys. The CDA is part of our federal laws.An excellent Wikipedia article discussing the history of the law can be found here. In short, the CDA provides that when a user writes and posts material on a website such as Ripoff Report, the site itself cannot, in most cases, be held legally responsible for the posted material.
Do the plaintiff's in these cases get to file RipoffReport.com disgruntled comments about their attorneys who advised them to file these pointless complaints?
Post a Comment