|Photo by Ed Schipul, Flickr (cc)|
Jones v. Dirty World Entertainment Recordings, LLC (Eastern District Kentucky Aug. 2013) is the latest case to explore the frontier, and this litigation has been explored through two trials. From the first trial, we are informed that:
Defendant Dirty World, LLC operates, from its principal place of business in Arizona, an Internet web site known as "the dirty.com." This web site invites and publishes comments by individuals who visit the site, and defendant Hooman Karamian, a/k/a Nik Richie ("Richie"), responds to those posts and publishes his own comments on the subjects under discussion.
Plaintiff Sarah Jones is a citizen of Kentucky; a resident of Northern Kentucky; a teacher at Dixie Heights High School in Edgewood Kentucky; and a member of the Cincinnati BenGals, the cheerleading squad for the Cincinnati Bengals professional football team.The conflicted ensued over comments posted to Defendant's website about plaintiff.
[T]he evidence conclusively demonstrates that these postings and others like them were invited and encouraged by the defendants by using the name "Dirty.com" for the website and inciting the viewers of the site to form a loose organization dubbed "the Dirty Army," which was urged to have "a war mentality" against anyone who dared to object to having their character assassinated.
Specifically, defendant Richie added his own comments to the defamatory posts concerning plaintiff. For example, on December 7, 2009, a third-party posted, under a large photo of plaintiff:For the court, defendant's website has crossed into the frontier and is a participant in the content creation. Not only is defendant driving third-parties to make scandalous comments, defendant, by adding comments "effectively ratified and adopted the defamatory third-party post." According to the court, defendant continued to drive third parties by commenting: "I love how the DIRTY ARMY has war mentality;" "Never try to battle the DIRTY ARMY;" and "You dug your own grave here Sarah." The court concludes, defendant "played a significant role in 'developing' the offensive content such that he has no immunity under the CDA."
Nik, here we have Sarah J, captain cheerleader of the playoff bound cinci bengals . . Most ppl see Sarah as a gorgeous cheerleader AND highschool teacher . . yes she's also a teacher . . but what most of you don't know is . . Her ex Nate . . cheated on her with over 50 girls in 4 yrs . . in that time he tested positive for Chlamydia Infection and Gonorrhea . . so im sure Sarah also has both . . whats worse is he brags about doing sarah in the gym . . football field . . her class room at the school she teaches at DIXIE Heights.To this, Richie added his own tagline, in bold: "Why are all high school teachers freaks in the sack? — nik." The tagline and original message appear on one page as a single story.
There is a boundary between neutral host and content creator. When an interactive service traverses that boundary, the host potentially moves out from underneath the protection of Sec. 230 immunity.