Zach Lerner, 2013 Summer Intern, contributed substantially to this post.
As part of our continual effort to ensure that the Internet remains a dynamic and innovative platform for free expression, CDT joined the ACLU and other allies this week on an amicus brief in an important case on the legal liability that content platforms face for users’ speech. In a series of opinions riddled with errors, a district court judge refused to dismiss a defamation case against thedirty.com and its operator over content posted by the site’s users, putting him on the hook for a $338,000 civil penalty. The ruling, currently on appeal, misinterprets existing case law and directly contradicts Section 230 of the Communications Act. If not reversed, as we argue in our brief, countless websites that facilitate commerce and speech – including controversial yet important (and lawful) critical speech – will be threatened by substantial new legal risk.
The case, Jones v. Dirty World Entertainment, should have been dismissed long ago, but the judge repeatedly misread key Section 230 precedent, and the Appeals Court erroneously declined to hear the appeal until now. Our brief is one of a series urging the Sixth Circuit panel to reverse the lower court’s flawed reasoning.
Protecting Platforms from Lawsuits is Central to Free Expression Online
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