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Free Expression

CDT Joins EFF, Library Associations, Startup Community in Third Circuit Amicus Brief on Section 230 Exemptions

The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) joined an amicus brief filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and a coalition of public interest groups, library associations, small tech companies, and representatives of the start-up community in Hepp v. Facebook. At issue in the case is whether Section 230 gives interactive computer service providers immunity from state right of publicity claims. The Third Circuit held that it does not, because state right of publicity claims are a type of intellectual property claim, which are exempt from Section 230’s liability shield.

The amicus brief urges the full Third Circuit to hear the case en banc and hold that state right of publicity claims are not intellectual property claims, and are therefore barred by Section 230. It argues that only claims under federal copyright and patent law are “intellectual property claims” that are exempt from Section 230’s immunity shield. The amicus brief also argues that the decision by the panel of the Third Circuit will undermine online free expression and competition by subjecting providers to potential liability for user-generated content that could violate right of publicity laws, which can vary from state-to-state.

Read the motion & the full brief.