Patterico's Pontifications

11/14/2003

FROM THE “DUH, I IS

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:25 pm

FROM THE “DUH, I IS A LAWYR BUTT I CAN’T REED SO GUD” DEPARTMENT: Justene, the operator of Calblog, is being threatened with a lawsuit based on comments published on her blog — comments that were written by other people.

Whether such a lawsuit could succeed is not even a close question. Section 230 of the 1996 Telecom Act provides that “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” In plain English, you can’t be sued for comments made by someone else on your blog.

This language was applied by the Ninth Circuit (presumably the relevant jurisdiction for any lawsuit against Justene) in the case of Batzel v. Smith, 333 F.3d 1018 (9th Cir. 2003).

I think the more interesting question is whether Justene can countersue for malicious prosecution. I tend to think she can.

UPDATE: Jeff notes that she would first have to win the lawsuit, since successful termination of the underlying suit is an element of a malicious prosecution claim.

UPDATE x2: The Interocitor has this recent and disturbing ruling from a California state court.

UPDATE x3: Here are anagrams for Infotel Publications, the company that threatened to sue Justene.

UPDATE x4: Read what the Better Business Bureau says about this company here.

UPDATE x5: I have obtained a copy of the demand letter sent to Justene and have posted it here.

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