Federal Internet Law & Policy
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Good Samaritan Reference 47 USC § 230

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  • Dot Kids Legislative History
  • In 2002, Congress enacted the Dot Kids Implementation and Efficiency Act. A House committee report notes that the purpose of this legislation was "to facilitate the creation of a new, second-level Internet domain within the United States country code domain that will be a haven for material that promotes positive experiences for children and families using the Internet." (H.R. Rep. 107-449 (2002) p. 5) The legislation includes a provision that the new registry it created, and related entities, "are deemed to be interactive computer services for purposes of section 230(c) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 230(c))." (47 U.S.C. § 941(e)(1).) The committee report explains that this provision was "intended to shield the '' registry, registrars, and parties who contract with the registry, from liability based on self-policing efforts to intercept and take down material that is not 'suitable for minors' or is 'harmful to minors.' The Committee notes that ISPs [Internet service providers] have successfully defended many lawsuits using section 230(c). The courts have correctly interpreted section 230(c), which was aimed at protecting against liability for such claims as negligence[.] (See, e.g., Doe v. America Online, 783 So.2d 1010 (Fla. 2001)) and defamation (Ben Ezra, Weinstein, and Co. v. America Online, 206 F.3d 980 (2000); Zeran v. America Online, 129 F.3d 327 (1997)). The Committee intends these interpretations of section 230(c) to be equally applicable to those entities covered by H.R. 3833."17 (H.R. Rep. 107-449, p. 13.) [Barrett Slip at 9]
  • Congressional Record

    141 Cong. Rec. H8469- H8470 (daily ed. Aug. 4, 1995):

    "I will give you two quick examples: A Federal court in New York, in a case involving CompuServe, one of our on-line service providers, held that CompuServe would not be liable in a defamation case because it was not the publisher or editor of the material. It just let everything come onto your computer without, in any way, trying to screen it or control it.

    "But another New York court, the New York Supreme Court, held that Prodigy, CompuServe's competitor, could be held liable in a $200 million defamation case because someone had posted on one of their bulletin boards, a financial bulletin board, some remarks that apparently were untrue about an investment bank, that the investment bank would go out of business and was run by crooks.

    "Prodigy said, 'No, no; just like CompuServe, we did not control or edit that information, nor could we, frankly. We have over 60,000 of these messages each day, we have over 2 million subscribers, and so you cannot proceed with this kind of a case against us.'

    "The court said, 'No, no, no, no, you are different; you are different than CompuServe because you are a family-friendly network. You advertise yourself as such. You employ screening and blocking software that keeps obscenity off of your network. You have people who are hired to exercise an emergency delete function to keep that kind of material away from your subscribers. You don't permit nudity on your system. You have content guidelines. You, therefore, are going to face higher, stric[t]er liability because you tried to exercise some control over offensive material.'

    "Mr. Chairman, that is backward. We want to encourage people like Prodigy, like CompuServe, like America Online, like the new Microsoft network, to do everything possible for us, the customer, to help us control, at the portals of our computer, at the front door of our house, what comes in and what our children see. This technology is very quickly becoming available, and in fact every one of us will be able to tailor what we see to our own tastes. . . .

    "Mr. Chairman, our amendment will do two basic things: First, it will protect computer Good Samaritans, online service providers, anyone who provides a front end to the Internet, let us say, who takes steps to screen indecency and offensive material for their customers. It will protect them from taking on liability such as occurred in the Prodigy case in New York that they should not face for helping us and for helping us solve this problem. Second, it will establish as the policy of the United States that we do not wish to have content regulation by the Federal Government of what is on the Internet . . . ."


  • Doe v. MySpace Inc.PDF, 2008 WL 2068064 (5th Cir. May 10, 2008) (defendant not liable for failure to to institute adequate safety measures to prevent sexual predators)
  • Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v., LLC, CV-03-09386-PA, 521 F.3d 1157 (9th Cir April 2008) (Sec. 230 Immunity not affording housing website where third parties uploaded content potentially in violation of fair housing laws), 9th Cir 4/18/2008 [~3454]
  • Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v., LLC , CV-03-09386-PA (9th Cir. May 15, 2007)
  • CDT Joins Brief Urging Liability Protection for Internet Content Venues, CDT 11/9/2007
  • Motions over Batzel Briefing, Tech & Marketing Law 11/1/2007
  • Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v, 9th Circiot 10/18/2007
  • En Banc Rehearing GRANTED!, Tech & Marketing Law 10/18/2007
  • Circuit Court Ditches Ruling Opening Up To Blame For Ads Posted By Users, Techdirt 10/18/2007
  • Amicus Brief, Technology & Marketing Law Blog 7/22/2007
  • Dangerous Ruling Puts Interactive Web Services at Risk, EFF 7/18/2007
  • Fair Housing Council's response to's request for an en banc rehearing
  •'s En Banc Request
  • Ninth Circuit Screws Up 47 USC 230--Fair Housing Council v., Tech & Marketing Law 5/18/2007
  • Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc. v. craigslist, Inc., No. 07-1101 (7th Cir. Mar. 14, 2008) ("the Seventh Circuit held the online classified website craigslist immune from liability for discriminatory housing advertisements submitted by users. Craigslist’s service works very much like the “Additional Comments” section of Roommate’s website, in that users are given an open text prompt in which to enter any description of the rental property without any structure imposed on their content or any requirement to enter discriminatory information: Nothing in the service craigslist offers induces anyone to post any particular listing or express a preference for discrimination . . . .” Slip op. at 9.", p. 3470, n. 33, 9th Cir. 2008.)
  • DiMeo v. Max , 2007 WL 2717865 (3rd Cir. 2007)
  • Finding defendant not liable for comments left by third parties on a blog - Slip 4: "Max's website [Blog] is an interactive computer service because it enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server. See 47 U.S.C. § 230(f)(2) . . . DiMeo's complaint alleges that Max is a publisher of the comments on the website. However, DiMeo does not allege that Max authored the comments on the website or that he is an information content provider. See 47 U.S.C. § 230 (f)(3) . . . As such, the website posts alleged in the complaint must constitute information furnished by third party information content providers."
  • Third Circuit affirms Dimeo v. Max - Section 230 immunity applies to forum board operator, Internet Cases 11/13/2007
  • DiMeo v. Max Affirmed by Third Circuit, Tech and Marketing Law Blog (Sept 24, 2007) ("The only "remarkable" aspect is that the Third Circuit--fortunately--doesn't cite to the opinion at all.")
  • Court upholds dismissal of suit over Web site postings Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (Sept 28, 20007)
  • Universal Communication Systems, Inc. v. Lycos, Inc. , 2007 WL 549111 (1st Cir. Feb. 23, 2007) Lycos Not Liable for Objectionable Message Board Posting
  • "In Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), 47 U.S.C. § 230, Congress has granted broad immunity to entities, such as Lycos, that facilitate the speech of others on the Internet. Whatever the limits of that immunity, it is clear that Lycos's activities in this case fall squarely within those that Congress intended to immunize. UCS attempted to plead around this Section 230 statutory immunity by asserting that Lycos did not qualify for immunity and that UCS's claims fell within certain exceptions to that immunity. The district court rejected these arguments and dismissed the claims against Lycos and Terra Networks for failure to state a claim. We agree and affirm the dismissals, joining the other courts that have uniformly given effect to Section 230 in similar circumstances."
  • Perfect 10 v. CCBill (9th Cir Mar. 29, 2007) "In CCBill, plaintiff Perfect 10, Inc., a magazine publisher, sued defendant CCBill, Inc., an online credit card processing company. CCBill, 488 F.3d at 1108. Claiming that CCBill improperly used Perfect 10's copyrighted photos, Perfect 10 brought several state intellectual property claims against CCBill, including an alleged violation of publicity rights of the models in those photos. Id. CCBill raised Section 230 as a defense to this claim but the district court denied them immunity. Id. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit reversed and held CCBill was entitled to Section 230 immunity against all of Perfect 10's state claims, reasoning that because intellectual property laws vary considerably across states, "permitting the reach of any particular state's definition of intellectual property to dictate the contours of this federal immunity would be contrary to Congress's expressed goal of insulating the development of the Internet from the various state-law regimes." Id. at 1118."
  • Grace v eBay Court of Appeals CA Feb 5, 2004 Unpublished - holding eBay protected from liability
  • Carfano v., Inc., 339 F.3d 1119, 1124 (9th Cir. 2003) (subscription-based dating website which provided a questionaire was not the content provider of the responses to that questionaire)
  • Batzel v. Smith, 333 F.3d 1018, 1021 (9th Cir. 2003), cert. denied, __ U.S. __, 124 S. Ct. 2812, 159 L. Ed. 2d 246 (2004) (non profit website and listserv concerning stolen art)
  • 230(c) affords "broad immunity" n. 19
  • "One court has suggested that Congress might provide notice, “takedown,” and “put-back” procedures similar to those in the DMCA as a way of limiting the broad scope of section 230 immunity, which currently gives service providers little incentive to remove defamatory postings."
  • Green v. America Online, 318 F.3d 465 (3d Cir. 2003), , cert denied, 540 US 877 (2003). (In a case involving comments in a chat room, "The court reasoned that Green was attempting "to hold AOL liable for decisions relating to the monitoring, screening, and deletion of content from its network - actions quintessentially related to a publisher's role. Section 230 'specifically proscribes liability' in such circumstances."")
  • Ben Ezra, Weinstein, & Co. v. America Online, Inc., 206 F.3d 98 (10th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 824, 121 S. Ct. 69, 148 L. Ed. 2d 33 (2000).
  • Zeran v. America Online, 129 F.3d 327 (4th Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 524 U.S. 937, 118 S. Ct. 2341, 141 L. Ed. 2d 712 (1998).
  • District Court
  • RESTIS v. AMERICAN COALITION AGAINST NUCLEAR IRAN, INC., Dist. Court, SD New York 2014 (third party comments on facebook not actionable)
  • JOUDE v. WORDPRESS FOUNDATION, Dist. Court, ND California 2014 (state claim of misappropriation of likeness barred by Sec. 230).
  • Hupp v. FREEDOM COMMUNICATIONS, INC., Cal: Court of Appeal, 4th Appellate Dist., 2nd Div. 2013("Communications Decency Act of 1996 (47 U.S.C. § 230) confers "broad immunity against defamation liability for those who use the Internet to publish information that originated from another source." It concluded that "section 230 prohibits distributor liability for Internet publications.")
  • Perfect 10, Inc. v. Giganews, Inc., No. C 11-07098 AHM SHX, 2013 WL 2109963, at *15-16 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 8, 2013) (finding claims against service providers for violation of publicity rights under California law barred by Section 230)
  • Jones v. DIRTY WORLD ENTERTAINMENT RECORDINGS, LLC, Dist. Court, ED Kentucky 2013 (court denying defendant's motion to dismiss, finding defendant not eligible for immunity under Sec. 230(c))
  • Jones v. Dirty World Entm't Recordings, LLC, 840 F.Supp.2d 1008 (E.D. Ky. 2012)
  • v. Hoffman, DNJ Aug. 20 2013 (preempting state law, that would make an interactive service liable for advertising commercial sexual abuse of minors, as inconsistent with Sec. 230 and unconstitutional under the First Amemdment)
  • Merritt v. LEXIS NEXIS SCREENING SOLUTIONS, INC., Dist. Court, ED Michigan 2013 ('The Communications Decency Act ("CDA"), 47 U.S.C. § 230(c)(1), "precludes courts from entertaining claims that would place a computer service provider in a publisher's role," and therefore bars "lawsuits seeking to hold a service provider liable for its exercise of a publisher's traditional editorial functions — such as deciding whether to publish, withdraw, postpone, or alter content."')
  • v Robert E. Cooper, No. 3:12-cv-00654, Order, MDTN Jan. 3, 2013
  •, LLC v. McKenna, 881 F. Supp. 1262 (W.D. Wash. 2012)
  • Nasser v. WHITEPAGES, INC., Dist. Court, WD Virginia 2012
  • Nieman v. VERSUSLAW, INC., Dist. Court, CD Illinois 2012 (§ 230 of the CDA may not be used to bar a civil RICO claim because that would impair the enforcement of a Federal criminal statute.)
  • Fraley v. Facebook, Inc., 830 F. Supp. 2d 785, 801 (N.D. Cal. 2011), "In Fraley, under a theory of misappropriation of likeness, plaintiffs sued defendant Facebook for using their identities, images, and likenesses to generate targeted advertising. Facebook argued that because it is an "interactive computer service," Section 230 precluded plaintiffs' claim. Ruling against Facebook on Section 230 immunity, the court found that Facebook was liable because plaintiffs were not accusing Facebook of "publishing tortious content, but rather of creating and developing commercial content that violates their statutory right of publicity." Fraley, 830 F. Supp. 2d at 801. Fraley further held that an "interactive computer service provider" may still be liable for state claims if they are also acting as an "information content provider." Id. at 802."
  • Glenn Reit, DDS v Yelp, Inc!, 600555/2010, Supreme Court, NY County (Sept 7, 2010)
  • Rosetta Stone v Google, Case No. 1:09cv736 (GBL/TCB) (EDVA Aug 2, 2010)
  • Barnes v. Yahoo!, Inc., 570 F.3d 1096, 1101 (9th Cir. 2009) (recognizing that "the cause of action most frequently associated with the cases on section 230 is defamation[,]" but explaining that the statute`s protection extends beyond defamation causes of action)
  • Dart v. Craigslist, Inc., 665 F. Supp. 2d 961 - Dist. Court, ND Illinois 2009
  • Doe v. Friendfinder Network, Inc., 540 F. Supp. 2d 288, 302 (D.N.H. 2008) (declining to follow the Ninth Circuit and permitting a state-based right of publicity claim that would otherwise be precluded by Section 230).
  • e360Insight, LLC v. Comcast Corp., (ND Ill 2008) (Sec 230 defense successful regardless of plaintiff's compliance with Can Spam Act), ND ILL 4/17/2008
  • Children of America v. Magedson , CV 2007-003720 (AR Superior Court Oct. 31, 2007) (Ripoff Report case) (See Want to Sue Ripoff Report?)
  • Caselaw Construing 47 USC 230 Immunity is Surprisingly Scant Cybertelecom Nov 16, 2007
  • Ripoff Report Gets Mixed 230 Ruling--Children of America v. Magedson, Tech & Marketing Law 11/8/2007
  • Global Royalties Ltd v Xcentric Ventures LLC , No. 07-956-PHX-FJM, Order (DCAr Oct 10, 2007) A third party made comments on defendant's website about plaintiff. Plaintiff received a judgment in Canada enjoining defendant. Plaintiff seeks enforcement in the US . Defendant raises CDA sec. 230 as a defense for third party content. Court granted defendant's motion to dismiss.
  • The Right to Whine :: Global Royalties, Inc., v Xcentric Ventures, LLC, (DAR October 10, 2007), Cybertelecom 11/8/2007
  • Murawski v. Pataki, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72749 (S.D.N.Y. September 26, 2007) (defendant not liable where plaintiff demanded that remove from its search database a website that allegedly made it appear that plaintiff was a member of the communist party) Not Liable for Search Results or Indexing Decisions--Murawski v. Pataki , Technology and Law Marketing Blog (Sept 27, 2007)
  • FTC v Accusearch , Case No 06-CV-105-D (DWY Sept 28, 2007) (Denying defendant's Sec. 230 motion for summary judgment)
  • Doe v, (NDOh Aug 22, 2007) (defendant immune from liability where defendant is a website where people meetup in order to have sex, 'Jane Roe' posted her profile saying that she was 18, John Doe contacted Roe, they had sex, Roe was in fact 14, Doe was charged with statutory rape, and Doe sued for beach of contract, and fraud. Doe argued that should be liable because it reserved the right to modify the content of the profiles. Sexsearch's motion to dismiss was granted pursuant to 47 USC 230 "because the complaint did not allege that SexSearch had modified the content.")
  • Avery v. IdleAire Technologies Corp., [ED Tenn, 2007]. (Good Samaritan provision does not provide immunity from claim that pornography on computer creates a hostile work place).
  • Eckert v Microsoft Corp., No. 06-11888 (EDMi Feb. 13, 2007) (Defendant protected from liability; fact that defendant had notice of defamatory posting is not relevant to immunity).
  • Doe v MySpace Inc., 2007 WL 471156 (WDTx Feb. 13, 2007) (granting social networking sites motion to dismiss, finding MySpace to be an intermediary that provides a forum for third-part content)
  • Doe v Bates, No. 5:05-CV-91-DF-CMC (EDTX Dec. 27 2006) (finding that defendant Yahoo! is immune from civil liability based on third party content in a Yahoo! hosted forum in which child pornography was exchanged)
  • Chicago Lawyers' Committee For Civil Rights Under The Law, Inc. v. Craigslist, Inc., 461 F Supp 2d 681 (ND Ill 2006) ( "Near-unanimous case law holds that Section 230(c) affords immunity to ICSs against suits that seek to hold an ICS liable for third-party content." )
  • 800-JR Cigar, Inc. v., 437 F. Supp. 2d 273, 295 (D.N.J. 2006)
  • Barnes v. Yahoo!, (D Or Nov. 8, 2005)
  • Hammer v., 392 F. Supp. 2d 423, 431 (E.D.N.Y. 2005) (dismissing defamation claim against based on book reviews posted on the website by a third party)
  • Roskowski v. Corvallis Police Officers' Ass'n., Civ. No. 03-474-AS (D Or 2005)
  • Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v., LLC, Case 4:05-cv-00010-RAS (CDCa Sept. 30, 2004)
  • Corbis Corp. v., Inc., 351 F.Supp.2d 1090, 1118 (W.D. Wash. 2004) (no dispute that Amazon is an interactive service provider for CDA purposes)
  • Contra Batzel v. Cremers, 2001 US Dist LEXIS 8929 (C.D. Cal.)
  • Jane Doe v. AOL, No SC94355, Opinion (Supreme Court Florida March 8, 2001)
  • John Does v. Franco Productions, US Dist. Lexis 8645 (NDIll 2000).
  • Marczeski v. Law, 122 F. Supp.2d 315, 327 (D. Conn. 2000)
  • Donato v. Moldow, Docket No. A-5942-02T1 (Supp. Ct. NJ Appellate Div. Jan. 31, 2005) ("In the context of traditional media, the publisher of defamatory statements might well be exposed to liability for conduct such as that alleged against Moldow." -- holding that operator of community online bulletin board is not liable for allegedly defamatory remarks posted to bulletin board by anonymous third parties)
  • Blumenthal v. Drudge, 992 F.Supp. 44 (DDC 1998).
  • Jane Doe v. AOL and Richard Lee Russell, 718 So. 2d 385 (4th District Court of Appeals, Fla., October 14, 1998).
  • Stratton Oakmont, Inc. v. Prodigy Servs. Co., 1995 WL 323710, at *5 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. May 24, 1995).
  • See Senate Report Number 104-230, Second Session, page 194 (1996) [“One of the specific purposes of [section 230] is to overrule Stratton Oakmont v. Prodigy and any other similar decisions”]; House of Representatives Conference Report Number 104-458, Second Session, page 194 (1996) [“The conferees believe that [decisions like Stratton Oakmont] create serious obstacles to the important federal policy of empowering parents to determine the content of communications their children receive through interactive computer services”]; 141 Congressional Record H8469-H8470 (daily ed., June 14, 1995) [statement of Rep. Cox, referring to disincentives created by Stratton Oakmont decision].
  • Cubby, Inc. v. CompuServe, Inc., 776 F. Supp. 135, 140 (S.D.N.Y. 1991) (holding CompuServe “had no opportunity to review the contents of the publication at issue before it was uploaded into CompuServe’s computer banks” and therefore was not the publisher of third party content)
  • State Court
  • Braverman v. YELP, INC., 2013 NY Slip Op 31407 - NY: Supreme Court 2013
  • Backpage and Internet Archive v. McKenna, 2:12-cv-00954-RSM (W.D. Wash. July 27, 2012)
  • Lansing v. SOUTHWEST AIRLINES COMPANY, Ill: Appellate Court, 1st Dist., 6th Div. 2012
  • Shiamili v. The Real Estate Group of New York, Inc., 17 N.Y.3d 281, 287 (2011). (holding that CDA applies to Internet defamation claim against a website operator).
  • Milgrim v. Orbitz Worldwide, Inc., 419 N.J. Super. 305, 316 (2010) (finding defendants immune from liability under the CFA for conduct of third-party sellers using defendants' websites)
  • Ava v. NYP Holdings, Inc., 64 A.D.3d 407, 411 (1st Dep't 2009)
  • Pallorium, Inc. v Jared (Cal Ct. App. 2007) (unpublished) (defendant who maintained a public database of open relay servers - computers frequently exploited in order to distribute spam - is immune from liability pursuant to Good Samaritan provisions of the CDA)
  • Barrett v. Rosenthal, S122953, 146 P.3d 510, 513 ( Cal. 2006) (S Ct California Nov. 20, 2006) (finding that §230 creates immunity for a defendant who republishes defamatory speech regardless whether the ISP acted served more than a completely passive conduit) *** An Excellent Review of the Legilsative and Litigation History of Sec. 230.
  • Capital Corp. Merchant Banking, Inc. v. Corporate Colocation, Inc., 2008 WL 4058014 (M.D. Fla. Aug. 27, 2008)
  • Bauer v. GlatzerPDF (N.J Superior Ct. July 21, 2008)
  • Wikipedia Wins Dismissal of Baseless Defamation Claims EFF
  • Donato v. Moldow, Superior Court NJ DOCKET NO. A-5942-02T1 (Jan. 31, 2005) (web forum found not liable for third party content in suit brought by politicians who felt defamed)
  • Gentry v. eBay, Inc. 6/26/02 CA4/1, 99 Cal.App.4th 816 CA 6/28/02 - Gentry v. Ebay, Super Ct No GIC746980 (Court of Appeals, 4th App. District, State of California ( June 26, 2002) (holding eBay immune from liability for content provided by sellers on the service).
  • Barrett v. Clark, 2001 WL 881259, *9 (Cal. Super.)
  • Schneider v. Amazon, 108 Wn.App. 454, 463, 31 P.3d 37 (Wash. 2001) (finding Amazon to be an interactive service provider and entitled to immunity from claims based on defamatory reviews by third parties)
  • Lunney v. Prodigy Services Company, 250 AD 2d 230 (N.Y. App. Div. 1998), aff'd, 723 N.E.2d 539 (N.Y. 1999) (ISP not responsible when defamatory comments posted by an imposter)
  • Papers


    Attorneys General

  • Letter from National Association of Attorneys General, to Sen. Rockefeller, Sen. Thune, Rep. Upton, and Rep. Waxman, July 23, 2013 ("Every day, children in the United States are sold for sex. In instance after instance, State and local authorities discover that the vehicle s for advertising the victims of the child sex trade to the world are on line classified ad services, such as The involvement of these advertising companies is not incidental — these companies have constructed their business models around income gained from participants in the sex trade. But, as it has most recently been interpreted, the Communications Decency Act of 1996 ( “ CDA ” ) prevents State and local law enforcement agencies from prosecuting these companies . This must change.")
  • Letter from 22 NGOs and 19 Academics, to the Honorable Sen. John Rockefeller, Rep. Fred Upton, Sen. John Thune, Rep. Henry Waxman, July 30, 2013 ("The undersigned advocacy organizations, associations, investors, and legal scholars write to express our strong support for Section 230 of the Communications Act (47 U.S.C. § 230) and our opposition to the recent proposal by state attorneys general to create a broad new exception to the intermediary liability protections that law provides. ").
  • Andrew McDiarmid, Section 230 Under Attack: State AGs' Proposal Threatens Internet As We Know It, CDT (Jul. 25, 2013);
  • Matt Zimmerman, State AGs Ask Congress to Gut Critical CDA 230 Online Speech Protections, EFF (Jul. 24, 2013).
  • Eric Goldman, The State Attorneys General Want to Eviscerate a Key Internet Immunity, Fobers (June 26, 2013) ("the state AGs’ forthcoming proposal is a terrible idea")
  • &

  • New Hampshire
  • Attorneys General to Prove You Are Fighting Human Trafficing, New Hampshire Department of Justice Office of Attorney General, August 31, 2011
  • New Jersey
  • BACKPAGE. COM, LLC. v. Hoffman, Dist. Court, D. New Jersey 2013 (grating plaintiff's restraining order against against NJ law that would have made them liable for third party content; state law is inconsistent with Sec. 230 and unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment)
  • "The Act in question is likely inconsistent with and therefore expressly preempted by Section 230 as Section 230 prohibits "treat[ing]" a "provider or user of an interactive computer service" as the "publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider." 47 U.S.C. § 230. Both Backpage and Internet Archive are providers of an interactive computer service within the meaning of CDA Section 230. See 47 U.S.C. § 230(0(2) (defining an interactive computer service as "any information service, system, or access software provider that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server, including specifically a service or system that provides access to the Internet and such systems operated or services offered by libraries or educational institutions.). Section 12(b)(1) of the Act runs afoul of Section 230 by imposing liability on Plaintiffs for information created by third parties— namely ads for commercial sex acts depicting minors—so long as it "knows" that it is publishing, disseminating, displaying, or causing to be published, disseminated, or displayed such information. See Almeida v., Inc., 456 F. 3d 1316, 1321 (11th Cir. 2006) (quoting Zeran v. Am. Online Inc., 129 F. 3d 327, 330 (4th Cir. 1997) ("The majority of federal circuits have interpreted [Section 230] to establish broad federal immunity to any cause of action that would make service providers liable for information originating with a third-party user of the service.") (internal citations omitted); Barnes v. Yahoo!, Inc., 570 F.3d 1096, 1101-02 (9th Cir. 2009) ("[w]hat matters is not the name of the cause of action . . . [but] whether [it] inherently requires the court to treat the defendant as the `publisher or speaker' of content provided by another.").

    Additionally the Act is inconsistent with Section 230 of the CDA because it criminalizes the "knowing" publication, dissemination, or display of specified content. As Judge Martinez found in McKenna, "in doing so, it creates an incentive for online service providers not to monitor the content that passes through its channels. This was precisely the situation that the CDA was enacted to remedy." McKenna, 881 F. Supp. 2d at 1273 (internal citations omitted)."

  • Tennessee
  • v Robert E. Cooper, No. 3:12-cv-00654, Order, MDTN Jan. 3, 2013
  • "In May 2012, the two houses of the Tennessee general assembly respectively passed similar legislation creating the felony crime of "advertising commercial sex with a minor." The legislation closely tracked the first draft of the Washington law. The governor signed the legislation on Ma 21, 2012, making it a felony to "knowingly sell[] or offer[ ] to sell an advertisement that would appear to a reasonable person to be for the purpose of engaging in what would be a commercial sex act . . . with a minor." See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-315. The Tennessee law was scheduled to take effect July 1, 2012.

    On June 27, 2012, brought suit to enjoin the law in the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Tennessee. The defendants (the Tennessee AG and the district attorneys for each of the state's 31 judicial districts) stipulated they would not enforce the Tennessee law pending resolution of's challenges. After extended briefing and a hearing, the court entered a preliminary injunction on January 3, 2013. Like McKenna. the Tennessee federal court issued a thorough opinion, invalidating the Tennessee statute on all the grounds urged by See LLC v. Cooper, No. 3:12-cv-00654, 2013 WL 1558785 (M.D. Tenn. Jan. 3, 2013). The Court wrote:

    The Constitution tells us that when freedom of speech hangs in the balance—the state may not use a butcher knife on a problem that requires a scalpel to fix. Nor may a state enforce a law that flatly conflicts with federal law. Yet, this appears to be what the Tennessee legislature has done in passing the law at issue.

    Cooper, 2013 WL 1558785 at *1. As in Washington, the defendants in Cooper declined to further defend the Tennessee law after the court's preliminary injunction order. On March 19, 2013, the court granted's unopposed motion to convert the preliminary injunction into a permanent injunction and entered final judgment invalidating the Tennessee law." - v. Hoffman, DNJ Aug. 20 2013

  • Washington
  •, LLC v. McKenna, 881 F. Supp. 1262 (W.D. Wash. 2012)
  • Eric Goldman, Overzealous Legislative Effort Against Online Child Prostitution Ads at Backbpage Fails, Providing Big Win for User Generated Content, Forbes July 30 2012 ("Last week, in Backpage and Internet Archive v. McKenna, 2:12-cv-00954-RSM (W.D. Wash. July 27, 2012), a federal judge rejected the Washington legislature’s efforts, turning the case into a major victory for Section 230 and user-generated content.")
  • "In January 2012, Washington state legislators introduced a bill to address "advertising commercial sexual abuse of a minor." After being enacted by the Washington legislature and signed into law by Washington's governor, the law was set to go into effect on June 7, 2012. See WASH. REN. CODE ANN. § 9.68A.104 (2012).

    On June 4, 2012, filed suit in the U.S. District Court `for the Western District of Washington, seeking a temporary restraining order ("TRO"), preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, and a declaration that the new law was unconstitutional and violated the Communications Decency Act of 1996, 47 U.S.C. § 230 ("CDA"). The Court granted's request for a TRO the next day. After full briefing and argument, on July 27, 2012, the Court entered a preliminary injunction, enjoining enforcement of the la on all six of the grounds asserted by and the Internet Archive (which joined as a co-plaintiff)—the same challenges raised here. See, LLC v. McKenna, 881 F. Supp. 1262 (W.D. Wash. 2012).

    Thereafter, the defendants in McKenna (the Washington AG and the county prosecutors) conceded they would not continue to defend the law, and on December 10, 2012, stipulated to a final judgment permanently enjoining its enforcement and awarding attorneys' fees. The Washington AG also agreed to work with the state legislature to repeal the Washington statute, and the legislature has since enacted a measure to repeal the law effective July 28, 2013. " - v. Hoffman, DNJ Aug. 20 2013

  • Craigslist

  • Dart v. Craigslist, Inc., 665 F. Supp. 2d 961 - Dist. Court, ND Illinois 2009
  • Craigslist Eludes Sheriff Dart, Thanks to CDA Section 230 Immunity, Techlaw 10/22/2009
  • Craigslist Isn't Liable for Erotic Services Ads--Dart v. Craigslist, Tech Marketing Law 10/22/2009
  • Court Teaches Cook County Sheriff About Section 230, Dismisses Case Against Craigslist, Techdirt 10/22/2009
  • EFF: AGs Have No Case, Craigslist 5/7/2009
  • Letter from Henry McMaster, Office of the Attorney General, State of South Carolina, to Jim Buckmaster, CEO, craigslist, May 5, 2009 ("I hope you will take immediate steps to end craiglist from being used to facilitate harmful activities in South Carolina").
  • Claire Cain Miller, Craigslist Says It Has Shut Its Section for Sex Ads, New York Times, Sept. 15, 2010 (“Craigslist discontinued its adult services section on Sept. 3, 2010, and there are no plans to reinstate the category,” Mr. Powell said. “Those who formerly posted ads in the adult services category will now have to advertise elsewhere, and in fact there is evidence that this process began immediately.”)
  • Striking a New Balance, Craigslist Blog May 13, 2009 ("Also effective today for all US sites, a new category entitled “adult services” will be opened for postings by legal adult service providers. Each posting to this new category will be manually reviewed before appearing on the site, to ensure compliance with craigslist posting guidelines and terms of use. New postings will cost $10, but once approved, will be eligible for reposting at $5...Note: Our announced intention to contribute 100% of net revenues for the “erotic services” category to charity has been fulfilled, and will continue to be fulfilled, notwithstanding criticism questioning our good faith in this regard. ")
  • AGs v Craigslist: Putting the Bully Back in Bully Pulpit, EFF (May 6, 2013) ("On Tuesday, South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster notified craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster that unless craigslist removes its erotic services section within 10 days, "craigslist management may be subject to criminal investigation and prosecution." McMaster's threat comes on the heels of increasingly bellicose rhetoric in recent weeks from other AGs such as Rhode Island AG Patrick Lynch, Illinois AG Lisa Madigan, and Connecticut AG Richard Blumenthal. The case further echos the suit brought by Cook County (Illinois) Sheriff Thomas Dart back in March seeking, among other things, compensation for funds the County spent on combating prostitution. The AGs would almost certainly lose any such threatened lawsuit.")
  • CL Sues SC AG For Declaratory Relief, Craigslist 5/21/2009
  • SC AG Federal Court Filings, Craigslist 5/21/2009
  • AG Meeting in NYC, Craigslist 5/7/2009
  • Pushed Into a Corner, Craigslist Bites Back, CDT 5/21/2009
  • If It's On The Internet... Blame The Service Provider (Especially If It's Craigslist), Techdirt 3/28/2008
  • Craigslist Gets Seventh Circuit 230 Win in Fair Housing Act Case--Chicago Lawyers' Committee v. Craigslist, Tech & Marketing Law 3/17/2008
  • 7th Circuit rules in favor of Craigslist, Online Liability 3/17/2008
  • samaritansamaritan


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