California Supreme Court Says Web Publisher Isn't Liable for Defamation


California Supreme Court says web publisher isn't liable for defamation for publishing 3rd party comments:

The court, in a unanimous decision, said those claiming defamation can only sue the original source of the allegedly offending comments, not publishers or distributors, even if the distributor is an individual. Internet users are protected by the same 1996 Communications Decency Act that grants immunity against defamation claims to publishers in most circumstances, the court said, overturning a San Francisco appeals court.


Funny, we had some

Funny, we had some discussions of this case at Pubcon. If you're out there Michael, look what was included in the court documents; somebody said this about the creators of QuackWatch:

Dr. Barrett is arrogant, bizarre, closed-minded, emotionally disturbed, professionally incompetent, intellectually dishonest, a dishonest journalist, sleazy, unethical, a quack, a thug, a bully, a Nazi, a hired gun for vested interests, the leader of a subversive organization, and engaged in criminal activity (conspiracy, extortion, filing a false police report, and other unspecified acts).

Less than meets the eye

It's a helpful ruling, but it doesn't mean all that much. The ruling only applies in California, and only there until the federal 9th Circuit or the US Supreme Court rules on the issue. Still, it's one more ruling, from a fairly important state court. The bottom line, however, is that we are still a long way from having a take it to the bank answer on these issues.

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