California court rules on web defamation

by admin November 21, 2006 at 12:29 pm

Website owners ‘not responsible for third-party comments’

The California Supreme Court has ruled that internet service providers and bloggers cannot be sued for third-party comments posted on their sites.

In the case of Barrett versus Rosenthal the court found that only the originator of the content could be sued, but that third parties who repost the material should be immune from prosecution.

The ruling has profound implications for the future of internet content.

“We acknowledge that recognising broad immunity for defamatory republications on the internet has some troubling consequences,” said the court.

“Until Congress chooses to revise the settled law in this area, however, plaintiffs who contend they were defamed in an internet posting may only seek recovery from the original source of the statement.”

The case stemmed from two doctors who ran websites debunking some alternative medicines and seeking to identify medical fraud.

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