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Federal Court Says Bloggers Not Responsible for Comments

The ACS is reporting that a federal court has reaffirmed both bloggers and forum operators cannot be held liable for comments posts made by their readership in blog comments.

Examining the impact of Sec. 230 on this case, the court noted that “Congress intended that, within broad limits, message board operators would not be held responsible for the postings made by others on that board,” adding that allowing bloggers and message board operators to be sued for the statements of commenters on their sites would have an “obvious chilling effect” on speech. Accordingly, the court dismissed the complaint against Lycos.

This is definitely a victory for the little guy who cannot afford to fight off legal action from large corporations trying to have comments removed from blogs.

This does not mean you can’t be subpoenaed to testify about the person making the comments. You can also be forced to turn over logs revealing the persons identity through email and ip addresses. It wasn’t to long ago that Shoemoney was subpoenaed over blog comments.

  • http://www.linkworth.com mstoddart

    Maybe its time to update the 1st amendment in the Bill of Rights and add “freedom to comment on blog posts.”

  • Jordan McCollum

    Um… no. First Amendment’s got it covered. We’ve got the freedom of the press for the blogger (y’know, sort of). We’ve got freedom of assembly, which I think should cover an online community like a blog. And we’ve got freedom of speech, so the blogger and the commenter can say what they want.

    The ruling doesn’t say that bloggers aren’t responsible for comments (or posts) that they write. It says that bloggers aren’t responsible for “comments posts made by their readership in blog comments.”

    It’s less of a “freedom to comment on blog posts” and more of a “freedom not to be responsible for the crazies that come to your blog.” Unless, of course, you are criminally responsible, I suppose.

    It’ll be interesting to see how this ruling is used in the courts in the long run.

    I’m not trying to jump all over you, I just want people to read what Jeremy wrote and not see the headline and make assumptions. (And my hat off to Jeremy, who can spell subpoenaed.)

  • http://www.linkworth.com mstoddart

    Actually, I was only kidding! No worries…

  • Jordan McCollum

    Oh, good. I taught a college class on the Constitution for a couple years, so I’m a little . . . okay, rabid about the subject.

  • http://www.thejasonmurphyshow.com Jason

    Sweet! No more holding back when I think about leaving comments here. ;)

  • http://www.xuru.com Jeremy Luebke

    Spell check baby. In fact, my spell check couldn’t even give me the right version. I had to go to Google to get it and even then I had to put the word court in front of the mis-pelled version to get Google to give me the right one ;)