[LINK] UCS v. Lycos and free speech on the Internet

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Thu Mar 1 09:20:59 AEDT 2007

[Contrary to current directions in Australia, the US courts have 
confirmed that those who facilitate free speech are immune from the 
consequences of abuse of the freedom of speech by others.  (Those who 
abuse the freedom may suffer the consequences of course;  but even 
the much-maligned CDA conforms with the principle of holding the 
originator liable but not the messenger)]

UCS v. Lycos and free speech on the Internet
Wednesday, February 28 2007 @ 02:43 PM EST

Plaintiffs Universal Communication Systems, Inc. and its chief 
executive officer, Michael J. Zwebner, (collectively, "UCS") brought 
suit, objecting to a series of allegedly false and defamatory 
postings made under pseudonymous screen names on an Internet message 
board operated by Lycos, Inc. UCS identified two of the screen names 
as having been registered to Roberto Villasenor, Jr. UCS sued not 
only Villasenor and the other posters of messages, as John Does, but 
also Lycos and Terra Networks, S.A., Lycos's corporate parent at the 
time of the postings in question.

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.

Roger Clarke                  http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/

Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in Info Science & Eng  Australian National University
Visiting Professor in the eCommerce Program      University of Hong Kong
Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW

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