Sunday, May 18, 2014

Zeran v. AOL case brief summary

Zeran v. AOL case brief summary

(1) Facts: Someone posted Z's number and said that he was selling tee-shirts about the Oklahoma city bombing. Z asked AOL to take it down, sued AOL. Said that AOL knew the postings were false and didn’t do anything. AOL used §230 as defense. Z tried to say that AOL is a distributor, not a publisher and should therefore have notice liability.
(2) Court: AOL is immune. Strong policy and practical reasons against notice based liability for the internet. Very high volume of posts, didn’t want to be subject to heckler's veto. Would cost a lot of time/money to screen everything. Broad application of 230, broad definition of publisher.
(3) Everything on the internet involves a publisher in some sense.
(a)   Wanted to encourage self-regulation.
(b)   "Mere conduits" have a different form of liability, and there is a knowledge element
(c)    But a distributor is also a publisher and in the online world that means immunity
(i)     Ie, anyone who does anything aside from create the original statement is a publisher
(4) Result: If you are in ICS, you will be immune b/c you will be treated as mere conduit, even if you have notice.

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