Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Friday, December 05, 2003

It is a common practice in the blogging community to post policies pertaining to the use of email sent to the site. Our policy has always been to ask the sender, but others take the view that it is all publishable unless expressly stated otherwise. It hadn't occurred to me that there might be liability issues associated with this question, perhaps because I have never seen a potentially defamatory email. Comes now the Ninth Circuit, in Batzel v Cremers, (pdf file) which holds that the Communications Decency Act may immunize bulletin board hosts (and by extention, bloggers) from liability for publishing defamatory material received from a third party. Interesting stuff, and a well written opinion. Nice to see such a tech-savvy bit of jurisprudence, too-- lots of judges are still at the "They have the internet on computers now?" stage.

The other thing that I think is worth noting about Batzel is that it is a good example of what a peculiar lens the law provides for viewing our culture. Nazis, p0rn and Scientology are what cyberlaw suggests the internet is all about. This is true generally-- if all you had to go by was a set of F. Supps or New York reports you'd think that American culture is very different from what it actually is-- I think. Thanks to The Blogbook for the cite.

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