A lawsuit involving an activist who posted the letter of a third party on her website has been settled with far reaching consequences for the online community and its service providers. Some of the internets biggest players including Amazon, Google and Ebay supported the woman in her legal battle which may well save them from future liable cases.
The court ruled that internet service providers and bloggers were not to be considered the publishers of information provided by a third party and therefore only the original creator of the materials can be perused for libel.
Associate Justice Carol A. Corrigan said, “The prospect of blanket immunity for those who intentionally redistribute defamatory statements on the Internet has disturbing implications, Nevertheless … statutory immunity serves to protect online freedom of expression and to encourage self-regulation, as Congress intended.”
In the Communications Decency Act of 1996 Congress declared: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”
A full account of Barrett v. Rosenthal can be found here.