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Bad Words and Good Samaritans: Defamatory Speech in Cyberspace

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Abstract:

This paper considers whether Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are legally responsible for defamatory speech posted by third parties. Toward that end, the paper begins by identifying two competing models—ISPs as distributors and ISPs as publishers—developed by the courts in Cubby v. CompuServe (1991) and Stratton Oakmont v. Prodigy (1995). The second section of the paper revisits this controversy in light of the United States Court of Appeals decision in Zeran v. America Online (1997), a case involving Section 230—the so-called "Good Samaritan" clause—of the ill-fated Communications Decency Act. The final section of this paper briefly summarizes the growing scholarly criticism of Section 230 and the Zeran decision. In the final pages, the paper directly responds to this criticism, arguing that Section 230 was intended to immunize ISPs, and that Zeran was correctly decided.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

court (70), zeran (68), v (64), isp (56), section (55), 230 (52), provid (51), p (50), servic (47), liabil (47), law (46), post (45), publish (41), prodigi (40), defamatori (37), aol (36), internet (36), defam (34), distributor (34), speech (34), content (30),

Author's Keywords:

defamation, Section 230, Zeran, Cubby, Stratton Oakmont, Internet
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Name: International Communication Association
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http://www.icahdq.org


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MLA Citation:

Herbeck, Dale. "Bad Words and Good Samaritans: Defamatory Speech in Cyberspace" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Marriott Hotel, San Diego, CA, May 27, 2003 <Not Available>. 2009-05-26 <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p112263_index.html>

APA Citation:

Herbeck, D. , 2003-05-27 "Bad Words and Good Samaritans: Defamatory Speech in Cyberspace" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Marriott Hotel, San Diego, CA Online <.PDF>. 2009-05-26 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p112263_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: This paper considers whether Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are legally responsible for defamatory speech posted by third parties. Toward that end, the paper begins by identifying two competing models—ISPs as distributors and ISPs as publishers—developed by the courts in Cubby v. CompuServe (1991) and Stratton Oakmont v. Prodigy (1995). The second section of the paper revisits this controversy in light of the United States Court of Appeals decision in Zeran v. America Online (1997), a case involving Section 230—the so-called "Good Samaritan" clause—of the ill-fated Communications Decency Act. The final section of this paper briefly summarizes the growing scholarly criticism of Section 230 and the Zeran decision. In the final pages, the paper directly responds to this criticism, arguing that Section 230 was intended to immunize ISPs, and that Zeran was correctly decided.

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Document Type: .PDF
Page count: 28
Word count: 7992
Text sample:
BAD WORDS AND GOOD SAMARITANS: DEFAMATORY SPEECH IN CYBERSPACE ICA-1-10198 The unprecedented growth of the Internet has raised a variety of difficult legal questions. While public attention has focused on efforts to regulate sexually explicit speech more than 400 defamation suits have been filed for Internet speech over the past two years (Anschütz 2001 p. 42). Defamation actions have resulted from content available on Web sites postings to bulletin boards and conversations in chat rooms. A brief sampling of
suggested approach. Richmond Journal of Law & Technology 6 9+. Available at < http://law.richmond.edu/jolt//v6i2/note1.html> Walker M. (1995 27 May). Internet rocked by US libel case. London Guardian p. 3. Whitney v. California 274 U S 357 (1927). Wiener D. (1999). Negligent publication of statements posted on electronic bulletin boards: Is there any liability left after Zeran? Santa Clara Law Review 39 905-939. Zeran v. America Online 958 F. Supp. 1124 (E.D. Va. 1997a). Zeran v. America Online 129 F.4d


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