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Bad Words and Good Samaritans: Defamatory Speech in Cyberspace
Unformatted Document Text:  4 control over . . . publication than does a public library, book store, or newsstand, and it would be no more feasible for CompuServe to examine every publication it carries for potentially defamatory statements than it would be for any other distributor to do so” (p. 140). To hold otherwise, the Cubby court concluded, “would impose an undue burden on the free flow of information” (p. 140). Stratton Oakmont v. Prodigy (1995) Early on the morning of Sunday, October 24, 1994, an anonymous message appeared on the “Money Talk” bulletin board of Prodigy Services Company. Referring to a Long Island based broker, the posting said “THANK GOD! THE END OF STRATTON OAKMONT WILL FINALLY COME THIS WEEK!” The message continued, “This brokerage firm headed by president and soon to be proven criminal—Daniel Porush—will close this week.” To document this claim, the posting offered the following circumstantial evidence: On Thursday, October 20, Stratton Oakmont had underwritten an initial public offering by the Solomon-Page Group, a recruiting and placement company. After the close of trading on Friday, October 21, Stratton Oakmont and Solomon-Page had jointly announced that Solomon-Page’s biggest customer was leaving the company. The posting concluded, “THIS IS FRAUD, FRAUD, FRAUD, AND CRIMINAL!!!!!!!!” (Frankel, 1995, 59-66). The anonymous user posted additional messages over the weekend and these postings remained on “Money Talk” for two weeks. Although Daniel Porush was not a Prodigy subscriber, he eventually learned of the postings and he immediately brought a defamation action. Subsequent research by Prodigy revealed that the messages in question were posted on an account issued to David Lusby, a former employee of the ISP. Lusby, who had departed from

Authors: Herbeck, Dale.
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control over . . . publication than does a public library, book store, or newsstand, and it would be
no more feasible for CompuServe to examine every publication it carries for potentially
defamatory statements than it would be for any other distributor to do so” (p. 140). To hold
otherwise, the Cubby court concluded, “would impose an undue burden on the free flow of
information” (p. 140).
Stratton Oakmont v. Prodigy (1995)
Early on the morning of Sunday, October 24, 1994, an anonymous message appeared on
the “Money Talk” bulletin board of Prodigy Services Company. Referring to a Long Island
based broker, the posting said “THANK GOD! THE END OF STRATTON OAKMONT WILL
FINALLY COME THIS WEEK!” The message continued, “This brokerage firm headed by
president and soon to be proven criminal—Daniel Porush—will close this week.” To document
this claim, the posting offered the following circumstantial evidence: On Thursday, October 20,
Stratton Oakmont had underwritten an initial public offering by the Solomon-Page Group, a
recruiting and placement company. After the close of trading on Friday, October 21, Stratton
Oakmont and Solomon-Page had jointly announced that Solomon-Page’s biggest customer was
leaving the company. The posting concluded, “THIS IS FRAUD, FRAUD, FRAUD, AND
CRIMINAL!!!!!!!!” (Frankel, 1995, 59-66).
The anonymous user posted additional messages over the weekend and these postings
remained on “Money Talk” for two weeks. Although Daniel Porush was not a Prodigy
subscriber, he eventually learned of the postings and he immediately brought a defamation
action. Subsequent research by Prodigy revealed that the messages in question were posted on an
account issued to David Lusby, a former employee of the ISP. Lusby, who had departed from


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