Barrett v Rosenthal

Brief of Amici Curiae EFF & ACLU of Northern California in Support of Defendant-Respondent


This case is a libel suit filed against women's health advocate Ilena Rosenthal after she posted a controversial opinion piece on a Usenet news group. The piece was written not by Rosenthal, but by Tim Bolen, a critic of plaintiff Terry Polevoy.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs argue that Rosenthal is liable because posting the comments makes her a "developer" of the information in question, and she therefore becomes the legal equivalent of its creator for the purposes of the lawsuit.

The California Court of Appeals found on behalf of Plaintiff. Defendant has appealed to the California Supreme Court and here, EFF and the ACLU of Northern California have filed a friend-of-the-court brief claiming that the lower court ruling could undermine a federal statute protecting the free speech of bloggers, Internet service providers, and other individuals who use the Internet to post content written by others.

In this amici brief in support of Defendant-Respondent Rosenthal, EFF and the ACLU argue that Section 230 of the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 protects Internet publishers from being held liable for allegedly harmful comments written by others. Similar attempts to eliminate the protections created by Section 230 have almost universally been rejected, until a California Court of Appeals radically reinterpreted the statute to allow lawsuits against non-authors.

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Reference Info:Appellate Brief | State, 9th Circuit, California | United States

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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