South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Message Board Operator Not Liable for False Comments Posted by Users
Description Appeals court held that a company that claimed to be defamed and cyberstalked by users of a message board had no grounds for suit against the provider of the board. The Communications Decency Act specifically provided immunity for such operators.
Topic Cyberlaw
Key Words Defamation; Cyberstalking; Communications Decency Act; Provider; Message Board
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Universal Communication Systems (UCS) sued Lycos, the provider of assorted Internet message boards, including RagingBull.Com, which hosts a financially-oriented board that allows users to post comments about publicly-traded companies. Some postings were negative about UCS’s financial condition. It sued Lycos and eight John Does, the posters of negative comments. It claimed cyberstalking under the Communications Decency Act (CDA) and defamation. The district court dismissed the suit. UCS appealed.

Affirmed. Under the CDA, an Internet message board operator is immune from liability for allegedly false and defamatory postings made by third party subscribers to the board. None of the alleged misinformation was generated by Lycos. Similarly, there is no claim for defamation of the company name or trademark. Congress intended such message board operators to be immune from liability for statements posted by users.

Citation Universal Communications Systems v. Lycos, 478 F.3d 413 (1st Cir., 2007)

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