SW Legal studies in Business

Amazon Not Liable for Posting Negative Comments About Book Author
Description Appeals court held that Amazon was immune from liability under the Communications Decency Act in a suit for breach of contract and defamation brought by a book author who was unhappy about negative book reviews posted by Amazon on its web site.
Topic Cyberlaw
Key Words Defamation; Breach of Contract; Communications Decency Act; Online Sales
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Schneider wrote several books. They are for sale on Amazon. Amazon allows visitors to express opinions about books and gives guidelines about the posting of comments (no obscenity, no promotional material, etc.). Amazon posted comments about Schneider's books that were mostly negative. One comment asserted that Schneider was a felon. Schneider asked Amazon to remove the comments; it said it would but did not. Schneider sued Amazon and various "John and Jane Does" for defamation and sued Amazon for breach of contract. Amazon moved to dismiss on the grounds that it was immune from liability under the Communications Decency Act (CDA). The trial court dismissed the suit; Schneider appealed.

Affirmed. Amazon is immune from breach of contract in this instance under the CDA. It is a publisher of information provided by its web site users. For immunity, the defendant must be a provider or user of an "interactive computer service," the asserted claims must treat the defendant as a publisher of information, and the information must be provided by another "information content provider." Amazon met those qualifications. Whether Amazon left the negative reviews on the web site or not is a matter of editorial discretion. Amazon is also immune from a claim of defamation in this instance.

Citation Schneicer v. Amazon.com, Inc., 31 P.3d 37 (Ct. App., Wash., 2001)

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