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California Supreme Court backs websites on "libelous" content

November 20, 2006

The California Supreme Court rulesd on Monday that when a website publishes inflammatory information written and submitted by another party, the site cannot be sued for libel.

The case came in the matter of Ilena Rosenthal, a San Diego woman and breast implants rights activist who posted an allegedly libelous email on two websites

The ruling held that that the Communications Decency Act of 1996 provides broad immunity from defamation lawsuits for people who publish information on the Internet that was gathered from another source.

"The prospect of blanket immunity for those who intentionally redistribute defamatory statements on the Internet has disturbing implications," Associate Justice Carol Corrigan wrote in the majority opinion. "Nevertheless ... statutory immunity serves to protect online freedom of expression and to encourage self-regulation, as Congress intended."

Several prominent websites sided with the woman, including Amazon.com, AOL, eBay, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.




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