[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [Redacted]

Heh, I haven't been participating in the list for a week or so. But here's
my 2 cents worth.

In 1991 in Cubby v. CompuServe, . Cameron Communications Inc. ("CCI"), which
was an independant of CompuServe was contracted to "manage, review, delete,
edit and otherwise control its contents" according to the standards and
conventions of style of the Journalism Forum as established by CompuServe.
Don fitzapatrick Associates of San Franciso ("DFA") published the Rumorville
USA, a publication part of the Journalism forum, a daily newsletter that
provides reports about broadcast journalism and journalists. CompuServe had
no employment contractual, or direct relationship with the DFA. DFA provided
Rumorville to the Journalism Forum under a contract under CCI.

The Plaintiffs claim that, on separate occasions in April 1990, Rumerville
published false and defamtory statements relating to Skuttlebut and
Blanchared, and that Compuserve carried these statements as part of the
Journalism Fourm. The defamatory marks suggested that individuals at
Skuttlebut gained access to information first published by Rumoerville
"through some back door", a statement that Blanchard was "bounced" from his
previous employer, WABC, and a description of Skuttlebut as a "new start-up"

The Plaintiffs had not been able to show any specific facts that there was a
genuine issue as to whether CompuServe knew or even had reason to know of
Rumorville's contents. The judgement went in favor of CompuServe because as
a news distributor, it may not be held liable if it niether knew nor had
reason to know of the allgedly defamatory Rumerville statements.

The requirement in which a distributor must have knowledge of the contents
of a publication before liability can be imposed for distributing that
publication is deeply rooted in the First Amendment, made applicable to the
states through the Fourteenth Amendment. "[T]he constitutional guarantees of
the freedom of speech and of the press stand in the way of imposing" strict
liability on distributors for the contents of the reading materials they
carry. In Smith v. California 1959, the court struck down an ordinace that
imposed liability on a bookseller for possession of an obscene (which is
means something different for everyone apparently) books, regardless of
whether the bookseller had knowledge of the book's conents. The court
reasoned that

"Every bookseller would be placed under an obligation to make himself aware
of the contents of every book in his shop.
 It would be altogether unreasonable to demand so near an approach to
omniscience."  And the bookseller's burden
 would become the public's burden, for by restricting him the public's
access to
 reading matter would be restricted.  If the contents of bookshops
and periodical stands were restricted to material of which their
proprietors had made an inspection, they might be depleted indeed."

In Zeran V. America Online (4th Cir., 1997), Zeran argued that AOL had
unreasonably delayed in removing defamatory messages posted by an
unidentified third party and refused to post retractions of those messages.
The distrcit court granted judgement in AOL's favor on the grounds that the
CDA of 1996,  230 immunizing computer service providers like AOL from
liability for information that originates with third parties.

The relevant potion of  230 states: "No provider or user of an interactive
computer service shall be treated as the publisher or
speaker of any information provided by another information content

Thus, lawsuits seeking to hold a service provider liable for its exercise of
a publisher's traditional editorial functions, such as deciding whether to
publish, withdraw, postpone, or alter content, are barred.

However Actwin is probably defined as an "Information Content Provider"
defined as "any person or entity that is responsible, in whole or in part,
for the creation or development of information provided through the Internet
or any other interactive computer service." If the APD publishers activily
monitor the mailing list, this will give the publishers actual or putative
knowledge of user conduct and content. Thus, active monitoring creates the
possibility that a mailing-list will be liable for all user-caused harms
except those preempted by the safe harbor in the Communications Decency Act.
Though, if Actwin contracts to have someone else monitor the mailing list
then the company could not be held liable for user content as long as the
contractors have authority necessary to resolve problems they find. 

As we know that Napster was forced to control it's content to exclude any
illegal copyrighted music. I think Napster was "pushing it" to think that it
could be an Information Content Provider, and have third partys dictate the
content without any control and continue to upgrade their software making it
even easier. Though I'm not a very big fan of the RIAA, I definitly agree
with the courts decision, even though I would love music to be free,
sometimes what we want or like, is not always ethical or morally correct.

Libel means a piece of writing which contains bad and false things about a
person.  It's easier to prove Libel when the accusations aren't suttle
toward someone like "This guy is a convicted murderer, don't hire him" when
the accusation is totally false and injures the person financially since he
would obviously not get hired. [Redacted] would definitly need to have proved that
if someone says publically that "they do not have a good reputation" would
be a completely false statement since it a negative statement could fall
under the word "bad", whether they have to prove that the company was hurt
in someway such as financially I am not clear. Personally I dont think
anyone really cared when the statement was made, though I'm broke anyway :)
I dont think I even saw the first posting in which it was mentioned, but
payed attention when it became a legal issue.

Reputation: what people in general think or say about someone or something;
how much someone or something is generally liked, admired or respected,
based on past behaviour, character, etc.

There seems to be conflicting information on the APD whether people
generally think this company has a good or bad reputation in my opinion,
there is some negative and positive feed back about the company, though
which company has never had negative feedback? I guess the only way to find
out is to take an unbiased poll on whether or not the company has a good or
bad reputation or proof of number of sales in a month sounds more
reasonable, if a company gets 10,000 purchases a month, I think it would be
difficult to prove that they had a bad reputation.

[Redacted]. I think Mr. Weinberger
had made his statement really based on a few APD articles, please correct me
if I'm wrong. Lots of people make poor generalization arguements using very
little in the way of evidence (everyone needs Logic classes!). For example,
if you hear 3 bad things about a company, you might you might expect its a
bad company, when infact there might be 500 good things people say about it.
As general as a reputations might be I think the only way a company can
determine whether it has a good or bad reputation is based on the number of
sales they recieve.  If Mr. Weinberger's statement had damanged the company
financially and it was reasonably proven that he was the sole cause, then I
believe he should be held responsible, but since the APD is being provided
as a public service and probably isn't monitored by the staff twice a day
which probably would mean it's not activily moniterd,  I doubt it could be
held responsible(not to mention make me and a lot of people angry since it's
a wonderful service and great knowledge base), however if Libel and
defamatory remarks can be proven, then the APD should at the very least is
delete the content . [Redacted] Other than that I can really only find
possibly two articles only relating to their services, one was an apology
even, and I think Tom Barr of AGA had stated that "I've read several members
complaints about this company.I cannot agree with them at all. My experience
was an opposite. They were much more willing on both customer service and
replacement(s) than any company I've dealt with and I've dealt with quite a

So in closing, if a company which is an Information Content Provider, knows
about the content and activily monitors the content in which is being
provided from third-party sources can be held legally responsible. If a user
makes false accusations against a person or company then they can be held
legally responsible.If an Information Content Provider contracts out to
monitor the publications and have access to resolve problems, or doesn't
know the content in which it's distributing it can not be held liable. Of
course, this is how I understand the Laws, if I'm mistaken, please let me
know. I hope you had fun reading this since it took me about 4 hours to
create/edit/publish :)

- Matt