Site Owners Not Liable for Third-Party Postings

By Deane Barker on November 22, 2006

Court says blogs can’t be sued for postings: This is some good news…or bad, I guess, depending on if you’ve been defamed or not.

Bloggers and website owners cannot be sued for posting libelous or defamatory comments written by third parties, the California Supreme Court has ruled. The court said only the original authors of comments published online can be sued.

Later in the story, they talk about another case:

The attorneys defending the owner of a dating website who is being sued by a Pittsburgh man who claims the site defamed him said they thought the California decision would help their defense.

Tasha Joseph, who owns, a website where women post warnings about men they consider to be bad dates, is being sued by Todd Hollis, a Pittsburgh defense lawyer. Several postings on the site have accused him of having a venereal disease. Hollis says the postings are false.

I saw these two face off on Dr. Phil one night — the owner of the Web site, and the guy who claims he was defamed. While I’m all for free speech, the attitude of the lady who owns the Web site really ticked me off.

I don’t know what it was exactly, but the woman was essentially proud of the fact that people had (purportedly) lied about this guy. It was almost that she knew he’s been defamed and didn’t give a rip. Furthermore she denied this guy’s right to even be upset about the fact that her Web site was incubating this discussion, even if it was false.

Maybe I just took the guy’s side, but I just bristled a little at the whole thing. Having a free, public forum is nice and all, but you have to at least care in the slightest about what’s going on there, even if the law is on your side.

I’ve taken down a comment thread on this site because someone wrote me and claimed they’d been libeled in it. There are other threads on the site that make me nervous, and that I would very much open to discussion if someone wrote me about them.