Websites vs the Court

Are you libel for what you put on your website? Well according to a recent court ruling by the California Supreme Court, it turns out that you may be immune from it all. A California woman was sued by two doctors who claimed that she posted on two websites an libelous e-mail. However, the court ruled in favor of free speech and set a precedent on website owners being sued. This suit benefits big name companies that operate and offer online services, such as American Online, Amazon.com, Yahoo, eBay, and Microsoft — all who have sided with the defendant in this somewhat milestone lawsuit.

Confused as to what the rule of libel lawsuits are? The CNN.com article stated that “unless Congress revises the existing law, people who claim they were defamed in an Internet posting can only seek damages from the original source of the statement...”. Moreover, through the Communications Decency Act of 1996, broad immunity was provided from defamation lawsuits for people who publish information on the Internet that was gathered from another source.

Basically this case proved that those opinions posted on message boards or published on websites that were not created by the message creator is immune from any civil suits. However, if you are the owner of a website and write something spiteful and hurtful…perhaps libelous, then you can be the subject of a lawsuit seeking damages and justice.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the stories of the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently the Technology Editor at Flipboard, where he observes what's happening in the space while also identifying new topics of interest. In addition, he co-hosts the weekly internet show "The Created Economy," which focuses on what's happening to creators and influencers. Previously, he was a reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding. Ken also has a newsletter you should also subscribe to called "Filed."