Friday, January 15, 2010

Fourth Circuit Says Consumer Web site Entitled to CDA Immunity

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The Web site is immune from claims of defamation and interference with advantageous business relations for 20 postings concerning a class-action suit against an auto dealer under the Communications Decency Act of 1996 ["CDA",47 U.S.C. sec. 230(c)(1)], according to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

In Nemet Chevrolet Ltd. & Thomas Nemet d/b/a Nemet Motors v., Inc. (Case No. 08-2097), the 4th Circuit said the Web site was an "interactive computer service," not an "information content provider," and thus, was entitled to protection under Sec. 230(c)(1), which provides: "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 provider." 

The plaintiffs argued that the structure and design of the Web site and the Web site's participation in preparing 20 consumer complaints at issue exempted the defendant from CDA immunity. The appellate court, in upholding U.S. District Court Judge for the E.D. of Virginia Gerald Lee's allowance of defendant's motion to dismiss, said the plaintiffs' allegations were conclusory and failed to intimate contributed to the allegedly fraudulent nature of the 20 comments at issue.
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