New 47 USC 230 case–Roskowski v. Corvallis Police Officers’ Association

Roskowski v. Corvallis Police Officers’ Association, 2005 WL 555398 (D. Ore. Mar. 9, 2005). Messy disputes between the former Corvallis Chief of Police and the police officer’s association. The Association set up a website to disseminate its gripes with the chief and allowed anyone to post messages there. Unsurprisingly, some of the messages were unflattering.

The chief sued the association (and others) for the negative posts to the website under a false light/invasion of privacy claim. The association claimed 47 USC 230. The court dispatches this part of the claim fairly efficiently. The court cites Stoner and Schneider as precedent that websites are interactive computer services, and the chief used the word “publication” in her complaint, so the court applies the law to false light/invasion of privacy claims (in some sloppiness, the court references defamation here).

However, were the postings provided by “another information content provider”? This should have been an easy inquiry (there’s plenty of precedent on this point). However, the court confirms that the association wasn’t responsible for the postings because it “had no control over who posted or what was posted over the website.” Implicitly using this standard suggests that the court would have been receptive to the arguments made by the Barrett and Grace plaintiffs. Of course, some of us would take the position that the association wouldn’t be liable even if they did have “control” over the posts. See, e.g., Blumenthal v. Drudge, Ramey v. Darkside Productions.

Thanks to InternetCases.com for pointing this case out.

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