Ninth Circuit Affirms Google’s Section 230 Win Over a Negative Business Review–Black v. Google

By Eric Goldman

Black v. Google, Inc., 2011 WL 5188426 (9th Cir. Nov. 1, 2011). The complaint. The district court ruling.

The Blacks sued Google over a negative third party review of their business published in an unspecified Google property. This lawsuit was obviously preempted by 47 USC 230 from the get-go, so I easily fit my prediction of the case’s outcome into a tweet. In August 2010, the district court dismissed the lawsuit on Section 230 grounds in an efficient opinion.

The Ninth Circuit didn’t find this case any more challenging than the district court did. In a brief unpublished memo opinion, the court upheld the district court’s ruling. The main substantive sentence of the Ninth Circuit’s opinion:

The district court properly dismissed plaintiffs’ action as precluded by section 230(c)(1) of the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”) because plaintiffs seek to impose liability on Google for content created by a third party. See Fair Hous. Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommates.com, LLC, 521 F.3d 1157, 1162 (9th Cir. 2008) (en banc) (“Section 230 of the CDA immunizes providers of interactive computer services against liability arising from content created by third parties . . . .”); Carafano v. Metrosplash.com, Inc., 339 F.3d 1119, 1122 (9th Cir.

2003) (“Through [section 230 of the CDA], Congress granted most Internet services immunity from liability for publishing false or defamatory material so long as the information was provided by another party.”).