GoDaddy Gets Important Section 230 Win in Second Circuit--Ricci v. Teamsters Union Local 456

GoDaddy Gets Important Section 230 Win in Second Circuit–Ricci v. Teamsters Union Local 456

Photo credit: enameled house number two hundred and thirty // ShutterStock

Photo credit: enameled house number two hundred and thirty // ShutterStock

GoDaddy won a Section 230 case in the Second Circuit. It’s a short and efficient ruling, but it’s a published opinion and the court says it’s the first Second Circuit opinion on Section 230 (I haven’t double-checked), which makes it a noteworthy Section 230 win.

The case involves a dispute among Teamster Union members. Some Union members posted critical remarks about the plaintiffs to a website, westchesternewsletter.com, hosted on GoDaddy’s servers. The court makes three key points:

1) There can only be one defendant for those newsletter remarks: “a plaintiff defamed on the internet can sue the original speaker, but typically “cannot sue the messenger.”” Cf. the uncited Novins v. Cannon.

2) GoDaddy, the web host, isn’t that single defendant because it didn’t have “any role in creating the allegedly defamatory newsletters.” The plaintiffs allege that GoDaddy hosted the newsletter, refused to remove it, and refused to investigate the plaintiffs’ complaints. The court responds:

The Riccis allege only that GoDaddy “refused to remove” from its web servers an allegedly defamatory newsletter that was authored by another. These allegations do not withstand the Communications Decency Act, which shields GoDaddy from publisher liability (with respect to web content provided by others) in its capacity as a provider of an interactive computer service.

3) GoDaddy can win a Section 230 defense on a motion to dismiss:

Although “[p]reemption under the Communications Decency Act is an affirmative defense, … it can still support a motion to dismiss if the statute’s barrier to suit is evident from the face of the complaint.” Here, the defect is evident. So dismissal was appropriate.

While none of these findings are novel or earth-shattering, having them as citable Second Circuit precedent is a noteworthy win for all of us.

Case citation: Ricci v. Teamsters Union Local 456, 781 F.3d 25 (2d Cir. March 18, 2015).

GoDaddy has appeared frequently on this blog, including important Section 230 wins in the Texxxan and Kruska cases.

* Revenge Porn Is Bad, But It’s Not GoDaddy’s Fault
* Ninth Circuit Kills Contributory ACPA Cybersquatting Doctrine–Petronas v. GoDaddy
* Trademark Owner Can’t Hold GoDaddy Liable for Domain Name Forwarding — Berhad v. GoDaddy
* GoDaddy Mismanages Its User Agreements–Crabb v. GoDaddy
* GoDaddy can be Held Liable for Wrongly Transferring Control Over Domain Name and Email Accounts — Eysoldt v. ProScan
* GoDaddy Sued for Cybersquatting for Parked Domain Names–uBid v. GoDaddy
* GoDaddy Gets 230 Defense for Web Hosting–Kruska v. Perverted Justice Foundation