Barrett v. Rosenthal Oral Arguments Scheduled for September 5

By Eric Goldman

The California Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments in Barrett v. Rosenthal for September 5 at 2 pm in San Francisco. See the case record here. This case has the potential to define, as binding California precedent and as persuasive precedent elsewhere, whether or not 47 USC 230 preempts “distributor” liability as well as publisher liability. It’s very possible that the Supreme Court will sidestep that question to resolve the case on its facts, but if the court does address the distributor v. publisher question, this case could be the most significant 47 USC 230 opinion since Zeran. At minimum, if the court says directly or indirectly that 230 doesn’t preempt distributor liability, expect widespread rejoicing among the plaintiff’s bar and a slew of new lawsuits against every intermediary that hosts user content.

I am planning to attend the hearing. If anyone else is going, please email me offline. If anyone knows how to get into a Supreme Court hearing, please email me offline.