DiMeo v. Max Affirmed by Third Circuit

By Eric Goldman

DiMeo v. Max, 2007 WL 2717865 (3rd Cir. Sept. 19, 2007)

You may recall the 2006 47 USC 230 ruling in DiMeo v. Max. The opinion was an instant Cyberlaw classic. Why? Among other credentials: the case involved an angry mob that formed after the alcohol ran out early at a party; the defendant self-describes himself as a “raging dickhead;” and the district court opinion quotes user comments such as what someone might look like if he was “getting fisted by an angry gorilla.” And, more substantively, the ruling cleanly stands for the proposition that message board operators (and, by inference, bloggers) aren’t liable for user-posted comments.

The Third Circuit has affirmed the district court in a brief and unremarkable ruling. It isn’t the first time the Third Circuit has opined on 230 (see Green v. AOL from 2003), and the opinion does not break any new ground. The opinion efficiently says the website was an ICS, the complaint alleges publication, and DiMeo didn’t allege that Max wrote the postings, so this is a textbook application of 47 USC 230. The only “remarkable” aspect is that the Third Circuit–fortunately–doesn’t cite to the Roommates.com opinion at all.