Ripoff Report Gets Mixed 230 Ruling–Children of America v. Magedson

By Eric Goldman

Children of America, Inc. v. Magedson, CV 2007-003720 (Arizona Superior Ct. Oct. 24, 2007)

In a ruling reminiscent of Hy Cite v. badbusinessbureau, an Arizona trial court dismissed a plaintiff’s defamation claims against Ripoff Report based on third party content, but didn’t dismiss the claims that alleged Ripoff Report wrote the content. This is the correct application of 47 USC 230 on a motion to dismiss, but now the plaintiff has to show that the defendant authored the content in question, and the court says ominously “Should Plaintiff be unable to prove that Defendants authored any actionable statement, the remainder of this case will likely be susceptible to resolution by way of summary judgment.”

While the court reaches the right result, the court gets goofy when it says “published case law construing [47 USC 230] is surprisingly scant.” It’s only surprising if you don’t do thorough research. Heck, the Ripoff Report has generated at least a half-dozen reported opinions itself.

One final point of interest. The court says confidently “Nor can [defendants] face liability for their actions in promoting the site, organizing its content, making the contents more accessible on search engines or soliciting contributions of content.” While the court doesn’t cite the opinion, it seems to be going out of its way to reject Kozinski’s opinion.