Another Ripoff Report Win–A-1 Technology v. Magedson

By Eric Goldman

[Note: I have a thick blogging queue of cases to tackle, so if I haven’t gotten to your recent favorites yet, a post may still be coming.]

A-1 Technology, Inc. v. Magedson, 150033/10 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. June 22, 2011)

After a while, the Ripoff Report cases all start blurring together. The plaintiffs try the same tired arguments, the courts reject them as they should, and we all experience a little deja vu. This case involves 2 postings to Ripoff Report (from 2006 and 2009) that were allegedly defamatory of a New York company. The Ripoff Report defended on several grounds, including lack of personal jurisdiction, the statute of limitations (1 year for defamation cases in NY) and 47 USC 230.

The 230 discussion is appropriately efficient. The court cites the recent Shiamili ruling (in my queue to blog) for the proposition that 47 USC 230 bars defamation actions “even when the website provider exercises traditional editorial control, including the reposting of the comments of third-parties and providing headings, subheadings and illustrations.” The court also rejects the 47 USC 230 immunity would change if Ripoff Report allegedly charged for removing posts.

The court also dismisses the case for lack of personal jurisdiction, following the general rule that simply publishing defamatory material online doesn’t automatically confer jurisdiction in the plaintiff’s home court. Finally, the court also dismisses any claim for the 2006 post based on the statute of limitations plus the single publication rule as articulated in Firth v. State, an early New York case interpreting the single-publication rule online.