Topix Protected by 47 USC 230–Price v. Gannett

By Eric Goldman

Price v. Gannett Co., 2012 WL 1570972, (S.D. W. Va. May 1, 2012)

This is a pro se case. The plaintiffs alleged that pseudonymous posters made defamatory and otherwise tortious remarks about the plaintiffs on Topix. The court has zero difficulty tossing the case on a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. The court’s analysis:

Plaintiffs have alleged all three elements [of a 230 defense] in their complaint as Topix is a website where users post comments. Plaintiffs have admitted in the complaint that the unknown individuals provided the statements, not Topix. It is also clear that Plaintiffs are treating Topix as the publisher.

If the plaintiffs weren’t pro se, this would be a logical case for the judge to issue sanctions against the plaintiffs for bringing such an obviously unmeritorious claim.

This is at least the second time Topix has qualified for the 47 USC 230 immunity. See my post on the first case, Hopkins v. Doe, which similarly involved a pro se suing over pseudonymous posts and led to an equally emphatic defense win.