New Ebook on Zeran v. AOL, the Most Important Section 230 Case (Techdirt Cross-Post)

[Cross-posted from Techdirt]

Section 230 has become a mainstream discussion topic, but unfortunately many discussants don’t actually understand it well (or at all). To address this knowledge gap, co-editors Profs. Eric Goldman (Santa Clara Law) and Jeff Kosseff (U.S. Naval Academy) have released an ebook, called “Zeran v. America Online,” addressing many aspects of Section 230. You can download the ebook for free at:

Zeran v. AOL is the most important Section 230 case of all time. The Zeran case was the first federal appellate decision interpreting Section 230, and its breathtakingly broad sweep turbocharged the rise of Web 2.0–with all of its strengths and weaknesses.

In recognition of Zeran’s importance, in 2017, Profs. Goldman and Kosseff helped assemble an essay package to honor the case’s 20th anniversary. They gathered two dozen essays from some of the most knowledgeable Section 230 experts. The essays address the case’s history and policy implications. Initially, published the essay package but then unexpectedly paywalled the essays after 6 months.

The new Zeran v. America Online ebook restores the 2017 essay package into a new and easy-to-read format. Together, they are a great entry point into the debates about Section 230, including how we got here and what’s at stake.

To supplement the essay package, the ebook compiles an archive of the key documents in the Zeran v. AOL litigation (with bonus coverage of Zeran’s case against radio station KRXO). Many of these materials have not previously been publicly available in electronic format. The case archives should be of interest both to historians and students of precedent-setting litigation tactics.

Section 230 will likely remain hotly debated, but the debates won’t be productive until we develop a shared understanding of what the law says and why. Ideally, this ebook will advance those goals.

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The book’s table of contents:

About the Book

Advertisements Posted to AOL’s Michigan Military Movement Forum

The Essays

Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of Internet Law’s Most Important Judicial Decision
Eric Goldman and Jeff Kosseff

‘Zeran v. AOL’ and Its Inconsistent Legacy
Ian C. Ballon

Section 230 Keeps Platforms for Defamation and Threats Highly Profitable
Ann Bartow

Policy Architecture and Internet Freedom
Jerry Berman

Sex, Scandal and Intermediary Liability: Imagining Life Without ‘Zeran v. AOL’
Hillary Brill

How the Scam Artists at Stratton Oakmont Made ‘Zeran’ Possible and Unwittingly Saved the Internet
Robert J. Butler

Serendipity and Internet Law: How the ‘Zeran v. AOL’ Landmark Almost Wasn’t
Patrick J. Carome and Cary A. Glynn

20 Years of Protecting Intermediaries: Legacy of ‘Zeran’ Remains a Critical Protection for Freedom of Expression Online
Cindy Cohn and Jamie Williams

How the Supreme Court Ignored the Lesson of ‘Zeran’ and Screwed Up Copyright Law on the Internet
Roger Allan Ford

Moral Hazard on Stilts: ‘Zeran’s’ Legacy
Mary Anne Franks

The Possible Redundancy of §230
Brian L. Frye

The First Hard Case: ‘Zeran v. AOL’ and What It Can Teach Us About Today’s Hard Cases
Cathy Gellis

Who Cyber-Attacked Ken Zeran, and Why?
Eric Goldman

James Grimmelmann

The Satellite Has No Conscience: §230 in a World of ‘Alternative Facts’
Laura A. Heymann

The Non-Inevitable Breadth of the ‘Zeran’ Decision
Samir C. Jain

The Judge Who Shaped the Internet
Jeff Kosseff

Zeran’s Failed Lawsuit Against an Oklahoma Radio Station
Robert D. Nelon

The Chilling Effect Claims in ‘Zeran v. AOL’
Jonathon W. Penney

‘Zeran v. America Online’ and the Development of Trolling Culture
Aaron Schwabach

‘Zeran v. AOL’: The Anti-Circumvention Tool
Maria Crimi Speth

The UK’s Broad Rejection of the §230 Model
Gavin Sutter

‘AOL v. Zeran’: The Cyberlibertarian Hack of §230 Has Run Its Course
Olivier Sylvain

CDA 230 Then and Now: Does Intermediary Immunity Keep the Rest of Us Healthy?
Jonathan Zittrain

The Case Materials

Zeran v. AOL (W.D. Ok)

Zeran v. AOL (W.D. Ok)
Order on Motion to Transfer

Zeran v. AOL (E.D. Va)
Memorandum in Support of Defendant’s Motion For Judgment on the Pleadings

Zeran v. AOL (E.D. Va)
Brief in Opposition to Defendant’s Motion For Judgment on the Pleadings

Zeran v. AOL (E.D. Va)
Reply Memorandum in Further Support of Defendant’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings

Zeran v. AOL (E.D. Va) Court Hearing Transcript

Opinion in Zeran v. AOL (E.D. Va)

Zeran v. AOL (4th Cir.)
Brief of the Appellant

Zeran v. AOL (4th Cir.)
Brief of the Appellee

Zeran v. AOL (4th Cir.)

Zeran’s Petition for a Writ of Certiorari

Opposition of America Online, Inc. to Petition for a Writ of Certiorari

Zeran’s Reply to Opposition to Petition for a Writ of Certiorari

Zeran v. Diamond Broadcasting, Inc. (W.D. Ok)

Zeran v. Diamond Broadcasting, Inc. (10th Cir.)