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Appeals Court Clears Yelp of Extortion Claims 63

Posted by timothy
from the 5-stars-for-marsha-berzon dept.
jfruh writes A U.S. appeals court cleared Yelp of charges of extortion related to its interaction with several small businesses who claim Yelp demanded that they pay for advertising or face negative reviews. While Yelp says it never altered a business rating for money, the court's finding was instead based on a strict reading of the U.S. extortion law, classifying Yelp's behavior as, at most, "hard bargaining." Interestingly, the EFF supported Yelp here, arguing that "Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) protects online service providers from liability and lawsuits over user-generated content, except in very narrow circumstances where the providers created or developed content themselves. In its amicus brief, EFF argued that mere conjecture about contributing content – like there was in this case – is not enough to allow a lawsuit to go forward."
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Appeals Court Clears Yelp of Extortion Claims

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  • by qbast (1265706) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @08:06AM (#47815841)
    "unless a person has a pre-existing right to be free of the threatened economic harm, threatening economic harm to induce a person to pay for a legitimate service is not extortion," appeals court judge Marsha Berzon wrote in the decision."

    So apparently nobody has pre-existing right to be free of smear campaign on Yelp.
  • Good... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @08:09AM (#47815857) Journal
    As much as I think Yelp are a bunch of abhuman bottom feeders who would do the world a favor if they caught fire, I am pleased by this one.

    Section 230 is a vital defense against a truly hellish legal climate on the internet, and I'd hate to see it be chipped away during a fight against an unsympathetic defendant.
  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @08:50AM (#47816115)

    My neighbor runs a small mom/pop type restaurant and he gets called about once a month by a yelp representative. He's got plenty of positive reviews on Yelp, but what they tell him is that if he pays yelp, they'll move the negative ones to the "not recommended reviews" list. Normally the only way to see this list is to scroll to the bottom and see a light grey link.

    How is this any different from what the mafia did with it's "Pay for protection" schemes...?

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