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Censorship The Courts Your Rights Online

Court Rules Website Doesn't Have To Remove Defamatory Comments 145

DustyShadow writes "In the case of Blockowicz v. Williams, The US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals refused to force Ripoff Report to remove allegedly defamatory comments posted by a user. The Ripoff Report has a well-publicized no-takedown policy, even if the author wants to remove his/her post, so the Ripoff Report refused. The Blockowiczs then claimed that the Ripoff Report violated FRCP 65(d) because the Ripoff Report was 'in active concert or participation' with the initial posters by refusing the injunction's removal order. The district court (and the Court of Appeals) disagreed with the Blockowiczs. Absent the 'active concert or participation,' the website was outside the court's control. Ripoff Report has released a statement concerning this case: 'In keeping with our core mission of protecting speech to the fullest extent of the law, we decided that it was not just our right but also our duty to ask questions and dig deeper before we could comply with such an order. Other sites claim they support free speech, but when the going gets rough, they will usually protect their bottom line rather than the Constitutional rights and freedoms this country was founded upon. Unlike other sites, even when the speech involved is harsh or negative and even if our position sometimes generates negative press for us, we think that the First Amendment requires us to put our principles before our pocketbook and fight against censorship.'"
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Court Rules Website Doesn't Have To Remove Defamatory Comments

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  • by Kid Zero ( 4866 ) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @04:35PM (#34702954) Homepage Journal

    They fought to protect a statement found false in federal court? Why keep it up then if it isn't true in the first place? I can understand the whole "We didn't have our day in court" deal, but it's a lie to start with. You won, but you're still publishing a lie, at least of some sort.

  • by pem ( 1013437 ) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @04:53PM (#34703146)
    I think you yourself are misunderstanding the article and position of the website.

    Their position is that the first amendment prohibits others from forcing them to take the defamatory material down. Nowhere did they claim that any law required that they themselves had to leave it up. And, BTW, they apparently did make some minor edits to the article for the exact reason you cite.

  • by Lunix Nutcase ( 1092239 ) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @04:57PM (#34703188)

    Its right to fight censorship and oppression even when it targets the fringe.

    And by "fringe" you mean defamers? A type of speech that has never been ruled to be protected by the 1st amendment? Not to mention that common law tradition stretches back hundreds of years prior with precedents declaring that defamation can carry civil and/or criminal penalties?

  • Re:Precedent (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Weezul ( 52464 ) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @05:19PM (#34703408)

    Precedent isn't exactly so black and white. If there is no contravening SCOTUS decision, then other lawyers will cite this decision and judges will evaluate it's relevance. Those other judges are always free to disagree, but they'll get slapped down if they're under any circuit court who's affirmed a similar decision.

    There is also legal scholarship wherein this decision gets further analyzed, likely strengthening it. All that discussion can be brought to bear on future cases.

    SCOTUS need not necessarily ever consider issues that lower courts have resolved satisfactorily & consistently. If however the circuit courts are split on an issue, then SCOTUS will invariably take up their favorite appeals, thus forcing all the lower courts into agreement.

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