Saturday, March 15, 2008

US district court judge rules websites not responsible for comments

It's a tiny article buried on a back page in today's Wall Street Journal, but its impact on the blogosphere could be momentous: The US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Craigslist "cannot be held responsible for what its users post on its site."

In February 2006, Craigslist was sued by the Chicago Lawyers' Committee claiming that the site violated the Fair Housing Act by publishing discriminatory housing postings. Yesterday, a US District Court judge affirmed a lower court's decision that Craigslist "is not the author of the ads and could not be treated as the 'speaker' of the posters' words."

Given recent controversy on this blogging circuit regarding the parameters of socially responsible posting, this ruling should come as welcome news. Only--would that it had been instituted to protect posts worthier of defense than rental ads stipulating "no minorities."

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