Sixth Circuit Considers Communications Decency Act and Adopts “Material Contribution” Test

reputationThe Sixth Circuit considered whether the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (“CDA”) bars state-law defamation claims. Jones v. Dirty World Entm’t. Recordings, LLC, et al., Case No. 13-5946 (6th Cir. June 16, 2014). The Court answered in the affirmative, and adopted the “material contribution” test to evaluate the scope of immunity conferred by section 230 of the CDA.

The CDA (a/k/a Title V of the Telecommunications Act of 1996) affects online communications in two ways. First, it is Congress’s first real attempt to regulate pornographic and indecent material on the Internet. Second, and relevant to the Dirty World decision, section 230(c)(1) of the CDA provides that, “[n]o provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” In other words, section 230 protects website operators from liability for the words of the third parties who use their online services. As explained by the Sixth Circuit in Dirty World, “Section 230 . . . immunizes providers of interactive computer services against liability arising from content created by third parties.” In addition to the protection afforded to Internet service providers, section 230 of the CDA diverges from the common-law rule that allocates liability to publishers or distributors of tortious material prepared by others. Specifically, section 230(e)(3) provides that “[n]o cause of action may be brought and no liability may be imposed under any State or local law that is inconsistent with this section.”

»» Read More

Posted by Erin Rhinehart
Advertising and Media
January 30, 2015

Ohio’s Twelfth District Court of Appeals Takes Another Bite Out of Ohio’s Public Records Act

public records2The walls seem to be closing in on Ohio’s Public Records Act in southwest Ohio. The Twelfth District Court of Appeals refused to order disclosure of hundreds of pages of documents regarding missing property from the Goshen Township Police Department that were turned over to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (“BCI”). The Community Journal, North Clermont v. Reed, 2014-Ohio-5745 (Dec. 30, 2014). This is the court’s second recent blow to the Act. See Miller v. Ohio State Highway Patrol, 2014-Ohio-2244 (finding, on remand from the Ohio Supreme Court, that police cruiser cam videos of sobriety tests are not public records).

In August 2013, the Clermont County Sherriff’s Office and the Goshen Township Chief of Police sought BCI’s help in investigating potential fraud by local law enforcement. BCI received documents from the police that it “assembled, compiled and maintained” for its investigation. A reporter for The Community Journal, North Clermont contacted BCI and requested permission to inspect the documents sent by the police department. BCI denied the request citing Ohio Rev. Code ¶149.43(A)(1)(h), the confidential law enforcement investigatory records exception. Specifically, BCI argued that the records were part of an ongoing investigation and release of the record would create a high probability of disclosure of specific investigatory work product.

»» Read More

Posted by Erin Rhinehart
Advertising and Media
January 16, 2015

Friends with Judges – Navigating the Ethical Minefield of Online Networking Between the Bench and Bar

judge on social mediaI recently published an article in the American Bar Association’s TYL publication regarding the ethical implications of connecting with judges on social media – Hypothetically Speaking . . . What if I’m Friends with a Judge on Facebook? While TYL is geared toward lawyers in practice 10 years or less, the topic is of import to practitioners of all ages and experience levels.

Since the inception of social media over a decade ago, and the ever-increasing popularity of sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, states have adopted various rules on whether an attorney may maintain a social media connection or friendship with a judge. While most states permit lawyers to connect with judges, a few states (e.g., California and Florida) prohibit judges from making online connections with lawyers who may appear before the judge in court.

»» Read More

Posted by Erin Rhinehart
Advertising and Media
December 9, 2014

Next Page »