Federal court: blogs not liable for their commenter's libel
There's a hilarious case in Philadelphia that's managed to generate some important case law on blogs.
First, the backstory: Tucker Max runs a blog chronicling big parties, etc. Anthony DiMeo runs a party-planning business. DiMeo allegedly organized a New Year's Eve party that charged attendees $100 - but ran out of booze before midnight. Many of those angry attendees dropped by Tucker's website - and complained about DiMeo. DiMeo sues Tucker for libel.
Or, as the judge put it in the opening stanza of his decision:
"Tucker Max describes himself as an aspiring celebrity 'drunk' and [#$%hole] who uses his Web site, tuckermax.com, to 'share [his] adventures with the world.' Anthony DiMeo III, who says he is an heir and co-owner of a large New Jersey blueberry farm, threw a New Year's Eve party this past December that, apparently, ended in a shambles."
Now, the ruling. From Law.com:
Bloggers cannot be hit with libel suits on the basis of anonymous postings on their Web sites because federal law grants them immunity by explicitly stating that they cannot be treated as the "publisher" of such comments, a federal judge has ruled. ...
Of course, true to form, celebrity drunk Tucker Max hailed the decision:
"The judge's decision is awesome. It has all the great elements: It quotes hilarious posts from my message board about DiMeo, it mocks and derides DiMeo and his dumbass lawyer, and most importantly it completely and totally reaffirms basically all the tenets of free speech that DiMeo was challenging," Max wrote.
Hat tip to Jack Bogdanski, law professor and blogger extraordinaire.
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