Friday, March 14, 2008

What do file-sharers have in common with discriminatory renters?

Answer: Not a secondary liability regime.

Eric Goldman blogged about the decision in Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law v. Craigslist, Inc., No. 07-1101 (7th Cir. March 14, 2008). He says, “I don’t think there’s much value to parsing [Judge Easterbrook’s] confusing statutory analysis” to figure out how the case comports with past Seventh Circuit precedent, and I won’t fight him on that, but there’s a sentence in the opinion that cries out for correction: “Grokster is incompatible with treating §230(c)(1) as a grant of comprehensive immunity from civil liability for content provided by a third party.”

What? Grokster is, as I recall, a copyright case. Section 230 explicitly excludes intellectual property law from its ambit. Grokster is neither compatible nor incompatible with any interpretation of §230; it is simply irrelevant. The fact that Judge Easterbrook doesn’t understand this suggests that his interest in efficient liability standards has distracted him from reading the relevant statutory text.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you mentioned this, Rebecca. I noticed it too, but didn't allude to it in my post. Unfortunately Judge Wood displayed a similar misunderstanding of the statute last month during oral argument. Kind of disappointing.