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DiMeo v. Max, 433 F.Supp.2d 523 (E.D. Pa. 2006) (full-text).
Factual Background Edit
Plaintiff is a party promoter who threw a New Year’s Eve party that ended very badly. Guests became angry when food and alcohol ran out and police were eventually called. The defendant runs a website which hosts a number of message boards that allow Internet users to post anonymous comments on different topics. One of these topics was the promoter’s New Year’s Eve party.
After the party, there were numerous comments posted on these message boards about the event and the plaintiff himself. Many of these postings were “laden with vulgarity”. The promoter sued the publisher for six postings he found offensive and claimed that the publisher through his website published defamatory statements aimed at the promoter.
District Court Proceedings Edit
The primary issue was whether Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (47 U.S.C. §230) bars the claim. The court found that because Max's website was an "Interactive computer service — it was a “service” that “enabled computer access” by multiple users to a computer server — the publisher’s website was a “provider.” In addition, the publisher did not create the anonymous posts, and therefore, those posts were "information provided by another information content provider." Thus, Section 230 barred the promoter's claim. The publisher’s motion to dismiss was granted.