This case parallels mine, exactly

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Posted by Jeff from LTU-207-73-65-124.LTU.EDU ( on Thursday, July 11, 2002 at 3:27PM :

The point of this case is that a woman who ran an internet usegroup (VERY similar to a message board) was sued because someone posted a defamatory message on the group that she ran.

I don't even run this forum, but if I did, I still wouldn't be responsible for the posts of others. Read below:

Joint Media Release
California Anti-SLAPP Project and Electronic Frontier Foundation

For Immediate Release - July 30, 2001


Mark Goldowitz, Director, California Anti-SLAPP Project (CASP)
510-835-0850 x305

Lee Tien, EFF Senior Staff Attorney
415-436-9333 x102

Ilena Rosenthal, defendant in Barrett v. Clark,
Director, Humantics Foundation
Breast Implants: Recovery & Discovery

Oakland, CA -- In a trail-blazing 27-page order, Alameda Superior Court
Judge James A. Richman dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed against a
breast implant awareness activist, finding that it was a meritless SLAPP
(Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). The court held that a
1996 federal law protects individuals from civil liability for posting to
an Internet newsgroup a statement created by another.

Ilena Rosenthal, Director of the Humantics Foundation in San Diego, was
sued for defamation based on her postings on Internet newsgroups. On July
25, 2001, Judge Richman granted Rosenthal's motion to dismiss the complaint
against her as a meritless SLAPP. Two self-proclaimed "Quackbusters,"
Stephen Barrett, M.D., of Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Terry Polevoy, M.D.,
of Canada, joined by their attorney and co-plaintiff, Christopher Grell, of
Oakland, California, filed suit against the activist.

Judge Richman found that none of the plaintiffs had valid claims against
Rosenthal. He ruled that Rosenthal's statements calling Barrett and
Polevoy "quacks," and Barrett "arrogant" and a "bully" who tried to
"extort" her, were not actionable because "they do not contain provably
false assertions of fact, but rather are expressions of subjective judgment."

Judge Richman further found that only one statement by Rosenthal was
arguably defamatory -- a document written by someone else which Rosenthal
re-posted to an Internet newsgroup. Judge Richman held that this statement
by Rosenthal was protected under section 230 of the federal Communications
Decency Act (CDA), a law Congress enacted in 1996 expressly "to promote the
continued development of the Internet and other interactive computer
services," which Congress declared should be "unfettered by Federal or
State regulation."

Judge Richman held that section 230 of the CDA "provides immunity to users,
as well as providers, of interactive computer services." He found that
Rosenthal, "as a user of an interactive computer service, that is, a
newsgroup, . . . is not the publisher or speaker" of statements made by a
third person. Thus, Judge Richman concluded, "she cannot be civilly liable
for posting it on the Internet. She is immune."

Mark Goldowitz, counsel for defendant Rosenthal and the Director of the
California Anti-SLAPP Project, said, "Judge Richman's opinion is
significant. To my knowledge, this is the first court to rule that
Internet re-posting is immune from civil liability under federal law. This
ruling greatly advances freedom of speech on the Internet. Also, it is
very rare for a trial court judge to issue anything even close to a 27-page

Lee Tien, Senior Staff Attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation
(EFF), a leading Internet civil liberties organization, said "in enacting
section 230, Congress tried to protect free speech on the Internet from
chilling threats of costly litigation. This decision will help achieve
that goal and marks a solid victory for free expression. Internet speech
would be stifled if individuals could be found liable for the defamatory
statements of others."

Ilena Rosenthal, one of several defendants named in this high-profile
Internet libel case, heads an international support group for women harmed
by breast implants. Rosenthal believes that this suit, one of several the
so-called "Quackbusters" have filed against critics of their tactics, has
been used to intimidate and threaten others into silence for fear of being
named as a "Doe" in this lawsuit. "They are a dominant threat to
alternative and complementary medical practices and practitioners,"
Rosenthal said. "Their campaigns obstruct health freedom and attempt to
chill the voices of their critics and opponents."

For a copy of Judge Richman's 27-page opinion in Barrett v. Clark:
(For Judge Richman's discussion of section 230 of the CDA, see pages 17-20.)

For a copy of section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S.C. Sec.

For a copy of memoranda filed in support of Rosenthal's special motion to

About CASP:

The California Anti-SLAPP Project (CASP) is a public interest organization
dedicated to the eradication of SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public
Participation) in California. Founded in 1991, CASP has led a broad
coalition for anti-SLAPP legislation, which resulted in enactment of
California's pioneering legislation to protect against SLAPPs in 1992, and
amendments to strengthen the law's protections in 1997 and 1999. CASP
monitors implementation of the anti-SLAPP law and assists SLAPP targets and
their attorneys with use of the law. For more information about CASP and

About EFF:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a leading civil liberties
organization working to protect rights in the digital world. Founded in
1990, EFF actively encourages and challenges industry and government to
support free expression, privacy, and openness in the information
society. EFF is a member supported organization and maintains one of the
most linked-to Web sites in the world:

About defendant Ilena Rosenthal:

For more information about defendant Ilena Rosenthal and her work on breast
implant awareness, email her at See also:
(Breast Implants: The Myths, The Facts, The Women, by Ilena Rosenthal
[information booklet])
(article on saline implants in Glamour Magazine, November 2000)
(Breast Implants, America's Silent Epidemic, in Total Health Magazine,
November-December 2000)

-- Jeff
-- signature .

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