Added: Debbie Widener - Date: 27.12.2021 12:43 - Views: 13299 - Clicks: 1422
Regulators and plaintiffs have been trying to eradicate online prostitution for a decade. These efforts have been partially hampered by 47 U. Intuitively, it might seem like Section should yield to efforts to suppress online prostitution and sex trafficking. However, Section protects vitally important free speech interests that deserve careful consideration as well. In a direct collision between these two important social interests, a federal appellate court gave online classified published Back.
Backpage f In this lawsuit, three young female victims of human trafficking sued Back. Their primary claim was based on the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of TVPRAwhich applies to anyone who "knowingly benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value from" human trafficking 18 U. As a for-profit publisher that accepted online prostitutionBack. However, this conclusion would hold Back. Section jurisprudence doesn't distinguish between and editorial content. The plaintiffs tried a familiar tactic backpage f work around this issue.
They argued they were suing Back. The plaintiffs specifically pointed to Back. Lycosthe court responded that "features that are part and parcel of the overall de and operation of the website" reflect Back. This holding is consistent with, and reaffirms, the principle that a website operator's decisions in structuring its website and posting requirements are publisher functions entitled to section c 1 protection To salvage their claims, the plaintiffs noted that Section e 1 excludes the enforcement of federal criminal laws, so it should exclude their civil TVPRA claim.
The court rejected this argument because Section e 1 only excludes federal criminal prosecutions, not civil lawsuits predicated on federal criminal law citing Doe v. Bates ; other appropriate citations could have included Obado v. MagedsonMA v. Village VoiceDart v. CraigslistGoDaddy v. Toups and Hinton v. Unfair Competition. The plaintiffs claimed that Back. The court responded that the plaintiffs can't show that the alleged misrepresentations caused their injuries. The court uses especially strong language about this claim, saying the plaintiffs' "causal chain is shot through with conjecture: it pyramids speculative inference upon speculative inference"; it relies on "rampant guesswork" and "is forged entirely out of surmise".
Section excludes intellectual property claims, so Section theoretically does not apply to the remaining two claims. The claims nevertheless failed because the court recognized them as attempts to end-run Section Publicity Rights. Publicity rights backpage f the unauthorized depiction of a person in an advertisement. Nominally, the doctrine applies to victims depicted in online prostitution. However, the court says Back.
Note: the court applied the publicity rights laws of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. California's publicity rights statute explicitly restricts publishers' liability for third party unless the publisher "had knowledge of the unauthorized use. After the ad was published, one of the victims registered the copyright to the photo depicting her. The court doesn't explain how she became the photo's copyright owner; either it was a selfie or she acquired the copyrights from the photographer.
However, the court can't find any damages attributable to the alleged copyright infringement. Nothing indicated that the ad publication diminished the value of the photograph's copyright; and the court can't see any link between Back. The appellants' core argument is that Back has tailored its website to make sex trafficking easier. Aided by the amici, the appellants have made a persuasive case for that proposition. But Congress did not sound an uncertain trumpet when it enacted the CDA, and it chose to grant broad protections to internet publishers. Showing that a website operates through a meretricious business model is not enough to strip away those protections.
Section plays a vital role for all user-generated content websites, and this is a powerful ruling for Section I expect it will be influential in future Section cases because:. The plaintiffs were victims of a heinous crime, and they were supported by a stellar cast of amici, including the Massachusetts attorney general, seven city attorneys, and several sex trafficking victims' advocacy groups. Courts often try to find some legal relief for sympathetic litigants, and future challenges to Section are unlikely to have such a strong group of plaintiffs. Courts in other locations can cite it as persuasive precedent.
Like many of the other appellate court rulings on Sectionthis opinion expressly says several times that Section should be construed or interpreted broadly. Defendants routinely quote these types of contextualization statements, and they often prove influential to other judges. This opinion does a brilliant job showing how those arguments are really the same.
That key holding should help defendants in numerous other cases implicating Section For example, Fields v. Twitter seeks to hold Twitter liable for ISIS's killing of an American because Twitter provides "material support" to a terrorist organization. The opinions treats an online publisher's product configuration choices as editorial choices. This implicitly rejects, or at least undermines, murky opinions like the Ninth Circuit's Roommates.
I expect this opinion will become defendants' standard citation to rebut future plaintiff citations to Roommates. Although other cases have held that Section preempts civil claims predicated on federal crimes, I believe this is the first published appellate opinion reaching that conclusion, so it will become the standard citation for this proposition. Because Section doesn't cover IP claims, we're seeing plaintiffs try a variety of IP claims to work around Section The court recognized the plaintiffs' workaround goal and refused to assist it.
In particular, I've ly blogged about plaintiffs purchasing copyrights to create an IP claim that would be otherwise foreclosed by Section Indeed, the First Circuit may revisit that issue in the pending Small Justice v. Xcentric appeal. This opinion further reduces the chances of Small Justice's success on appeal.
Finally, I also note that the opinion's author, Judge Selyais a highly cited judge, so his track record predicts this opinion will get additional attention. This ruling reinforces the power of Sectionbackpage f it hardly ends the decade-long battle over online prostitution.
A few years ago, several states enacted laws targeting the publication of online prostitution. Those lawsuits failed due, in part, to Section ; but those failures spurred many state attorneys general to ask Congress to amend Section so the AGs could crack down against online prostitution.
Congress responded to that request with deafening silence, but this ruling could easily motivate state AGs and other state and local officials to try again. Meanwhile, in a similar case against Back. This ruling's discussion about product configuration squarely undermines the Washington court's concerns about Back. Backpage f citation : Jane Doe No.
March 14, Before I became a…. Before I became a full-time professor inI practiced technology law in the Silicon Valley from This is a BETA experience. You may opt-out by clicking here. Feb 9,am EST. Feb 4,am EST. Jan 26,am EST.
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Big Win For Free Speech Online In Back Lawsuit