Two US academics, Eric Goldman and Jeff Kosseff, have put together an interesting collection of articles on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and, to mark the twentieth anniversary of the pivotal decision in Zeran v AOL – which they describe as “internet law’s most important decision“.
In 1996, Congress enacted a law, 47 U.S.C. §230, to immunize websites from liability for third-party content. The decision in Zeran v. America Online, Inc., 129 F.3d 327, 330 (4th Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 524 U.S. 937 (1998) interpreted the section very broadly, providing liability immunity even when online publishers exercise editorial control over third party content and even when the online publisher fails to respond to takedown notices.
As Goldman and Kosseff point out, this opinion has had an enormous influence leading US courts to apply statutory immunity expansively.
There are twenty three articles. We draw particular attention to “The UK’s Broad Rejection of the §230 Model” by Gavin Sutter, Senior Lecturer in Media Law and a member of the Institute of Computer and Communications Law at the Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary University of London.
The other articles are as follows:
“‘Zeran v. AOL’ and Its Inconsistent Legacy” by Ian Ballon
“Policy Architecture and Internet Freedom” by Jerry Berman
“Sex, Scandal and Intermediary Liability: Imagining Life Without ‘Zeran v. AOL’” by Hillary Brill
“Serendipity and Internet Law: How the ‘Zeran v. AOL’ Landmark Almost Wasn’t” by Patrick J. Carome and Cary A. Glynn
“20 Years of Protecting Intermediaries: Legacy of ‘Zeran’ Remains a Critical Protection for Freedom of Expression Online” by Cindy Cohn and Jamie Williams
“Moral Hazard on Stilts: ‘Zeran’s’ Legacy” by Mary Anne Franks
“The Possible Redundancy of §230” by Brian L. Frye
“Who Cyber-Attacked Ken Zeran, and Why?” by Eric Goldman
“No ESC” by James Grimmelmann
“The Satellite Has No Conscience: §230 in a World of ‘Alternative Facts’” by Laura A. Heymann
“The Non-Inevitable Breadth of the ‘Zeran’ Decision” by Samir C. Jain
“The Judge Who Shaped the Internet” by Jeff Kosseff
“Zeran’s Failed Lawsuit Against an Oklahoma Radio Station” by Robert Nelon
“The Chilling Effect Claims in ‘Zeran v. AOL’” by Jonathon W. Penney
“‘Zeran v. America Online’ and the Development of Trolling Culture” by Aaron Schwabach
“‘Zeran v. AOL’: The Anti-Circumvention Tool” by Maria Crimi Speth
“‘AOL v. Zeran’: The Cyberlibertarian Hack of §230 Has Run Its Course“ by Olivier Sylvain
“CDA 230 Then and Now: Does Intermediary Immunity Keep the Rest of Us Healthy?” By Jonathan Zittrain