[200q20v] CA court rules message board postings "opinions" not fact

Brett Dikeman brett at cloud9.net
Wed Nov 28 19:19:49 EST 2001


Some quick snippets.
The appellate court found that postings on an Internet message board
constituted a "public forum," as defined in the anti-SLAPP statute.
The court further ruled the defendants posted opinions as
shareholders of ComputerXpress, not competitors, and the matter was
therefore "an issue of public interest."

As for the content of the postings, the court said they "certainly
could be considered disparaging," but found that, "their tone and
content identified them as statements of opinion and not fact."

The court said the postings presented as evidence by ComputerXpress
were, "hyperbolic, informal and lacked the characteristics of typical
fact-based documents."

In the Global Telemedia case, the court said that, unlike many
traditional media, there are no controls on the postings in chat
rooms. As a result, such writings are almost always opinions, and
therefore are protected under the First Amendment.

Which(thank god) fits with most folks' common sense(is Satan skating?
Pinch me.)

My personal thought...while this addresses issues relating to
liability and slander, what about negligence?(say, if I were to
advise someone to jack their car up and work under the car with just
the jack, ie "not bother with those silly safety precautions" and the
guy gets zonked*)

I'm divided on the topic myself; on one hand, people shouldn't give
out advice unless they're qualified, but OTOH, you should be taken
out of the gene pool if you just take the word of some goofball with
a computer :-)

To many an experienced lister, it comes like second nature to balance
the responses you get, take things with a grain of salt...but I often
wonder if the initial email sent to people should contain a little
blurb about this.

oh wait, what am I saying, nobody reads that email anyway :-)

*Billy Cosby definition of "Zonk."  If you've never heard his
"Medic!" sketch, its a gas....see if you can find it on one of the
filesharing services, and if you like it, buy one of the CDs of his
performances, it'll be the best money you ever spent, just don't try
to drive at the same time :-)
"They that give up essential liberty to obtain temporary
safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Ben Franklin
http://www.users.cloud9.net/~brett/bdikeman.asc	(PGP Public Key)

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