Defamation Lawsuit Deterred by “Wikimmunity”

One of the more interesting pieces in the most recent Harvard Journal of Law and Technology is “Wikimmunity,” by recent Harvard Law grad (and friend of Berkman) Ken Myers. Ken’s article explores how Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (also the subject of my recent Doe v. MySpace post) acts, or should act, to protect sites like Wikipedia against third-party liability for defamatory or disparaging posts by their users. This topic was also the subject of a panel discussion at last summer’s Wikimania 2006 conference.

Today comes word (via /. and The Smoking Gun, which has a copy of the complaint) of a new defamation lawsuit filed by a disgruntled pro golfer, angered by insinuations of drug abuse and domestic violence that were added to his Wikipedia biography by persons unknown. The named defendant in the lawsuit? Not Wikipedia, whom the plaintiff acknowledges is immune, but the registered owner of the IP address used to make the defamatory edits. Seems like a pretty strong vindication of Ken’s analysis that the plaintiff elected not even to test the reach of Section 230 in the case!

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