Friday, February 6, 2004
EBay Not Liable for Defamatory Comment—C.A.
By a MetNews Staff Writer
An Internet auction site cannot be held liable for refusing to remove defamatory comments provided by one user about another, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled yesterday.
In an unpublished opinion for Div. Three, Justice Walter Croskey said that eBay, Inc. is an “interactive computer service” within the meaning of 47 U.S.C. Sec. 230. The statute immunizes such services from liability that might be imposed as “the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”
The court upheld the dismissal of eBay from a suit by Roger M. Grace, who also sued Hollywood memorabilia dealer Tim Neeley after the Web site operator refused to remove negative comments Neeley made after selling Grace six vintage entertainment magazines.
According to the Grace’s complaint, Neeley said Grace “should be banned from eBay,’’ and was “dishonest all the way’’ for alleging in the online forum that the magazines he bought had arrived late and in a worse condition than advertised.
Grace, who is editor and co-publisher of the MetNews, said the appellate panel had “missed the salient point.” The statute, he noted, defines “interactive computer service” to mean “any information service, system, or access software provider that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server....”
A website “is on a server,” Grace insisted, and does not “provide or enable” access to the server.
The case is Grace v. eBay, Inc., B168765.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company