BEIJING, Nov. 21 (Xinhuanet) -- Internet free speech
advocates scored a victory Monday when the California Supreme Court ruled
unanimously that bloggers and participants in Internet bulletin board groups
cannot be sued for posting defamatory statements made by others.
The court said a federal law grants immunity from
libel suits not only to Internet service providers, but also to bloggers and
other users of their services.
"Subjecting Internet service providers and users to
defamation liability would tend to chill online speech," the ruling
Internet free speech advocates,
had warned a contrary outcome could have affected users of newsgroups,
blogs, listservs, and bulletin boards who enter those forums to discuss the
views of others. A loss could even have jeopardized websites run by students to
evaluate their professors, said the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation
in friend of court briefs.
In Monday's ruling, the California Supreme court said
that granting such broad immunity for posting defamatory statements "has some
Nevertheless, the court said, "Until Congress chooses
to revise the settled law in this area" people who contend they were defamed on
the Internet can seek recovery only from the original source of the statement,
not from those who re-post it."