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Federal judge strikes down suit against Craigslist
By Rebecca Fiss Jul 01 2009, 05:24 AM

In an outrageous fit of complete reasonableness, the federal court has ruled that online classified ads are not that much different than the kinds you might be able to turn pages with, or might see posted to a coffee house cork board. The message is clear. The technophiliac activism of the federal judiciary is clearly spiraling rapidly out of control.

As if there wasn’t enough suspicion surrounding Internet personal services and already, we’ve been recently nudged even further along the path toward utter fear of communication technology by news pieces such as that of the so-called “Craigslist killer,” who was accused of bumping off a 26-year-old masseuse that he met in the “exotic services” section back in April.
Clearly, the blame rests with the provider of the ad, as opposed to its author, mastermind conspirators, or even the reader themselves. Which raises profound questions about the responsibilities of a techno-capable readership in handling clearly shady material, especially with the clearly posted warnings leering at them from the top of the screen. In short: does the modern internet-savvy public still have a right to their naivete?
Fortunately for the website, and for fans of cool-headed rational thinking in general, Southern District Judge Richard M. Berman doesn’t agree that Craigslist is culpable. The federal judge dismissed a lawsuit last month that blamed the site for a June 2008 shooting by Jesus Ortiz, the victim’s schizophrenic neighbor.
Calvin Gibson, a boutique owner, survived the ordeal and subsequently tried to sue Craigslist for $10 million, complaining that the site was “either unable or unwilling to allocate the necessary resources to monitor, police, maintain and properly supervise the goods and services” sold there and also requesting the "appointment of a federal monitor" to keep guns from being advertised. (Not to mention, you should see the exaggerations they let fly in those real estate ads! Walking distance to the Metro, my ass.)
Judge Berman dismissed the case on the grounds that Craigslist has immunity as an Internet service provider under the Communications Decency Act of 1996, 47 U.S.C. §230, which states that "no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as a publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."
"We weren't seeing Craigslist as a publisher,” Paul B. Dalnocky, Gibson’s attorney, responded. “We were seeing it as a regular business that should have monitored its business better. I mean, how can you run a business with millions of ads and have only 25 employees monitoring it?" If this is the problem, then what is the logical remedy? A quota for employee-to-customer ratio? Who could avoid slipping on that slope?
None too happy that the case was being dismissed, the plaintiff played the empathy card. The fact that the Craigslist didn’t offer any financial compensation, according to a plaintiff's statement, clearly showed that it “cares not a whit about the misery is causes.” Craigslist, the plaintiff wrote, is a “robber-baron” and “must be immediately regulated or shut down.”
The plaintiff, who acknowledged that "the content of the ad placed upon defendant's website was not, in itself, objectionable,” was fairly vague in specifying what kind of regulations it was shooting for. The plaintiff's argument, therefore, as explained, is that Craigslist should go even beyond reading each posting — or allowing users to flag them — and investigate each one to make sure the proposed transaction is not secretly illegal or dangerous.

Even without the potential $10 million in damages called for in the suit, losing the case would have crippled Craigslist's ability to function as the efficient “free market” celebrated in the Communications Decency Act; the online classifieds giant, which the Act says will be able to exist “unfettered by Federal or State regulation,” owes Judge Berman its skin. Everyone who's ever secured housing, cheap consumer goods or even inter-personal relationships through this service should heave a gigantic sigh of relief.

"no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as a publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."

Accordingly....when 157blogspot provides a story written by Crains or any other publisher or content provider, liability does not attach nor can he be brought up on phony charges by the DC's President under this precedent or under any other first amendment or free speech claim or right, all of which clearly & unequivocally trump the venerable "UBC Constitution". Despite decades of known precedent and landmark cases, the UBCJA refuses to expunge (on a line item basis) policies long held to be illegal per Board, Appellate Court & Supreme Court case law.

Game, Set, Match!