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In 1997, the Drudge Report, a free Internet gossip page hosted by America Online (AOL), reported that Sidney Blumenthal, a Clinton Administration aide, had a “spousal abuse past that [had] been effectively covered up.” Blumenthal and his wife then brought a defamation action against AOL and Matt Drudge, the operator of the Drudge Report. Although Drudge posted the content that appeared on the Drudge Report, AOL retained certain editorial rights in regard to the page. The Blumenthals took the position that the editorial rights retained by AOL made AOL a publisher of the Drudge Report’s that § 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act protected it against liability. Section 230 states that “[n]o provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” How did the court rule? Did AOL face potential liability under the common law of defamation, or did § 230 of the Communications Decency Act protect AOL against liability?

In 1997, the Drudge Report, a free Internet gossip page hosted by America Online (AOL), reported that Sidney Blumenthal, a Clinton Administration aide, had a “spousal abuse past that [had] been effectively covered up.” Blumenthal and his wife then brought a defamation action against AOL and Matt Drudge, the operator of the Drudge Report. Although Drudge posted the content that appeared on the Drudge Report, AOL retained certain editorial rights in regard to the page. The Blumenthals took the position that the editorial rights retained by AOL made AOL a publisher of the Drudge Report’s that § 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act protected it against liability. Section 230 states that “[n]o provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” How did the court rule? Did AOL face potential liability under the common law of defamation, or did § 230 of the Communications Decency Act protect AOL against liability?

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