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CMPLAW-L  July 1997

CMPLAW-L July 1997

Subject:

Re: Editorial Control and the WWW as Public Forum

From:

DAY <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Internet and Computer Law Association <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 30 Jul 1997 14:41:21 -0500

Content-Type:

TEXT/PLAIN

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

TEXT/PLAIN (41 lines)

On Wed, 30 Jul 1997, Emily Christensen wrote:

> That is, I wonder if taking action to block a user from the
> board for a) clearly breaking a law (i.e. invasion of privacy or
> defamation) or b) breaking a more specific "user agreement" (i.e.
> excessive profanity) would legally constitute "editorial control" over
> the bulliten board. The defamation/invasion of privacy/profanity would
> not be erased or edited, but the user would not have the opportunity to
> contribute comments at out bulliten board again.
>
The decision in the Zeran case makes "editorial control" a mute point. The
CDA presumably protects the ISP or forum provider as long as those
individuals were not involved in the CREATION of the offending material.
Relying on one case (Zeran) for protection is tenuous, but for now its all
we've got for the Internet. I am not aware of any related cases in
traditional media, though I'm sure there are some out there.

2) Is there any legal precedent for claiming privately owned bulliten
> boards or chat halls as a public forum? The Supreme Court has stated
> that private property *may be considered* a public forum (this was over
> the shopping center case, the name of which I would have to look up).
>
I too had heard reference to a case in which a shopping mall was
considered a public forum. I've never been able to track down such a case.
If anyone has a citation, please share it. My First Amendment references
say private forums don't have to extend First Amendment principles to
participants.

Also, public forums are created over years or decades of use for the
purpose of public exchange of ideas. The Supreme Court has never
automatically extended the public forum designation to new mediums.

The Internet is a new medium. We are pioneers in this new medium. It will
take many years of case law before a clear picture of "dos and don'ts" is
established. Until then, we must traverse a minefield and try not to blow
ourselves up.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++
David NL Day
[log in to unmask]
+++++++++++++++++++++++++

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