Stratton Oakmont Inc v Prodigy Services Co: 1995

(New York) The defendant computer network company held itself out as having editorial control over notes posted on its bulletin board, imposed content guidelines on its users by prescreening notes for offensive language, and permitted board leaders to delete notes that did not meet guideline requirements.
Held: It was liable to be sued as ‘publisher’ of defamatory statements posted on its bulletin board. Ain J said: ‘A computerised database is the functional equivalent of a more traditional news vendor, and the inconsistent application of a lower standard of liability to an electronic news distributor such as CompuServe than that which is applied to a public library, book store, or newstand would impose an undue burden on the free flow of information.’ and ‘That such control is not complete and is enforced both as early as the notes arrive and as late as a complaint is made, does not minimise or eviscerate the simple fact that PRODIGY has uniquely arrogated to itself the role of determining what is proper for its members to post and read on its bulletin boards. Based on the foregoing, this Court is compelled to conclude that for the purposes of plaintiffs’ claims in this action, PRODIGY is a publisher rather than a distributor’

Ain J
(1995) 23 Media L Rep 1794, (1995) 63 US Law Week 2765, [1995] NY Misc Lexis 229
United States
CitedCubby Inc v CompuServe Inc 1991
(United States) Leisure DJ said: ‘CompuServe develops and provides computer-related products and services, including CompuServe Information Service (‘CIS’), an on-line general information service or ‘electronic library’ that subscribers may access . .

Cited by:
CitedBunt v Tilley and others QBD 10-Mar-2006
The claimant sought damages in defamation in respect of statements made on internet bulletin boards. He pursued the operators of the bulletin boards, and the court now considered the liability of the Internet Service Providers whose systems had . .
CitedGodfrey v Demon Internet Limited QBD 26-Mar-1999
An Internet Service Provider who was re-distributing Usenet postings it had received, to its users in general, remained a publisher at common law, even though he was not such within the definitions of the Act, and it was therefore liable in . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Leading Case

Updated: 09 November 2021; Ref: scu.277104