(10771) Fri 21 Feb 92 11:57a By: Langston Goldfinch To: John Souvestre Re: Re: In-Transit

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(10771) Fri 21 Feb 92 11:57a By: Langston Goldfinch To: John Souvestre Re: Re: In-Transit netmail St: <10746 ------------------------------------------------------------ @EID:ac2e 18555f27 @MSGID: 1:396/17 29a54241 @REPLY: 1:396/1 29a44bdb Dear John, et all: The following is excerpted from the Dec 91 issue of Boardwatch Mag. LEGALLY on LINE by Lance Rose The CompuServe Case - A Federal Court Recognizes Sysop Rights. (excerpts as apply to our current discussion) In October a Manhattan Federal Court ruled that CompuServe was not absolutely responsible for libelous statements made by others in public areas. CS was held to be a "distributor" of the materials in question not a "publisher." As such CS does NOT need to MONITOR all material made available on its system. This is because the burden of monitoring would seriously slow down or perhaps destroy the business. (the details had to do with a newsletter carried on CS. lg.) This ruling protects Sysops and BBS' and would apply to: 1. Electronic newsletters carried by the BBS but published by others. 2. Files, especially text, image, and database, transferred through the system. 3. Shared public message systems such as FidoNet (etc) where the system does not control content but merely helps distribute to users and other BBS' 4. E-Mail sent within and through the BBS. The ruling holds the person who uploads the material to be responsible. It ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ refutes those who would treat the BBS as scapegoats for the illegal or irresponsible acts of those who perpetrate them. Not all questions were resolved. BBS' that maintain internal message bases where the Sysop freely deletes or moves messages to promote certain kind of ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ discussions. Use of a heavy editorial hand can make the message area look like it is PUBLISHED by the BBS rather than "distributed". First amendment rights of publishers are different from those of distributors. (especially liability and culpability lg.) The court went on to suggest that programs (executable files, most shareware) were not in the same category as database, text, and image files with greater first amendment concerns. Executable files are more like "hardware" in their distribution rights. There is little first amendment protection for hammer and nails! It is hoped that future cases will clarify and protect the rights of Sysops and other BBS users. Regards, Langston --- GoldED 2.31p+ * Origin: --> New Orleans, Louisiana. <-- (FidoNet 1:396/17)

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