Published: Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Updated: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 15:07
The Student Press Law Center is an advocate for student free-press rights and provides information, advice and legal assistance at no charge to students and the educators who work with them. Ask questions, get help and learn more about their site SPLC.org, or click the links above or below.
Am I liable for defamatory comments made by visitors on my Web site?
Generally no. Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act provides broad immunity for material created and posted on your Web site by outsiders. Importantly, the CDA's immunity provisions remain in place even if you edit a post by deleting all or part of it. You do need to be careful when it comes to adding content or editing a post so extensively that a court might conclude you have produced new content. This is key because the law will not shield you from liability for content you or your staff create. And remember that the law is different for copyright – you can be required to pull down a third-party posting if you conclude, after receiving written notice from a copyright-holder, that the post contains infringing material.
For more information, check out the SPLC's guide to the Communications Decency Act, Know Your Cybershield
, available here