Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 54.81.220.239

Forum Moderators: rogerd

Message Too Old, No Replies

what is a site's liability for actions by its users?

if they violate local laws

     
5:07 pm on Oct 12, 2016 (gmt 0)

Moderator from US 

WebmasterWorld Administrator lifeinasia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Dec 10, 2005
posts:5842
votes: 187


Besides the usual "ask a lawyer" (which I plan to do, but am trying to get some background information and possible case studies first) responses, I wonder about the liability of the site owner if users violate local (or national) laws by their actions.

Let's say a site allows people to create groups (similar to Meetup) and the group owner can make the group public (anyone can join) or private (group owner manually approves each member). One group owner decides to create a group and refuses to admit anyone from a certain protected class of people (e.g., a certain race). In the U.S., this type of discrimination would be illegal. So what would be the site owner's level of liability for this?

My understanding of Safe Harbor is that it can provide some site owners with certain shields against liability for copyright issues in some cases, but it seems to be vague in terms of other legal issues.

Has anyone ever had (or come across) a situation like this?
8:33 pm on Oct 12, 2016 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Nov 29, 2005
posts:9884
votes: 967


Sadly there aren't many indicators of what is allowed or disallowed until some kind of legal action is taken. Safe Harbor has recently been gutted so even the old understandings may no longer apply.

However, most legal jurisdictions take "intent" into any examination and "intent" can change from one legal jurisdiction to another. If your gut feeling suggests that hosting (or allowing) a group/meme that is discriminatory in nature and you prevent it, you might open yourself to a charge of discrimination by the party squelched.

You'll need to discuss this with an attorney of your choice. I suggest one not only versed in intellectual properties and civil rights, but one with internet and international law experience as well.
10:20 pm on Oct 12, 2016 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member keyplyr is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 26, 2001
posts:12913
votes: 893


what is a site's liability for actions by its users?
Liability is a judgement, not a condition. If a party accuses you of being liable for an action, then it needs to be proven. You are not liable by default.

AFAIK intent is not a legal term and would only serve as a discretionary factor in sentencing or retribution. If you are found liable for an action, you are liable no matter what your intent is/was.

I've been to copyright & trademark court 3 times. Once as the plaintiff & twice as the defendant, so now I have an account with a digital copyright law office.

Years ago, I moved a web site from the UCSD edu servers to web hosting where the public could access the content (while on the edu servers only students/faculty had access.) As part of the class curriculum students created MP3 of their work and posted them online.

After going public with the site, within a couple months attorneys representing the financial interests of the copyright owners hit me with C&D including a pay-for-play deal.

We went to court as I thought since the intent was non-commercial and for educational purposes. I was found at fault and once again was offered the injunction or quick removal of the copyrighted content.
11:16 pm on Oct 12, 2016 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Nov 29, 2005
posts:9884
votes: 967


AFAIK intent is not a legal term and


And this is why we don't offer legal advice at webmasterworld! :)

Look up "mens rea", and other versions of "legal intent".
11:24 pm on Oct 12, 2016 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member keyplyr is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 26, 2001
posts:12913
votes: 893


we don't offer legal advice at webmasterworld!
Absolutely
Look up "mens rea"
That's in criminal law.
2:35 am on Oct 13, 2016 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Nov 29, 2005
posts:9884
votes: 967


Also applies to contract law as well. Been there, done that. :)
11:38 am on Oct 13, 2016 (gmt 0)

Preferred Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 12, 2014
posts:384
votes: 68


Mitigation goes a long way to help limit liability.