Blumenthal v. Matt Drudge & America Online, Inc

From Internet Law Treatise
Jump to: navigation, search

992 F. Supp. 44 (D.D.C. 1998)

Plaintiffs Sidney Blumenthal, a former journalist who became a White House aide, and his wife sued Matt Drudge, publisher of an electronic publication known as the “Drudge Report,” and AOL for defamation, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. AOL had entered into a license agreement with Drudge by which it paid him a monthly royalty for the right to make the Drudge Report available to AOL users. Plaintiffs asserted that AOL jointly published the allegedly defamatory statements with Drudge, and thus was not immune from liability pursuant to Section 230.

AOL filed a motion for summary judgment, and Drudge filed a separate motion to dismiss or transfer for lack of personal jurisdiction. AOL, which based its motion entirely on Section 230, asserted that, as an interactive computer service, it was immune from liability for any cause of action arising from publication by a third party. In granting AOL’s motion, the court held that the fact that AOL had the right to make changes in the Drudge Report was not sufficient to make it a joint publisher of the Report. Rather, plaintiffs were required to present evidence that AOL had some role in creating or developing the information in the Drudge Report. They failed to do so. “Indeed, plaintiffs affirmatively state that ‘no person, other than Drudge himself, edited, checked, verified, or supervised the information that Drudge published in the Drudge Report.’” Id. at 50.