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Court: Web site liable for postings
GOPUSA ^ | May 17, 2007 | UPI Staff (United Press International)

Posted on 05/17/2007 9:03:16 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks

SAN FRANCISCO (UPI) -- A court in San Francisco ruled that a roommate-matching Web site may be held accountable for what users say about their preferences.

A three-judge panel of the federal appeals court ruled in favor of two California fair housing groups that brought the complaint against Roommate.com, saying the Web site violates the Fair Housing Act by allowing users to specify roommate preferences based on sex, race, religion and sexual orientation, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

The ruling took away the main argument of the defense: that a 1996 ruling granting immunity to Internet service providers that transmit unlawful material supplied by others extended to the case. The judges ruled that the law was not applicable because Roommates.com created the menus that invite the unlawful information.

Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University, said the decision represented an important shift.

"To date," he said, "The law has been almost uniform that a Web site isn't liable for what its users say. The problem here is that the Web site offered up choices for users to structure their remarks. That creates a hole plaintiffs can exploit."

Copyright 2007 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; Philosophy; US: California
KEYWORDS: 9thcircuit; 9thcircus; ca; california; discrimination; fairhousingact; freedom; internetruling; isp; liberty; ninthcircuit; ninthcircus; preferences; race; religion; responsibility; roommatedotcom; roommates; sanfrancisco; sanfranciscovalues; sanfransicko; sanfransickovalues; sex; sexualorientation
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1 posted on 05/17/2007 9:03:18 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

It won’t survive appeal.


2 posted on 05/17/2007 9:04:24 AM PDT by Jake The Goose
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

They don’t even use the words “Ninth Circuit” anymore.


3 posted on 05/17/2007 9:04:40 AM PDT by AmishDude (It doesn't matter whom you vote for. It matters who takes office.)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

A dangerous ruling.


4 posted on 05/17/2007 9:05:49 AM PDT by HEY4QDEMS (Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.)
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Comment #5 Removed by Moderator

To: AmishDude

Are you sure it was the circuit court?


6 posted on 05/17/2007 9:06:44 AM PDT by HEY4QDEMS (Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

So if you want a pretty girl for a roommate, you can’t complain if they give you a whip-wielding transvestite instead?

Or if three college girls want a fourth girl, they’re not allowed to say so?


7 posted on 05/17/2007 9:06:59 AM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

horse manure


8 posted on 05/17/2007 9:07:18 AM PDT by sageb1 (This is the Final Crusade. There are only 2 sides. Pick one.)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

Am I confused? I can advertise for a roommate, but I can’t specify that it needs to be a woman? Bet I can mention non-smoking! LOL


9 posted on 05/17/2007 9:08:06 AM PDT by trimom
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks
The “race” and “religion” parts will probably survive appeal.Not sure about the “sexual orientation” part.But the “sex” part will be thrown out for sure.
10 posted on 05/17/2007 9:08:29 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative ("The meaning of peace is the absence of opposition to socialism."-Karl Marx)
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To: Cicero
You can't advertise what you want. They just have to interview everyone and reject those you don't want for "unspecified personality differences".
11 posted on 05/17/2007 9:09:34 AM PDT by KarlInOhio (Parker v. DC: the best court decision of the year.)
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To: HEY4QDEMS

>>>Are you sure it was the circuit court?

Second Paragraph: “A three-judge panel of the federal appeals court...”

That’s the 9th Circus...


12 posted on 05/17/2007 9:09:47 AM PDT by Keith in Iowa (Then vs Now: Tokyo Rose - Baghdad Harry Reid)
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To: Cicero

Apparently, the Fair Housing Act implicity covers more than just landlords.


13 posted on 05/17/2007 9:09:53 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (G*d bless and heal Virginia Tech!)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks; Cicero
implicity = implicitly d-oh!
14 posted on 05/17/2007 9:11:10 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (G*d bless and heal Virginia Tech!)
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To: Keith in Iowa

I just noticed that, thanks.


15 posted on 05/17/2007 9:12:10 AM PDT by HEY4QDEMS (Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.)
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To: HEY4QDEMS
9th Circus is THE Federal appeals court in SF:

Beautiful building. Crappy neighborhood. Lousy decisions.

16 posted on 05/17/2007 9:12:18 AM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: HEY4QDEMS

Well, it does say “A three-judge panel of the federal appeals court.” I was under the impression that an appeals court IS a circuit court.


17 posted on 05/17/2007 9:12:26 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (G*d bless and heal Virginia Tech!)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

Liberals are so concerned with an individuals right to choose1


18 posted on 05/17/2007 9:13:15 AM PDT by Ender Wiggin
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To: trimom

Bet they won’t allow you to specify “smoking.”


19 posted on 05/17/2007 9:13:18 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (G*d bless and heal Virginia Tech!)
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To: Ender Wiggin

Only when it concerns abortions, sexual partners, or drugs.


20 posted on 05/17/2007 9:14:52 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (G*d bless and heal Virginia Tech!)
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To: Ender Wiggin

Unless the want to choose between a Colt or a S&W.


21 posted on 05/17/2007 9:15:47 AM PDT by HEY4QDEMS (Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.)
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To: HEY4QDEMS

You’re right. I’m not sure. But “3 judge panel”+”federal appeals court” usually means a circuit.


22 posted on 05/17/2007 9:16:00 AM PDT by AmishDude (It doesn't matter whom you vote for. It matters who takes office.)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

Precedence or Penumbra? /sarcasm


23 posted on 05/17/2007 9:17:03 AM PDT by PGalt
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To: AmishDude

“Ninth Circuit”

Republicans should try to get control of Congress and the White House so they can break up the “Ninth Circuit”.

[/s]

[snicker — the Pubbies squandered their majority]


24 posted on 05/17/2007 9:19:02 AM PDT by TomGuy
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

The choice of a roommate is not the same as the choice of a renter or purchaser. The gov’t cannot limit the right to choose who you live with.


25 posted on 05/17/2007 9:19:26 AM PDT by Eva
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To: PGalt
Neither precedence nor penumbra. That odor is the 9th circuses emanation! ;-P
26 posted on 05/17/2007 9:19:45 AM PDT by MortMan (Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.)
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To: Jake The Goose
It won’t survive appeal.

I hope not.

27 posted on 05/17/2007 9:20:11 AM PDT by null and void (The truth. It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.)
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To: Eva

Apparently it is, according to these nitwits.


28 posted on 05/17/2007 9:23:06 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (G*d bless and heal Virginia Tech!)
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To: Cicero

Yup. It is all part of the communist manifesto for taking over the US. Weaken morality, weaken the family.


29 posted on 05/17/2007 9:23:16 AM PDT by Idaho Whacko
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To: TomGuy

And it’s so much better now.


30 posted on 05/17/2007 9:23:27 AM PDT by AmishDude (It doesn't matter whom you vote for. It matters who takes office.)
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To: MortMan

The rotting robes adjudicating themselves into a coroner?


31 posted on 05/17/2007 9:25:03 AM PDT by PGalt
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To: JackRyanCIA; Czar; glock rocks

If this survives the circuit, we are done for.

The UN Charter will be replacing our Constitution and Bill of Rights faster than I feared.


32 posted on 05/17/2007 9:26:21 AM PDT by B4Ranch (Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.)
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To: Eva
The choice of a roommate is not the same as the choice of a renter or purchaser. The gov’t cannot limit the right to choose who you live with.

Yeh, my local paper is full of adds for roomates that specify all sorts of things like sex, age, marital status, smoking/non-smoking, christian, etc..
33 posted on 05/17/2007 9:28:03 AM PDT by NorthFlaRebel
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To: AmishDude
They don’t even use the words “Ninth Circuit” anymore.

That's because it's become synonymous with "overturned." It'll probably be a verb in the future: "That decision was 9th Circuited."

34 posted on 05/17/2007 9:33:19 AM PDT by John Jorsett (scam never sleeps)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

I thought the first ammendment guranteed a right to freely associate. This right to associate implies a converse right to “dis-associate” or associate with folks “other than” those who are not of like mind etc...

If one case, just one case were argued from this point of view, maybe these “Fair Housing, everybody MUST mingle” Nazis would get their a$$es kicked.


35 posted on 05/17/2007 9:39:38 AM PDT by Al Gator (Refusing to "stoop to your enemy's level", gets you cut off at the knees.)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks
...the Web site violates the Fair Housing Act by allowing users to specify roommate preferences based on sex, race, religion and sexual orientation...

Is this really the same thing? It doesn't seem to be about owners/landlords denying the rental based on personal preferences; it's about a tenant already paying rent advertising for a roomate to share the bills. I can't see how that counts towards fair housing in the same vein as an owner renting the property in the first place.

With that aside, I can see how this ruling becomes extended to cover posted comments on other websites, such as Free Republic. If this stands, I bet someone will use the precedent to force the owners of Free Republic to be responsible for all posts by anyone on this site. Then you'd really have a problem with mischievous dissenters signing up to intentionally post "wrongful content" as a prelude to attacking the site legally.

-PJ

36 posted on 05/17/2007 9:41:53 AM PDT by Political Junkie Too (It's still not safe to vote Democrat.)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

What’s idiotic about this ruling is that the preferences are really a service to potential homehunters who would never be seriously considered for the spot. Now they have to search and waste time chasing down and/or interviewing people who will reject them. (Of course, if they hide their preferences until later—say after they are accepted or even move in—and then are asked to leave, there’s probably a lawsuit waiting to happen.)


37 posted on 05/17/2007 9:41:54 AM PDT by caseinpoint (Don't get thickly involved in thin things.)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks
This decision is not bad. First, remember that this ruling has nothing to do with this use of the Fair Housing Act or the whole issue that a free people should be able to choose who they want as roommates. This is only about safe harbor provisions. Sites like Free Republic have safe harbor because we as the posters have 100% control over the content we post. Free Republic only gives us a place to do it, does not guide our content in any way.

This site set up a questionnaire that shaped the posted content. Posters were required to choose between options generated by the site. Those options went into the post, and therefore the site was partially responsible for the content.

Since the site was partially responsible for content, it is no longer covered under the safe harbor provisions. Note that the court ruled that any potentially law-violating content in the free-form submission part of the site is still covered by safe harbor (although one idiot judge dissented on that).

38 posted on 05/17/2007 9:43:15 AM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks
Based on that reasoning the dating services will be next. “How dare anyone ask about gender while looking for a romantic relationship!” Mark my words.
39 posted on 05/17/2007 9:49:50 AM PDT by ElkGroveDan (When toilet paper is a luxury, you have achieved communism.)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

So it’s against the law to specify the kind of person you would like to have as your own roommate? And liberals claim to be AGAINST intrusive, in-your-bedroom government? What a bunch of frauds liberals are.


40 posted on 05/17/2007 9:50:42 AM PDT by Steve_Seattle ("Above all, shake your bum at Burton.")
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To: Steve_Seattle
And liberals claim to be AGAINST intrusive, in-your-bedroom government?

They're trying to make straight people get more gay roommates, whether forced or accidentally (because they weren't allowed to ask), and they're hoping for conversions.

41 posted on 05/17/2007 9:52:36 AM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: PGalt
The rotting robes adjudicating themselves into a coroner?

I've gotta ask... Was "coroner" a typo or a pun?

Either way - LOL! ;-P

42 posted on 05/17/2007 9:53:01 AM PDT by MortMan (Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.)
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To: MortMan

No typo.


43 posted on 05/17/2007 9:58:09 AM PDT by PGalt
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To: antiRepublicrat

Just wait for more lawsuits against on-line dating / match making services. There’s one that advertises on TV a lot, which have only opposite sex couples featured talking about how they met via that web site. I expect a lawsuit in Massachusetts since it’s clearly discrimination because same-sex marriage is legal there.

There is a slippery slope but some in the gay community want to deny there is a slippery slope.


44 posted on 05/17/2007 9:58:14 AM PDT by Dilbert San Diego
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To: ElkGroveDan
Based on that reasoning the dating services will be next. “How dare anyone ask about gender while looking for a romantic relationship!” Mark my words.

I long ago stopped saying "That's ridiculous, the government would never do that." I was proven wrong too many times.

45 posted on 05/17/2007 9:58:56 AM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: KarlInOhio

Great. How convenient for all concerned.


46 posted on 05/17/2007 10:01:16 AM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks
btt

STOP AMNESTY NOW!! WE CAN DO IT!!

47 posted on 05/17/2007 10:03:36 AM PDT by Cacique (quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat ( Islamia Delenda Est ))
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To: antiRepublicrat
Free Republic...does not guide our content in any way.

Ahmmmm, ZOTee's might take issue with you there...

48 posted on 05/17/2007 10:04:19 AM PDT by GoldCountryRedneck ("The American Indians found out what happens when you don't control immigration."- unknown)
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To: antiRepublicrat

“Sites like Free Republic have safe harbor because we as the posters have 100% control over the content we post.”

The latest dust up and purge of Rudy backers may contradict that.


49 posted on 05/17/2007 10:16:26 AM PDT by Bob J (nks)
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To: Al Gator
I thought the first ammendment guranteed a right to freely associate. This right to associate implies a converse right to “dis-associate” or associate with folks “other than” those who are not of like mind etc...

If one case, just one case were argued from this point of view, maybe these “Fair Housing, everybody MUST mingle” Nazis would get their a$$es kicked.

BINGO!

Accourse, before this decision, you woulda thought neccesity for such a lawsuit would have been preempted by common sense.

I visited the website to see for myself exactly how the menus were worded but declined to wade through the membership signup process that you have to go through first.
50 posted on 05/17/2007 10:19:25 AM PDT by Titan Magroyne ("Shorn, dumb and bleating is no way to go through life, son." Yeah, close enough.)
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