In the case of Cornelis and Syntrax Innovations Inc v Ryan DeLuca d/b/a www.bodybuilding.com the Plaintiff, a fitness website selling dietary and other related products such as pharmaceuticals through their website, sued the Defendants alleging civil conspiracy.
It alleged that libelous posts had been made about their company and products on their internet website which constituted tortious interference with their business relations.
The Plaintiffs argued the defendants were engaged in a civil conspiracy with other persons to post libelous statements about their company and products with a view to interfering with their business. The website contained public forums permitting posts regarding the Plaintiffs’ products and website.
The Plaintiffs allege that the defendants assisted competitors in posting libelous statements which were false and capable of being read by members of the public.
The Defendants of course argued that they had immunity under S230 Communications Decency Act 1996, as they fell within the definition of an interactive service provider. Therefore they couldn’t be liable for civil conspiracy for libelous statements made on their website.
Under S230 although a provider can’t be liable for others’ statements made on their website they can be held liable for their own words.
The Plaintiffs made this claim but did not provide details of the conspiracy, other than to state the mere existence of the forum boards on the website. Alleging a conspiracy between the persons who post the fake reviews or defamatory material and the owner of the website has previously been raise as a means of circumventing the immunity conferred by S230 of the Act upon a website owner.
However in this case the court merely stated that the only relevant factor was whether or not the Defendants had posted the alleged libelous content themselves, without citing any precedent.
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