Vazquez v. Buhl
A provider of interactive computer services may be entitled to immunity for defamatory statements, if the statements are provided by another information content provider. The plaintiff, Mitchell Vasquez, alleged that John Carney, an editor for NBCUniversal Media LLC, indicated on www.CNBC.com, a computer site owned by NBCUniversal, that Teri Buhl was a "veteran financial reporter" and that Carney included a link to Buhl's computer site with the statement, "I don't want to steal Buhl's thunder, so click on her report for the big reveal." John Carney's article was headlined, "The Sex and Money Scandal Rocking Hedge Fund Land." Vasquez sued NBCUniversal, alleging that Buhl's statements were libelous, and that NBCUniversal published defamatory statements and negligently inflicted emotional distress. NBCUniversal moved to strike, pursuant to the Communications Decency Act of 1996, 47 United States Code §230. The statute provides, "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider," pursuant to 47 U.S.C. §230(c)(1). "Congress granted most internet services immunity from liability for publishing false or defamatory material so long as the information was provided by another party," pursuant to Carafano v. Metrosplash.com, a 2003 decision of the 9th Circuit. The Connecticut Superior Court found that the defendant, NBCUniversal, did not qualify as an Internet content provider for defamatory statements in Buhl's articles, because it did not materially create or develop any of the statements. NBCUniversal only added an introduction to lead readers to Buhl's statements, which were available via hyperlink. As a provider of an interactive computer service, in which the subject statements were created by another information content provider, NBCUniversal is entitled to immunity under the Communications Decency Act. "Even though NBCUniversal's actions might have increased readership of the defamatory statements," wrote the court, "its actions do not amount to either the creation or development of the allegedly defamatory statement which it did not author or even edit." The court granted NBCUniversal's motion to strike.