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FUDBuster: Web Sites Favored in Liability Suit

FUDBust: The operators of the "Eye on Emerson" site experienced an operator's nightmare in 2002 when anonymous users posted defamatory comments about local politicians--and the politicians sued the site. But after a long legal battle, a New Jersey appeals court last month upheld lower court rulings that site operators should be treated more like ISPs than like print media.

Newspapers and magazines can be sued for libel because they have complete control over their content. But the high court said that Web sites are covered under the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which states that ISPs cannot be held liable for the content they carry. The ruling doesn't mean that Web masters should stop monitoring their postings, but there is some assurance that they won't end up in court over their users' opinions.