eBay sets more precedent in online defamation jurisprudence

Today's Recorder has an article by Brenda Sandburg about the California Court of Appeals' decision in Grace v. Ebay, a suit seeking to hold eBay liable for defamatory feedback left about the plaintiff, an eBay seller. The Court upheld a provision in eBay's user agreement protecting eBay from liability for feedback, but rejected a defense based on the California Decency Act. Good news for eBay, bad news for many other entities that merely enable information, which may or may not be defamatory, to be shared. I suppose eBay encourages users to rely on an entire feedback record, but that's different from vouching for any one entry. Another case on the same issue under the Decency Act is pending now before the California Supreme Court. In general, while, as a lawyer, it is nice to be able to contract around liability, it is better policy not to hold a mere intermediary liable for the nasty things said on its virtual premises.

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