The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School is a leader in the study of the law and policy around the Internet and other emerging technologies.
Whether and when communications platforms like Google, Twitter and Facebook are liable for their users’ online activities is one of the key factors that affects innovation and free speech. Most creative expression today takes place over communications networks owned by private companies. Governments around the world increasingly press intermediaries to block their users’ undesirable online content in order to suppress dissent, hate speech, privacy violations and the like. One form of pressure is to make communications intermediaries legally responsible for what their users do and say. Liability regimes that put platform companies at legal risk for users’ online activity are a form of censorship-by-proxy, and thereby imperil both free expression and innovation, even as governments seek to resolve very real policy problems.
In the United States, the core doctrines of section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act have allowed these online intermediary platforms user generated content to flourish. But, immunities and safe harbors for intermediaries are under threat in the U.S. and globally as governments seek to deputize intermediaries to assist in law enforcement.
To contribute to this important policy debate, CIS studies international approaches to intermediary obligations concerning users’ copyright infringement, defamation, hate speech or other vicarious liabilities, immunities, or safe harbors; publishes a repository of information on international liability regimes and works with global platforms and free expression groups to advocate for policies that will protect innovation, freedom of expression, privacy and other user rights.
The next meeting of the Stanford Intermediary Liability Lab (SILLab) will take place on Thursday, January 16 at 4pm in Room 230 at Stanford Law School.Professor Eric Goldman from Santa Clara Law School will join us for an informal discussion about intermediary liability. Professor Goldman is one of the major intermediary liability experts in the US and runs a well known blog dedicated to intermediary liability and Internet law at http://blog.ericgoldman.org.
Almost three months after the federal elections in Germany, the leaders of coalition parties have finally concluded a non-binding coalition agreement that includes the prospect of expanded hosting provider liability for online copyright infringement. Read more about New German Government Intends to Expand Hosting Provider Liability
According to a recently published decision of the German Federal Supreme Court (judgment of 16 May 2013, I ZR 216/11) eBay shall be liable for copyright infringements of third parties if it actively promotes the infringing offers by its own marketing campaign. In such cases the general liability privilege for information service providers, which arise from Section 7 and 10 German Telemedia Act, does not apply and eBay must observe increased due diligence requirements. Read more about German Supreme Court Finds eBay Liable for Actively Promoted Third Party Copyright Infringements
In spite of an inflamed debate and strong opposition, as we have reported here and here, the Board of the Italian Communication Authority (AGCOM) approved its regulatory scheme for online copyright enforcement. The outgoing chairman of AGCOM hastily approved the scheme a few days before the new chairman was installed. The new regulation will allow AGCOM to administratively police copyright infringement online and will enter into force on March 31, 2014. Read more about Italian Communication Authority Approves Administrative Enforcement of Online Copyright Infringement