Kimzey v. Yelp!, Inc.

The Communications Decency Act (47 USC 230) shielded Yelp! from liability for an allegedly defamatory review of plaintiff’s business as plaintiff alleged no facts to support his speculation that Yelp! rather than a customer wrote the review.  Plaintiff’s defamation complaint against Yelp! for running a bad review of plaintiff’s locksmith business is dismissed under the Communications Decency Act (47 USC 230), which immunizes an interactive computer service from liability for publishing content supplied by others.  Threadbare allegations that Yelp! authored the review itself by copying material from other websites is not enough to avoid the statutory immunity.  The plaintiff must also allege facts substantiating the assertion that the review was not, as usual, written by a third party reviewer.  Also, Yelp! did not become an author by tagging the review with its star-rating which merely classifies quickly the salient features of the material supplied by the third party reviewer.  The statute also immunizes Yelp! from liability for its republication of the review on Google.  Proliferation of content is not equal to creation or development of the content.

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (McKeown, J.); September 12, 2016; 2016 WL 4729492

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