If your ex-boyfriend posts your naked picture on Yahoo’s website, can Yahoo be held responsible? And here’s the naked truth on this one. It all began when Cecelia’s ex-boyfriend created a profile of her without her permission, and posted it in several chat rooms on Yahoo’s website. The profile included pictures of them naked together and encouraged males to check her out, when they did, they were treated to the pictures along with her address and telephone number. In the words of the Court, she was inundated with male suitors expecting to have sex with her. She sued Yahoo, but the Court held that the Communications Decency Act shields Yahoo from tort liability, that intermediaries cannot be held liable for what is placed on their sites by others. The Court did hold, however, that she did had a breach of contract claim because a Yahoo representative had promised that the material would be removed, even though it wasn’t until she sued. So, there it is, the Communications Decency Act protects indecency, while old-fashioned contract law rides to the rescue. Go figure?
THIS IS NEIL CHAYET LOOKING AT THE LAW™
Barnes v. Yahoo!, Inc., No. 05-36189, slip op. (9th Cir. May 7, 2009).