Zeran Appeals to the Supreme Court

(March 9, 1998)  Kenneth Zeran filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court on March 9 in its defamation case against America Online.  In this first major test of 230 of the Telecom Act of 1996, Zeran seeks to have AOL held liable for the defamatory postings of an AOL subscriber.  Zeran lost in the U.S. District Court, and again in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Appeals to the Supreme Court are discretionary: the high court agrees to hear only a small percentage of all appeals filed with it.

Zeran's appeal, titled Petition for Writ of Certiorari, alleges that two fundamental questions are presented by the case.

(1) whether Section 230(c) of the CDA, 47 U.S.C. 230(c), can be properly construed to immunize proprietary computer online service providers ("OSPs") from state common law negligence liability, by absolving them from any legal duty to injured parties in their capacity as distributors of defamatory, fraudulent, harassing, or otherwise injurious subject matter after receiving actual notice that such subject matter was being posted on their own proprietary bulletin boards, and"

"(2) whether the CDA which became effective February 6, 1996, was properly invoked to bar a claim which arose during April and May of 1995, but which was not filed until after the effective date of the CDA."