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Eric Goldman is a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law in California, where he teaches and publishes in the areas of Internet law, intellectual property, and advertising and marketing law.  Goldman was queried by American Free Press about the recent removal of certain kinds of content by Internet giants YouTube and Amazon.  According to Goldman, the answer is in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which in turn amended the Communications Act of 1934.

Free speech?

AFP writes: "[The Telecommunications Act] was the first major overhaul of U.S. telecommunications policy in nearly 62 years.  It allows Internet service providers (ISPs) and other service providers to restrict customers’ actions without worrying about being found legally liable. Specifically, the act states: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”  Section 230 had its beginnings in protecting children, and was passed in part in reaction to 1995’s Stratton Oakmont, Inc. v. Prodigy Services Co., “which suggested that service providers who assumed an editorial role with regard to customer content, thus became publishers, and legally responsible for libel and other torts committed by customers.” Section 230 was passed to allow service providers to delete and monitor content without becoming publishers.

Goldman: "If the distributor (e.g., YouTube) has the contractual and legal right to pull the rug out from under the content producer at any time, then the content producer either needs to accept that contingency or bargain for a better deal." Problem: there aren't a lot of better deals, and, as Goldman points out: “Retailers are not required to put any particular item on their shelves.”  The Biggies are effectively considered retailers and purveyors, yet not publishers.

Read AFP article here.