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Yahoo Says Law Preempts Nude Photo Case

Oregon- An Oregon woman whose ex-boyfriend posted nude photos of her online cannot hold Yahoo liable for failing to perform the duties of a publisher, the company says in arguing for the dismissal of her negligence suit.

A federal law shields Internet service providers from liability for material posted on their sites by third parties. Cecilia Barnes claims the law does not preempt her case because she is suing Yahoo for “failure to fulfill its promise to remove” the photos from its Profiles section.

As a result of Yahoo’s negligence, she alleges, she was harassed by men who saw the photos. Her ex-boyfriend allegedly included her work contact information in the unauthorized profiles.

But Yahoo says Barnes still cannot evade the reach of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which says, “No provider … of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”

Barnes’ claim for breach of duty, Yahoo lawyers argue in a brief, is nothing more than an effort to hold the service provider liable for failing to perform the duties of a publisher, such as screening or removing third-party content.

The defense also contends that Barnes cannot show she was damaged by Yahoo’s failure to remove the photos. “[A]ll of her alleged damages stemmed from the allegedly tortious content that was posted to the Yahoo! service by her ex-boyfriend.”

Barnes originally filed her complaint in state court, but the case was removed to federal jurisdiction.

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