Archive Message - 1995

From braintree!!!sun4nl!xs4all!!not-for-mail Thu Oct 26 10:31:22 1995 Path: braintree!!!sun4nl!xs4all!!not-for-mail From: nobody@REPLAY.COM (Anonymous) Newsgroups:,alt.religion.scientology Subject: AP: Prodigy Reaches Libel Pact Date: 24 Oct 1995 23:40:13 +0100 Organization: RePLaY aND CoMPaNY UnLimited Lines: 57 Sender: Distribution: inet Message-ID: <46jq0d$> NNTP-Posting-Host: XComm: Replay may or may not approve of the content of this posting XComm: Report misuse of this automated service to <postmaster@REPLAY.COM> Xref: braintree alt.religion.scientology:118250 AP 24 Oct 95 Copyright 1995 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in this news report may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of the Associated Press. Prodigy Reaches Libel Pact NEW YORK (AP) -- Prodigy Services Co. appeared to emerge from the cloud of a libel lawsuit Tuesday when its accuser decided not to challenge new, key evidence the company plans to bring that could end the $200 million case. The agreement -- while not a legal settlement -- may hasten the end of the widely watched case, one of the first to define liability for on-line speech. The case involves a suit brought by investment firm Stratton Oakmont against Prodigy last November after a Prodigy subscriber anonymously criticized the firm's handling of an initial public offering. The subscriber's comment was posted on an electronic bulletin board devoted to investments. In May, New York State Court Judge Stuar Ain, who presided over the case, ruled Prodigy was a publisher subject to the rules of libel. He cited statements the company had made to potential subscribers in 1992 and earlier. Prodigy planned to challenge the ruling. The company came up with evidence that, long before the posting about Stratton Oakmont, it had changed its technical structure and marketing to make it clear to subscribers it was not responsible for content of messages. On Tuesday, Prodigy and Stratton Oakmont announced jointly that the investment firm would not challenge the new evidence. Prodigy said it was sorry if offensive statements concerning the firm, Stratton Oakmont, and its president Daniel Porush, about a year ago caused injury to their reputation. But Prodigy reiterated its belief that it is not a publisher subject to libel laws since the only review it makes of subscribers' messages is for obscene language. Jacob Zamansky, attorney representing Stratton Oakmont, said he still was unsure Prodigy's efforts were adequate to notify subscribers of its changes. But he said, "They've apologized and we have agreed to step aside and let the judge reconsider ruling." Prodigy spokesman Brian Ek said the company hoped Ain would take up its motion for summary judgment quickly. "The two parties are in agreement," he said. "There is no argument." Zamansky said he believed the suit caused a dialogue in the on-line industry about the potential damage that can result from anonymous messages. "The industry should regulate itself to head off government regulation and further court rulings," he said. In 1991, a federal judge in New York threw out a libel suit against CompuServe, another large on-line service, that involved a newsletter distributed electronically.


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