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Author Topic: Legal Advice / Answering Legal Questions  (Read 3970 times)
Nolo
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September 14, 2012, 07:21:06 AM
 #1

The areas I know best are criminal law, tort law (personal injury/wrongful death/defamation/etc.), and business law.  

Shoot me an email at ncontendere AT gmail.com and provide me with as much detail as you think I need.  Make me an offer on what you think the answer/advice is worth based on how complicated it is.  Most of your questions I'll be able to answer right away.  Some might require research if it is a highly technical matter, and obviously I would ask for a little bit more for those issues.  

I am only knowledgeable about American law.  Sorry EU.  But make sure you tell me what state you are in, as the laws are very specific to each state.  This is especially important if your question is of a criminal nature.  

Hope to help as many of you as possible!

Charlie Kelly: I'm pleading the 5th.  The Attorney: I would advise you do that.  Charlie Kelly: I'll take that advice under cooperation, alright? Now, let's say you and I go toe-to-toe on bird law and see who comes out the victor?  The Attorney: You know, I don't think I'm going to do anything close to that and I can clearly see you know nothing about the law.
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September 17, 2012, 12:35:21 AM
 #2

(continuing from the previous thread)

The way I understood it, what they were offering was insurance against an unknown, clearly disclosing that there was a risk of default that was ostensibly unknowable, and in the process of providing this quasi insurance with their own funds, were simply enjoying the opportunity to make a bet themselves (in the opposite direction against their customers) in a manner that magnified their potential losses/returns relative to the amount they risked, essentially equivalent to betting with leverage.  Must the pass-through operators be aware that the scheme was an actual fraud in order for them to be liable?  I am mostly just curious.

I don't believe that's quite an accurate assessment. AFAIK, for most of the PPTs, either there was no insurance and the risk and bearers of that risk were explicitly stated publicly in their terms, or else for the insured PPTs (at least those that made good on that insurance, and there were some), would not have been betting against their clients, since they would need to reserve money aside in unrelated assets in order to pay out. In short, just like any other insurance company, they were betting that they would NOT have to pay out (the only situation in which they would have made any extra money), ie that pirate would not default.

Also, many/most of the PPTs are not US based, which makes them much more difficult targets.

I do have a question, though. Assuming we do manage to force pirate and associates to cough up, either by returning what was stolen and/or by liquidating their property, is there a reasonable process that we could arrange a legal agreement for how those funds will be distributed before we get a ruling? I could only imagine a series of disasters following without such an agreement.

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September 17, 2012, 12:57:05 AM
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I do have a question, though. Assuming we do manage to force pirate and associates to cough up, either by returning what was stolen and/or by liquidating their property, is there a reasonable process that we could arrange a legal agreement for how those funds will be distributed before we get a ruling? I could only imagine a series of disasters following without such an agreement.

Excellent question.  The only way what you can achieve what you are asking for is if a class action lawsuit is filed.  A criminal undertaking by the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Justice Department would not allow for this result. 

Basically a class action lawsuit would be filed against pirate and whoever else.  At that point a lead or lead plaintiffs would be nominated, and the court would either grant or deny the Rule 23 Class Action lawsuit to proceed.  The lead plaintiffs are just the names on the lawsuit basically.  Now at any time the "plaintiffs" (all of the injured parties) could agree amongst themselves in the form of a contract as to how they will split any proceeds.  At this point it could really only be decided upon a percentage basis after legal fees and litigation cost, as no one knows how much there actually is left. 

There is no rule of ethics that would prevent this (there is an ethics rule that dictates the procedure the attorney must take in this agreement Model Rules of Professional Conduct 1.8(g)), and I cannot think of any contractual rule that would bar this type of contract.

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1.8(g) - A lawyer who represents two or more clients shall not participate in making an aggregate settlement of the claims of or against the clients, or in a criminal case an aggregated agreement as to guilty or nolo contendere pleas, unless each client gives informed consent, in a writing signed by the client. The lawyer's disclosure shall include the existence and nature of all the claims or pleas involved and of the participation of each person in the settlement.


Charlie Kelly: I'm pleading the 5th.  The Attorney: I would advise you do that.  Charlie Kelly: I'll take that advice under cooperation, alright? Now, let's say you and I go toe-to-toe on bird law and see who comes out the victor?  The Attorney: You know, I don't think I'm going to do anything close to that and I can clearly see you know nothing about the law.
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September 17, 2012, 01:29:50 AM
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Excellent question.  The only way what you can achieve what you are asking for is if a class action lawsuit is filed.  A criminal undertaking by the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Justice Department would not allow for this result. 

Basically a class action lawsuit would be filed against pirate and whoever else.  At that point a lead or lead plaintiffs would be nominated, and the court would either grant or deny the Rule 23 Class Action lawsuit to proceed.  The lead plaintiffs are just the names on the lawsuit basically.  Now at any time the "plaintiffs" (all of the injured parties) could agree amongst themselves in the form of a contract as to how they will split any proceeds.  At this point it could really only be decided upon a percentage basis after legal fees and litigation cost, as no one knows how much there actually is left. 

Thanks! That clarifies things a lot. I had already figured that a % based agreement would be the only practical way to go about it. Do you have a ballpark figure of what we might be looking at in terms of total fees for a class action? Otherwise, would a criminal action cost us anything? I can see this possibly costing more than what we might stand to gain.

I'll be sure to send a BTC your way when I get the chance.

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September 17, 2012, 02:42:04 AM
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Excellent question.  The only way what you can achieve what you are asking for is if a class action lawsuit is filed.  A criminal undertaking by the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Justice Department would not allow for this result. 

Basically a class action lawsuit would be filed against pirate and whoever else.  At that point a lead or lead plaintiffs would be nominated, and the court would either grant or deny the Rule 23 Class Action lawsuit to proceed.  The lead plaintiffs are just the names on the lawsuit basically.  Now at any time the "plaintiffs" (all of the injured parties) could agree amongst themselves in the form of a contract as to how they will split any proceeds.  At this point it could really only be decided upon a percentage basis after legal fees and litigation cost, as no one knows how much there actually is left. 

Thanks! That clarifies things a lot. I had already figured that a % based agreement would be the only practical way to go about it. Do you have a ballpark figure of what we might be looking at in terms of total fees for a class action? Otherwise, would a criminal action cost us anything? I can see this possibly costing more than what we might stand to gain.

I'll be sure to send a BTC your way when I get the chance.

Attorneys fees range quite hugely depending on the case.  Class Actions of this type are pretty much only taken on a contingency fee basis.  The ethical rule for how much an attorney can charge only says that "the fee must be reasonable."  This is in light of all of the circumstances in the case.  Generally, a contingency fee of 33% is considered reasonable.  This may include the cost of the litigation (court costs, expert witnesses, etc.) or it may not.  That's negotiated between the clients and the attorney.  And then in a class action case, the court usually must approve the fee since it can be so large.  Now, in this case, I don't think anyone would claim that 33% is unreasonable.  This is an extremely novel case.  Never before been litigated.  It will require countless hours of time and research. 

But the good thing about a contingency fee case, is that there really isn't any downside for the plaintiffs if you lose, other than you lose.  You don't pay the attorney fee unless you win the case.  That's the very definition of a contingency fee. 

The bottom line is how much does pirate have left?  And I don't know how you find that out without hiring an attorney with expertise in securities fraud and doing some heavy duty investigation. 

A criminal action doesn't cost anything, but you can't bring that yourself.  Only a government employee such as a state district attorney/attorney general, or a U.S. Attorney.  The good thing about a criminal case is that the bad guy can go to jail.  The bad thing about a criminal case, is that it is not designed to compensate the victims.  The SEC tries in these cases to do that, but that just isn't the primary goal of the criminal prosecution. 

And any BTC tips are always appreciated.  I haven't posted an address yet in this thread, so here ya go.  Thanks again! Smiley  1Hu8aScogCkcphFVcR376y1T2mMdqiSd1r

Charlie Kelly: I'm pleading the 5th.  The Attorney: I would advise you do that.  Charlie Kelly: I'll take that advice under cooperation, alright? Now, let's say you and I go toe-to-toe on bird law and see who comes out the victor?  The Attorney: You know, I don't think I'm going to do anything close to that and I can clearly see you know nothing about the law.
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September 17, 2012, 07:08:36 AM
 #6

I think it would be more productive/educational to frame the question like this:

A operates a ponzi scheme and B, C, and D are willing participants. X offers to, and enters into, a transaction with "B" that he calls "insurance" which will purportedly protect B against losses if A defaults. Y offers to, and enters into, a transaction with "C" that he calls a "bet" which will purportedly pay C if A defaults. Z offers to, and enters into, a transaction with "D" that he calls a "put option" which will allow D to sell D's position in A's scheme to Z at some date in the distant future.

The ponzi collapses and A defaults. X fails to pay the claim on the "insurance policy". Y fails to honor his wager. Z refuses to allow D to exercise the option.

Are X, Y, and Z subject to civil liability (in favor of B, C, D, or state/federal regulatory agencies)? Are X, Y, and Z subject to prosecution in any jurisdictions? Which ones, and what statutes would they be charged with violating?

How do the answers differ depending on the nation(s) or states/provinces where B,C,D,X,Y, and Z reside or do business?

I'm tired, and heading to bed.  But I just thought I'd give a quick (not well thoughtout) answer to your post.  In the morning I might feel differently about my answer.  But here it is for now:

X is liable for breach of contract to B.  
Y is liable for breach of contract to C.
Z is liable for breach of contract to D.  

Unless there is a defense such as illegality.  A court will not enforce an illegal contract.  Therefore, if for example, Y & C's contract of the "bet" is considered illegal gambling, then C has no remedy against Y, not even an equitable remedy.

X,Y, & Z could be subject to prosecution for criminal fraud in almost any jurisdiction in which they reside, do business, or in which they entered into the contract.  (This would require a lengthy discussion of conflict of laws and constitutional law, but that's the general rule.)

I am curious why you did not discuss potential civil/criminal liability for selling insurance without a license, illegal wagering/bookmaking, selling securities without a license, and selling unregistered securities, especially in light of your experience with business law.

These seem like significant issues that X, Y, and Z would want to address, especially if their explanation for why they're not part of A's criminal enterprise is "We're just ordinary businessmen selling insurance/bookmaking/securities!"

Could you explain your understanding of the relationship between "conflict of laws" and criminal charges? I am only familiar with that term being used in a civil context.
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September 17, 2012, 03:49:34 PM
 #7

I think it would be more productive/educational to frame the question like this:

A operates a ponzi scheme and B, C, and D are willing participants. X offers to, and enters into, a transaction with "B" that he calls "insurance" which will purportedly protect B against losses if A defaults. Y offers to, and enters into, a transaction with "C" that he calls a "bet" which will purportedly pay C if A defaults. Z offers to, and enters into, a transaction with "D" that he calls a "put option" which will allow D to sell D's position in A's scheme to Z at some date in the distant future.

The ponzi collapses and A defaults. X fails to pay the claim on the "insurance policy". Y fails to honor his wager. Z refuses to allow D to exercise the option.

Are X, Y, and Z subject to civil liability (in favor of B, C, D, or state/federal regulatory agencies)? Are X, Y, and Z subject to prosecution in any jurisdictions? Which ones, and what statutes would they be charged with violating?

How do the answers differ depending on the nation(s) or states/provinces where B,C,D,X,Y, and Z reside or do business?

I'm tired, and heading to bed.  But I just thought I'd give a quick (not well thoughtout) answer to your post.  In the morning I might feel differently about my answer.  But here it is for now:

X is liable for breach of contract to B.  
Y is liable for breach of contract to C.
Z is liable for breach of contract to D.  

Unless there is a defense such as illegality.  A court will not enforce an illegal contract.  Therefore, if for example, Y & C's contract of the "bet" is considered illegal gambling, then C has no remedy against Y, not even an equitable remedy.

X,Y, & Z could be subject to prosecution for criminal fraud in almost any jurisdiction in which they reside, do business, or in which they entered into the contract.  (This would require a lengthy discussion of conflict of laws and constitutional law, but that's the general rule.)

I am curious why you did not discuss potential civil/criminal liability for selling insurance without a license, illegal wagering/bookmaking, selling securities without a license, and selling unregistered securities, especially in light of your experience with business law.

These seem like significant issues that X, Y, and Z would want to address, especially if their explanation for why they're not part of A's criminal enterprise is "We're just ordinary businessmen selling insurance/bookmaking/securities!"

Could you explain your understanding of the relationship between "conflict of laws" and criminal charges? I am only familiar with that term being used in a civil context.


Everything I said in my prior post was correct, I just didn't elaborate like I usually do.  Mostly because I qualified that response with
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"I'm tired, and heading to bed.  But I just thought I'd give a quick (not well thought out) answer to your post."
 lol


As far as the securities issue, I discussed that in a prior post.  We're not even sure at this point if bitcoins are considered securities by the SEC under the Securities Act of 1933.  Also, this is such a novel area of the law, there could be other political factors at play out there that we simply aren't aware of.  The federal government could feel that intervention on behalf of the SEC to protect bitcoin investors might even "legitimize" bitcoins in the eyes of the public, and therefore they are refusing to classify them as securities for this very purpose.

Illegal wagering/bookmaking and selling insurance without a license are state law issues and are criminal offenses.  Every state is different, every jurisdiction has different penalties.  Sure they are being sold across state lines.  And that's where the whole federal enforcement can come into play.  Possibly they could be investigated for the racketeering charges I discussed in a prior post.  (Mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy, etc.)

Plus all of the above primarily deals with the criminal liability of a party.  It is the civil liability that I feel most investors that have lost out on would be interested in.  Sure there could be some civil action against them for breach of these criminal statutes as well, but I feel recovery would be pretty limited there for several reasons.  1) They likely have already disposed of the money and don't have significant enough assets to make it worth while to even sue them, except maybe as part of a larger plan to go after the big fish pirate.  2) Litigation would be extremely expensive.  Sure this could be classified as a Rule 23 Class Action lawsuit, but there would be so many plaintiffs and so little money, the attorney would be the only one that actually recovers any material amount.  3) Once again, you probably can't even sue a "bookmaker".  What theory are you going to sue them on?  You made an illegal bet and they didn't pay when you won?  That's the equivalent of suing a crack dealer, because he gave you substandard crack.  Courts will not enforce illegal contracts.

It seems you have some legal experience, so I think you'll be able to see where the PA Supreme Court was going in its analysis of criminal conflict of laws rule in Commonwealth v. Eichinger, 915 A.2d 1122 (2007):

Quote
To start this analysis, we first note that procedural rules and substantive law require separate considerations. It is a fundamental principle of conflicts of laws that a court will use the procedural rules of its own state. "That is true in both civil and criminal cases, but especially in criminal cases as a sort of corollary to the local nature of substantive criminal law. Procedures in criminal cases are always those of the forum." Leflar, American Conflicts Law, Fourth Edition, § 116 (1977). Procedural rules are "that which prescribe the methods of enforcing rights." Commonwealth v. Sanchez, 716 A.2d at 1224. On the other hand, substantive law "gives or defines the right." Id.

In Commonwealth v. Sanchez, we held that an issue of search and seizure is substantive as it involves a strict question of constitutional law which concerns the fundamental right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Id. Eichinger raises a constitutional question under the Fifth Amendment, which implicates his right to remain silent and his right to counsel, therefore, the issue must be addressed under the principles of conflict between substantive laws.

As noted before, our choice of law rule when there is a conflict between the substantive criminal laws of this Commonwealth and those of a sister-state, requires that we analyze the policies and interests underlying the rule of each state so that the policy of the jurisdiction most immediately concerned will be applied. Commonwealth v. Sanchez, 552 Pa. 570, 716 A.2d 1221, 1223-24 (Pa. 1998). But it remains implicit in this analysis that there be a conflict between the substantive law of New Jersey and the law of Pennsylvania.

Conflict of Laws rules are used in criminal contexts just like they are in civil.  Typically a substantive v. procedural issue.  But basically I was just pointing out in my prior post, that we have no idea how these conflicts might come into play.  We don't even know where these people are located and for that matter, exactly what they could be charged with anyway.  All I am able to do at this point is guess and theorize about what possible rights and remedies the players will all have.  But beyond that, in a criminal or civil context, we're likely dealing with international law as well. Treaties between the United States and whatever nation the would be defendant is in.  Can the US extradite him for a criminal case?  For a civil case, can a United States court assert personal jurisdiction over him?  Can the US court even seize any of his assets if they did?  Remember, in a civil context, a judgment without any assets to collect is only worth the paper it is written on.  Without assets to collect, why sue?  



Charlie Kelly: I'm pleading the 5th.  The Attorney: I would advise you do that.  Charlie Kelly: I'll take that advice under cooperation, alright? Now, let's say you and I go toe-to-toe on bird law and see who comes out the victor?  The Attorney: You know, I don't think I'm going to do anything close to that and I can clearly see you know nothing about the law.
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September 17, 2012, 04:10:37 PM
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What falls under illegal wagering/bookmaking?  Would Betsofbitco.in be in violation of it?  Would users of Betsofbitco.in be in violation of it?  If I write a post on the forum, telling people I will bet that Matthew won't pay anyone, and people take me up on it, does that make me in violation of it?
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September 17, 2012, 04:43:47 PM
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What falls under illegal wagering/bookmaking?  Would Betsofbitco.in be in violation of it?  Would users of Betsofbitco.in be in violation of it?  If I write a post on the forum, telling people I will bet that Matthew won't pay anyone, and people take me up on it, does that make me in violation of it?

The answer is, it depends.  Betsofbitco.in, from what I can see, operates on the exact same model as the famous prediction market intrade.com.  

Intrade.com is base in Ireland.  It is legal under Ireland laws.  Intrade offers the following disclaimer:
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"It is our policy, partly due to the ever changing nature of national and regional laws, to never offer individual legal opinions to applicant members. Our members are responsible for ensuring their activities are legal (and agree to this when opening an account)."

.in is a domain name from India.  Pretty safe to say I have no clue on what the laws are in India.  It appears from a quick Google search though, that India is becoming more relaxed in their "gambling" laws.  So it may very well be legal in India.  

What may not be legal, is for you, an individual in another country, to use the site.  That would be up to your individual state/country.  


Charlie Kelly: I'm pleading the 5th.  The Attorney: I would advise you do that.  Charlie Kelly: I'll take that advice under cooperation, alright? Now, let's say you and I go toe-to-toe on bird law and see who comes out the victor?  The Attorney: You know, I don't think I'm going to do anything close to that and I can clearly see you know nothing about the law.
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September 17, 2012, 08:24:40 PM
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Back on the subject of defamation, what are the legal liabilities/responsibilities of the operator(s) of a website when someone who is not related to the operator(s) posts a defamatory message on their site (i.e. a forum)?

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September 17, 2012, 08:35:32 PM
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I certainly hope people appreciate the service your are providing Nolo. I have been keeping up on your posts and they have been very informative and accurate from what I can tell. Thanks for spending some of your free time answering these questions.

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September 17, 2012, 09:00:41 PM
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Back on the subject of defamation, what are the legal liabilities/responsibilities of the operator(s) of a website when someone who is not related to the operator(s) posts a defamatory message on their site (i.e. a forum)?

Great question.  Fortunately, to help us answer this question there is a huge amount of litigation over this exact issue regarding newspapers/libraries/television/etc. 

What you refer to are "republishers".

Here's the common law on republishers:
One who repeats, or republishes, a defamatory statement is liable to the same extent as the "primary" publisher.  Furthermore, the liability of the "primary" publisher may increase where republication is either intended by him or is reasonably foreseeable.  Those who disseminate material containing defamatory statements (i.e., "secondary" publishers such as libraries, bookstores, and magazine vendors) are subject to liability only if they knew or should have known of the defamatory character of the material. 

The part in bold is the applicable law to message boards such as this one.  Basically, your responsibility would be to take down posts immediately once you have knowledge of (or if a reasonable person under the same circumstances should have knowledge of) the fact that the post is not true.  If you do this simple step you should be pretty well protected from liability for defamation.  If the same person persists in posting defamatory information, then you might have a higher duty to take additional steps such as banning the individual. 

But there is also a law that Congress passed that specifically protects individuals that run such sites and internet service providers.  Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, ISPs and website operators cannot be held liable for defamation for publishing statements that are were posted by someone else.

Hope this helps! 

Charlie Kelly: I'm pleading the 5th.  The Attorney: I would advise you do that.  Charlie Kelly: I'll take that advice under cooperation, alright? Now, let's say you and I go toe-to-toe on bird law and see who comes out the victor?  The Attorney: You know, I don't think I'm going to do anything close to that and I can clearly see you know nothing about the law.
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September 17, 2012, 09:01:12 PM
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I certainly hope people appreciate the service your are providing Nolo. I have been keeping up on your posts and they have been very informative and accurate from what I can tell. Thanks for spending some of your free time answering these questions.

Thank you! Happy to help!  Smiley

Charlie Kelly: I'm pleading the 5th.  The Attorney: I would advise you do that.  Charlie Kelly: I'll take that advice under cooperation, alright? Now, let's say you and I go toe-to-toe on bird law and see who comes out the victor?  The Attorney: You know, I don't think I'm going to do anything close to that and I can clearly see you know nothing about the law.
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September 17, 2012, 09:11:02 PM
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Hope this helps! 
Absolutely! I've been looking for the answer to this question on and off for a few months, so thank you.

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September 17, 2012, 09:42:02 PM
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Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, ISPs and website operators cannot be held liable for defamation for publishing statements that are were posted by someone else.
Does this mean that website operators do not have to remove defamatory statements even if they know it is defamatory?
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September 18, 2012, 01:52:27 AM
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Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, ISPs and website operators cannot be held liable for defamation for publishing statements that are were posted by someone else.
Does this mean that website operators do not have to remove defamatory statements even if they know it is defamatory?

I believe that's correct according to Zeran v. America Online, Inc. 129 F.3d 327 (4th Cir. 1997)

"[L]awsuits seeking to hold a service liable for its exercise of a publisher's traditional editorial functions – such as deciding whether to publish, withdraw, postpone or alter content – are barred. The purpose of this statutory immunity is not difficult to discern. Congress recognized the threat that tort-based lawsuits pose to freedom of speech in the new and burgeoning Internet medium.  Section 230 was enacted, in part, to maintain the robust nature of Internet communication."

This case is still good law, and the United States Supreme Court denied cert to hear the case. 

But doing what is legal, isn't necessarily doing what is "right".  So I still would advise clearly defamatory statements to be taken down, but it is not something a website operator should fear will lead to lawsuits. 

Charlie Kelly: I'm pleading the 5th.  The Attorney: I would advise you do that.  Charlie Kelly: I'll take that advice under cooperation, alright? Now, let's say you and I go toe-to-toe on bird law and see who comes out the victor?  The Attorney: You know, I don't think I'm going to do anything close to that and I can clearly see you know nothing about the law.
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September 18, 2012, 03:42:26 PM
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Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, ISPs and website operators cannot be held liable for defamation for publishing statements that are were posted by someone else.
Does this mean that website operators do not have to remove defamatory statements even if they know it is defamatory?

I believe that's correct according to Zeran v. America Online, Inc. 129 F.3d 327 (4th Cir. 1997)

"[L]awsuits seeking to hold a service liable for its exercise of a publisher's traditional editorial functions – such as deciding whether to publish, withdraw, postpone or alter content – are barred. The purpose of this statutory immunity is not difficult to discern. Congress recognized the threat that tort-based lawsuits pose to freedom of speech in the new and burgeoning Internet medium.  Section 230 was enacted, in part, to maintain the robust nature of Internet communication."

This case is still good law, and the United States Supreme Court denied cert to hear the case.  

But doing what is legal, isn't necessarily doing what is "right".  So I still would advise clearly defamatory statements to be taken down, but it is not something a website operator should fear will lead to lawsuits.  
Sure, that makes sense.  I just had a case on a rating site of mine (not bitcoin feedback) where the business owner threatened to sue me if I didn't remove particular statements about her business.  I did some quick research, and told her why I could not be sued over it, and that shut her up, but I wanted to be sure I was in the right about that!

EDIT:  And to be clear, it was a "he said, she said" sort of thing... no way for me to know if it was false or defamatory or not.  I felt like it was prudent to keep the feedback posted, and offered the business owner the opportunity to respond to the accusations.
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September 18, 2012, 06:23:05 PM
 #18

Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, ISPs and website operators cannot be held liable for defamation for publishing statements that are were posted by someone else.
Does this mean that website operators do not have to remove defamatory statements even if they know it is defamatory?

I believe that's correct according to Zeran v. America Online, Inc. 129 F.3d 327 (4th Cir. 1997)

"[L]awsuits seeking to hold a service liable for its exercise of a publisher's traditional editorial functions – such as deciding whether to publish, withdraw, postpone or alter content – are barred. The purpose of this statutory immunity is not difficult to discern. Congress recognized the threat that tort-based lawsuits pose to freedom of speech in the new and burgeoning Internet medium.  Section 230 was enacted, in part, to maintain the robust nature of Internet communication."

This case is still good law, and the United States Supreme Court denied cert to hear the case.  

But doing what is legal, isn't necessarily doing what is "right".  So I still would advise clearly defamatory statements to be taken down, but it is not something a website operator should fear will lead to lawsuits.  
Sure, that makes sense.  I just had a case on a rating site of mine (not bitcoin feedback) where the business owner threatened to sue me if I didn't remove particular statements about her business.  I did some quick research, and told her why I could not be sued over it, and that shut her up, but I wanted to be sure I was in the right about that!

EDIT:  And to be clear, it was a "he said, she said" sort of thing... no way for me to know if it was false or defamatory or not.  I felt like it was prudent to keep the feedback posted, and offered the business owner the opportunity to respond to the accusations.

Sounds like you handled the issue appropriately then.  That's pretty much the same thing the Better Business Bureau does (although I'm not sure if the substance of their complaints become public, they just give the other side the opportunity to respond.)  Even without Section 230 you would only be liable for defamation if you knew or reasonably should have known the statement was false and defamatory.  So based on what you've told me you have absolutely no liability. 

Charlie Kelly: I'm pleading the 5th.  The Attorney: I would advise you do that.  Charlie Kelly: I'll take that advice under cooperation, alright? Now, let's say you and I go toe-to-toe on bird law and see who comes out the victor?  The Attorney: You know, I don't think I'm going to do anything close to that and I can clearly see you know nothing about the law.
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September 21, 2012, 05:47:38 AM
 #19

Been a few days...just bumping the thread.  I'm kind of surprised all of my questions have been serious security law / civil law type questions.  I really thought most of them would be of a criminal nature around here Wink 

Charlie Kelly: I'm pleading the 5th.  The Attorney: I would advise you do that.  Charlie Kelly: I'll take that advice under cooperation, alright? Now, let's say you and I go toe-to-toe on bird law and see who comes out the victor?  The Attorney: You know, I don't think I'm going to do anything close to that and I can clearly see you know nothing about the law.
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September 21, 2012, 11:25:12 AM
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Been a few days...just bumping the thread.  I'm kind of surprised all of my questions have been serious security law / civil law type questions.  I really thought most of them would be of a criminal nature around here Wink 

You don´t see the community spirit and, am afraid, don´t really want to be part of it.

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