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Politech is the oldest Internet resource devoted to politics and technology. Launched in 1994 by Declan McCullagh, the mailing list has chronicled the growing intersection of law, culture, technology, and politics. Since 2000, so has the Politech web site.

Museum Security News Net-libel case may finally be over

I've placed the text of the decision here (make sure your reader can 
handle multi-page TIFF images):
http://www.politechbot.com/docs/museum.security.news.decision.031705.tiff

Previous Politech messages;
http://www.politechbot.com/p-04906.html
http://www.politechbot.com/p-03543.html

-Declan

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Museum Security News case ends (maybe) - not with a bang, but	a 
whimper
Date: Thu, 17 Mar 2005 16:42:21 -0500
From: Paul Levy <plevy@citizen.org>
To: <declan@well.com>

The federal trial court in LA has dismissed the suit by Ellen Batzel
against Ton Cremers  over his reposting on his "Museum Security News"
listserv an accusation by one Robert Smith that Batzel had bragged about
having an art collection stolen from Jewish families by the Nazis.  From
aught that now appears, the accusation was not only false, but may have
been motivated by an unrelated dispute between Batzel and Smith.

You reported on this case back when it was first decided, first in the
trial court and then on appeal, because of the important issues it
raised about the utility of the Communications Decency Act's immunity
provisions for those who republish defamatory communications on a
listserv.  And we had filed amicus in the Ninth Circuit both in support
of allowing Cremers appeal to go forward, and in support of reversal for
further consideration of his CDA defense.

The new dismissal avoids all those issues, however, on the ground that
Batzel had originally sued Cremers in North Carolina, failed to serve
Cremers with that suit, and then permitted that suit to be dismissed for
failure to prosecute.  The court held that the North Carolina dismissal
was res judicata.

It remains to be seen whether Batzel will appeal.  It is also unclear
from the opinion whether Smith remains a party to the case in LA (if he
does, then the case cannot be appealed until that part of the case also
ends, unless the judge gives special permission).

I am attaching the ruling in electronic form; so far as I know it is
not posted or reported anywhere.

Paul Alan Levy
Public Citizen Litigation Group
1600 - 20th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009
(202) 588-1000
http://www.citizen.org/litigation

Posted by Declan McCullagh on Mar 18, 2005 in category free-speech


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