Ron Newman (2021)

Monsarrat v. Newman, Civ. A. No. 1:20-cv-10810 (D. Mass. Jan. 21, 2021)

We prevailed over copyright infringement and defamation claims arising out of decade-old comments on an online discussion board. In a LiveJournal user community focused on Somerville’s Davis Square neighborhood, one member’s 2010 arrest sparked a lengthy discussion thread about him. In 2013, he sued a moderator of the forum and other commenters for defamation, but voluntarily dismissed the suit with prejudice before any motions to dismiss were filed. Then in 2017, LiveJournal changed its terms of service and the moderators migrated the forum to a new host server. The same member sued the moderator again in 2020, asserting that the migration was a “republication” that gave rise to renewed claims over the same comments. We moved to dismiss, and showed that the complaint was baseless: the immunity provided under 47 U.S.C. § 230 over user-generated content defeated the member’s defamation claims, and maintaining a record on the new host site of his own comments was a fair use, not an infringement. The district court promptly dismissed the sequel lawsuit.