GoDaddy Revenge Porn Case May Head to the Texas Supreme Court

Apr 11, 2014 12:15 PM PST

BEAUMONT, Texas — Yesterday a Texas appeals court ruled that a group of revenge porn victims could not sue for hosting offending content. But the group’s lawyer, John Morgan, disagrees, and says he is taking the case to the Texas Supreme Court. 

"I am going to file a Petition for Review with  the Texas Supreme Court,” Morgan told XBIZ. “I respectfully disagree with the Ninth Court’s ruling, so I shall hope the Texas Supreme Court grants review over this decision.

"This matter involves very important constitutional issues, and I will develop these issues in more detail when I apply for review to the Texas Supreme Court.”

Hollie Toups and 16 other women had filed a breach of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence suit last year against and GoDaddy in Orange County District Court.

The plaintiffs acknowledged that GoDaddy did not have a hand in creating the offensive material, but they claimed that it knew of the content, refused to take it down and profited from it.

While the trial court refused to dismiss the claims against GoDaddy, a three-judge panel with the 9th District Court of Appeals in Beaumont reversed the decision yesterday.

"Allowing plaintiffs' to assert any cause of action against GoDaddy for publishing content created by a third party, or for refusing to remove content created by a third party, would be squarely inconsistent with Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act,” Justice Charles Kreger wrote for the court. "Because GoDaddy acted only as an interactive computer service provider and was not an information content provider with regard to the material published on the websites, plaintiffs cannot maintain claims against GoDaddy that treat it as a publisher of that material."

Kreger added that the Communications Decency Act (CDA) grants immunity even in cases involving illegal and obscene material and that limiting its application to suits involving constitutionally protected material would “undermine its purpose.”

Because the plaintiffs have amended their case three times, Kreger barred further revision.

Section 230 of the CDC has become a central focus in the recent push to prosecute revenge porn offenders, with some lauding the law as a Constitutional safe haven and others deriding it as a cop out.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) announced at the end of March that she is preparing to introduce federal legislation to criminalize revenge porn, and hopes to bring the bill to Congress sometime this month. A federal ban would effectively override Section 230, making webmasters and even search engines culpable any illegal content linked to their sites or services.

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