category ‘openly promis[ing] sex for money.” 120
While the Dart court cited Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v.
Roommates.com for the concept that an ISP can be both a service provider and a publisher or
content provider, 121 it then concluded that the users of Craigslist, not the site itself, provide the
offensive information. 122 The court reasoned that “newspapers and magazines may be held liable
for publishing ads that harm third parties,”123 and “[ i]nformation content providers’ may be liable
for contributory infringement if their system is designed to help people steal music or other
material in copyright.”124 It concluded, however, that Craigslist does not induce anyone to post
any particular listing and is thus not liable as a publisher.125 Finally, the court stated:
[p]laintiff’s argument that Craigslist causes or induces illegal content is further
undercut . . . by the fact that Craigslist repeatedly warns users not to post such
content. [If] users routinely flout Craigslist’s guidelines, it is not because
Craigslist has caused them to do so . . . . It does not cause or induce anyone to
create, post, or search for illegal content.126
In short, Sheriff Dart gave a detailed description of how the site is used to commit illegal
acts and how the adult/erotic services section is designed for that purpose. Nevertheless, the
court concluded that the CDA provides immunity to Craigslist under federal criminal law as a
publisher or speaker, and that providing a category such as “adult services” “is not unlawful in
itself nor does it necessarily call for unlawful content.”127
Similarly, the court in Doe v. Bates concluded that, while Plaintiffs alleged that Yahoo!
violated a criminal statute when it hosted illegal child pornography on an e-group discussion
forum named "Candyman," the CDA provided immunity.128 “The purpose of the Candyman E-group was to provide a forum for sharing, posting, emailing, and transmitting hard-core, illegal
child pornography.”129 The court explained, “[w]hile the facts of a child pornography case such
as this one may be highly offensive, Congress has decided that the parties to be punished and
deterred are not the Internet service providers but rather are those who created and posted the
Equally concerning is the Doe v. Bates court’s treatment of the knowledge allegation in
the case. Yahoo! knowingly received and displayed the pornographic photographs of children.131
Nevertheless, the court ignored the plain language of the CDA and stated, “Section 230 does not .
121 Id. at 968 (citing Fair Hous. Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommates.com, LLC, 521 F.3d 1157, 1162-63 (9th Cir. 2008)).
122 Id. at 967. The court further stated, “intermediaries like phone companies, ISPs, and computer manufacturers…are not culpable for
‘aiding and abetting’ their customers who misuse their services to commit unlawful acts.” Id.
123 Id. (citing Braun v. Soldier of Fortune Magazine, Inc., 968 F.2d 1110, 1114 (11th Cir. 1992)).
124 Id. at 968 (citing Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., 545 U.S. 913, 931 (2005)).
125 Id. at 969.
127 Id. at 968.
128 Doe v. Bates, 5:05-CV-91-DF-CMC, 2006 WL 3813758, at 5 (E.D. Tex. Dec. 27, 2006).
129 Id. at 5-6.
130 Id. at 4.
131 Id. at 6. Yahoo! “knew” about the Candyman e-group because co-Defendant Bates had to obtain Yahoo!’s consent and
authorization to moderate the group. Id. Further, Plaintiffs argued that Yahoo! “knew or had reason to know about the illegal nature”
of the Candyman e-group content due to the fact that it was in an adult entertainment subcategory, the introductory webpage
specifically indicated that it was for persons who “love kids,” and any type of message, video or picture, including pornography, could
be posted on the site. Id.