SCOTUS Rejects NCOSE-Promoted Lawsuit Targeting Reddit

SCOTUS Rejects NCOSE-Promoted Lawsuit Targeting Reddit

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to take up an NCOSE-sponsored case that sought to create liability for Reddit over third-party user material, using FOSTA-SESTA to bypass Section 230 protections.

As XBIZ reported, in October 2022 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld a district court’s dismissal of the original civil lawsuit, which was filed in April 2021 by attorneys for pseudonymous Jane and John Does.

The judges held that Section 230 shields Reddit from a civil suit filed by attorneys for anonymous plaintiffs who allege that Reddit users “posted and circulated sexually explicit images and videos of minors online.”

As an interactive computer services provider, the judges wrote, Reddit “generally enjoys immunity from liability for user-posted content under Section 230.”

The plaintiffs had also invoked the controversial FOSTA carve-out, claiming that Section 230 immunity does not apply to claims of child sex trafficking when the conduct underlying the claim violates the criminal child sex trafficking statute.

The Ninth Circuit, however, concluded that since the plaintiffs did not allege that Reddit knowingly participated in or benefited from sex trafficking, they therefore “failed to state a sex trafficking claim.”

NCOSE used the original lawsuit’s appeal to the Ninth Circuit to fundraise as part of its ongoing campaign to eradicate all user-generated sexual content on Reddit, regardless of legality.

NCOSE considers all sexually explicit content, regardless of consent, to be exploitative, likens it to trafficking, and has denied the very possibility of consensual sex work.

Section 230 Remains Law of the Land

By refusing to hear the case, SCOTUS confirmed the Ninth Circuit ruling, which, as industry attorney and First Amendment expert Lawrence Walters of Walters Law Group wrote for XBIZ World, “clarified a complex web of lower court decisions that struggled with the required level of knowledge to hold an online platform liable for civil sex trafficking claims.”

With the Ninth Circuit decision now affirmed by the highest court, Walters explained, the requirement for civil claimants to demonstrate that online platforms actually participated in or had knowledge of sex trafficking, for the Section 230 carve-out to apply, is “the law of the land.” 

“The decision also constitutes persuasive authority for the remaining courts and has brought some stability to the legal climate facing online platforms and, by extension, content creators who rely on such platforms,” Walters added.

Walters told XBIZ on Tuesday that the court was justified in not taking this case. 

“The Ninth Circuit’s decision rested on sound legal reasoning and does not conflict with any other circuit court decision on how FOSTA’s exception to Section 230 immunity should be interpreted with respect to civil sex trafficking claims,” he noted.

According to Walters, the case also would have been a poor vehicle for the court to address these issues.

“The complaint did not clearly allege sex trafficking violations, but relied on generalized references to how Reddit deals with CSAM complaints,” he noted. “Not all CSAM involves sex trafficking, so the court may have decided to wait for a case involving clearer allegations of sex trafficking before wading into these issues.”

Industry attorney Corey Silverstein expressed satisfaction that SCOTUS did not interfere with the Ninth Circuit’s decision. He told XBIZ that there was no reason for the court to take up the case, since both the District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled correctly. 

“Depending on how interested you are in reading in between the lines and doing a little speculating, it’s quite possible that the Supreme Court is sending a clear message that it isn’t going to mess around with Section 230 and it intends on leaving it to Congress, if it wants to make changes,” Silverstein said.

Three Rulings Confirming Protections

The Supreme Court’s decision comes only a few weeks after rulings in cases against Twitter and YouTube/Google also reasserted Section 230 protections.

On May 18, SCOTUS weighed in on the cases Gonzalez v. Google and Twitter v. Taamneh. In a unanimous decision written by Justice Clarence Thomas , SCOTUS held that the tech companies’ conduct “did not constitute aiding and abetting because they did not knowingly provide substantial assistance to the groups in carrying out the terrorist act in question,” legal news site Law360 reported at the time.

CNN Supreme Court analyst and University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck told CNN on Tuesday that “after the justices avoided any meaningful ruling on the scope of immunity for tech companies in the Google case, today’s denial of review in the Reddit case suggests that their aversion was more than just about the Google case, specifically — and that the court is willing, at least for now, to leave any changes to Section 230 to Congress. There are other important big tech cases in the pipeline, but this seems to confirm that the justices aren’t going to come back to Section 230 anytime soon.” 

Copyright © 2024 Adnet Media. All Rights Reserved. XBIZ is a trademark of Adnet Media.
Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission is prohibited.

More News

Conservative Taxpayers Group Criticizes KOSA's Overreach

Conservative newspaper The Washington Times published Tuesday an opinion piece by the executive director of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance criticizing KOSA on constitutional grounds.

Los Angeles-Area Man Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud Over Bogus Adult Sites

A Los Angeles-area man pleaded guilty on Monday to defrauding investors out of more than $1 million “by making false promises that they would receive an ownership interest in several adult entertainment webcam websites and then using their money on personal expenses, including luxury items,” according to the Department of Justice.

More Conservative Organizations Distance Themselves From Anti-Porn Project 2025

A growing list of conservative groups that previously endorsed Project 2025 — which calls for the criminalization of adult content production and distribution — have reportedly distanced themselves from the self-described “presidential transition” blueprint, following Donald Trump’s repeated claims that he disagrees with an unspecified number of its positions.

BranditScan Unveils Protection Plan for Adult Studios

BranditScan has launched a new content protection plan tailored specifically for adult studios.

CAM4 Debuts Weekly 'Skyy Knox's CAM Crawl' Livestream

CAM4 is launching "Skyy Knox’s CAM Crawl," a new livestream running every Sunday at 3 p.m. PDT.

Texas Judge Pauses AG Ken Paxton's Aylo Lawsuit Until SCOTUS Decision

A Texas district judge granted a request Wednesday to pause proceedings in the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Ken Paxton against Aylo over Pornhub’s alleged failure to implement Texas’ controversial age verification requirements, pending the outcome of the Free Speech Coalition-led lawsuit against Paxton, which will be heard by the Supreme Court during the next term.

Author of UN Report Recommending Worldwide Criminalization of Sex Work, Porn to Speak at NCOSE Summit

Jordanian activist Reem Alsalem, a special rapporteur on violence against women and girls at the United Nations Human Rights Council who recently issued a controversial report recommending that governments abolish all forms of sex work, including porn, will speak at anti-porn lobby NCOSE’s 2024 summit in August.

Spicey AI Voice Chat Platform Launches

Spicey AI, a platform that uses artificial intelligence to create interactive voice messages from chatbots based on adult performers, has launched.

Derek Hay Sentencing Hearing: Performers Give Impact Statements

The first day of the sentencing hearing for LA Direct Models’ Derek Hay, who pleaded guilty in May to one charge of conspiracy to commit pandering and a charge of perjury, took place in Los Angeles Wednesday.

Utherverse to Host 8th Annual VirtualCon in September

Virtual reality and metaverse technology company Utherverse will hold the eighth edition of its annual virtual conference, VirtualCon, from Sept. 26-28.

Show More