Yahoo wins round in nude photo court battle

Yahoo has won a legal battle over its long delay in removing nude photos that an Oregon woman claimed her ex-boyfriend posted on its website without her knowledge or permission.

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed that internet service providers such as Yahoo are generally protected from liability for materials published or posted on their sites by outside parties.

But the court left open the possibility that the woman, Cecilia Barnes, could sue Yahoo over whether it had promised to remove the photos and the unauthorised profile, amounting to a breach of contract.

Barnes filed a lawsuit in 2005 in Portland claiming her ex-boyfriend not only posted nude photos taken of her without her knowledge or consent, but also created a fraudulent profile with personal information and posed as her in an online chat room to solicit sex.

As the court noted: "Before long, men whom Barnes did not know were peppering her office with emails, phone calls and personal visits, all in the expectation of sex."

"This case stems from a dangerous, cruel and highly indecent use of the internet for the apparent purpose of revenge," Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain wrote.

According to court documents, even after Barnes notified Yahoo the profile was fraudulent and unauthorised, the Sunnyvale, California-based company failed to remove it for months - despite media attention - until Barnes filed a lawsuit.

Nonetheless, the court rejected arguments that Yahoo was negligent for failing to immediately remove the material.

In the opinion issued last week by O'Scannlain, the court said Yahoo was protected under a 1996 federal law that gives broad immunity to service providers to encourage the open exchange of material on the internet by its users.

The logic was that service providers shouldn't be liable for what their users do online, similar to the way phone companies aren't responsible for private conversations used to plan crimes.

Based on that provision, courts across the country have repeatedly sided with service providers in disputes over users' conduct.

Barnes' attorney, Thomas Rask of Portland, said internet service providers are getting a "blanket immunity" that "doesn't make sense."

"We've always argued you can't be immune for everything," Rask said.

Rask said Barnes will now pursue a breach of contract claim, adding that his client was "happy the court allowed her case to move forward at least in part." Barnes claimed that a Yahoo official promised to immediately remove the photos when a local TV station was preparing a report, but never followed through.

Yahoo officials released a statement today saying they were pleased with the ruling and were evaluating any breach of contract claim.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Analyst

    £20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Managed IT Services Provid...

    Recruitment Genius: 1st / 2nd Line IT Support Engineer

    £20000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This specialist high tech compa...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Designer / Developer

    £12000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: New Full-time, Part-time and Fr...

    Recruitment Genius: Creative Web and UI Designer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An experienced creative web and...

    Day In a Page

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific