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Websites Don’t Have to Remove Nasty Comments

CHICAGO (CN) - A website's host and manager are not bound by an injunction that ordered the removal of defamatory comments because they were not "in active concert or participation" with those who posted the comments, the 7th Circuit ruled.

David, Mary and Lisa Blockowicz sued Joseph David Williams and Michelle Ramey for defamation in June 2009 over statements they posted on several websites, including, where "users post comments about bad business practices."

The Blockowiczs won an injunction requiring Williams and Ramey to remove the comments, and they asked the websites to intervene when the pair never responded. Every site complied but Rip Off Report.

A federal judge denied the Blockowiczs' request to enforce the injunction against Xcentric Ventures and Ed Magedson, third parties that hosted and managed Rip Off Report, respectively.

On appeal, the Blockowiczs argued that the Xcentric and Magedson had "actual notice" of the injunction, and aided and abetted Williams and Ramey in violating it.

But the three-judge panel held that Xcentric and Magedson were not bound by the injunction pursuant to a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure.

The Blockowiczs' strategy was "not the appropriate mechanism for achieving the removal of the ... posts," Judge Joel Flaum wrote for the court.

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