TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Suit Against My Space Dismissed by Texas Court

Suit Against My Space Dismissed by Texas Court

Reuters News Wire (
Wed, 14 Feb 2007 22:54:15 -0600

News Corp.'s MySpace said on Wednesday a federal court dismissed a
negligence lawsuit filed by the family of a teenage girl who was
sexually assaulted by someone she met on the popular Internet social

Judge Sam Sparks of the U.S. District Court for the Western district
of Texas granted MySpace's motion to dismiss the charges of
negligence, fraud and negligent misrepresentation.

The high profile suit was filed last year by the family of the Austin,
Texas girl, who was attacked by a 19-year-old man she met on the Web

The suit and reports of other victims of predators made the popular
service a target of child protection advocates. MySpace users share
information about their lives by posting photos, blogs and videos.

In dismissing the suit, Judge Sparks said that as an "interactive
service," MySpace was protected from materials posted on its site by
the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996. Sparks explained that
the CDA is aimed at allowing Internet and other interactive services
to continue to develop.

"To ensure that Web site operators and other interactive computer
services would not be crippled by lawsuits arising out of third party
communications, the Act provides interactive computer services with
immunity," Sparks' ruling said.

Sparks noted also that the girl lied about her age, posing as an
18-year-old when she was only 13, and registered for an account.
MySpace's minimum age requirement is 14. The girl's name was not
divulged because of her age.

Adam Loewy, a partner in Austin-based law firm Barry & Loewy LLP, who
represented the family, said they planned to appeal the dismissal of
the negligence charge and to refile charges of fraud and
misrepresentation in a different court "in the very near future."

"We intend to fully prevail in this litigation," Loewy told Reuters in
a phone interview.

MySpace separately faces several other lawsuits filed in state court
in Los Angeles by families of teenage girl victims of predators they
met on the service.

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, said the
ruling could be "persuasive" to the remaining suits, which were filed
in state court. But Sparks' decision in federal court would not be

Family protection groups have criticized MySpace, saying the Rupert
Murdoch-controlled company had failed to provide safeguards such as
age verification rules to protect its large group of teen users.

Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited

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