The conventional wisdom about §230 is that the tech sector is lucky that Zeran v. America Online was the first federal appellate decision to interpret the statute. By affirming the dismissal of Ken Zeran’s lawsuit against America Online, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit set a precedent that would be difficult for other federal and state courts to overlook. A case involving circumstances that were even more tragic than Zeran’s might have resulted in a different first interpretation of §230.

But the outcome in Zeran v. America Online is not entirely a result of the facts of the case. Section 230 caselaw might look very different today had other judges been assigned to Zeran v. America Online. In particular, then-Chief Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III’s authorship of the Zeran opinion was crucial.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]