By Brad Friedman on 11/20/2006, 4:45pm PT  

Phew...We're firing our lawyers forthwith...From MSNBC today...

The California Supreme Court ruled Monday that bloggers and participants in Internet bulletin board groups cannot be sued for posting defamatory statements made by others.

In deciding a case closely watched by free speech groups, the court said a federal law gives immunity from libel suits not only to Internet service providers, like AOL, but also to bloggers and other users of their services.

"Subjecting Internet service providers and users to defamation liability would tend to chill online speech," today's unanimous ruling said.

The decision (http://www.courtinfo.ca....ns/documents/S122953.PDF) is a victory for Internet free speech advocates, who warned that a contrary outcome could have affected users of newsgroups, blogs, listservs, and bulletin boards who enter those forums to discuss the views of others. A loss could even have jeopardized websites run by students to evaluate their professors, said the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation in friend of court briefs.