Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(September 1996)

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Subject: RE: List owner named in law suit (fwd)
From: "Gabb, Andrew" <apg @ itd . erl . dsto . defence . gov . au>
Date: Tue, 03 Sep 96 09:33:00 CST
To: list-managers <list-managers @ GreatCircle . COM>

>Date: Wed, 28 Aug 1996 16:52:36 -0400 (EDT)
>From: Clay Irving <clay @
 panix .
>Subject: List owner named in law suit
>I can't believe this one!
>Peter Laws, a recent graduate of the University of Arkansas, maintains
>an electronic mailing list called "SCAN-L". The list is provided for
>radio scanning enthusiasts. There are a few hundred subscribers to the 
>Recently, in a thread about scanning publications, an employee of
>publication "A" apparently wrote something to offend someone at publication
>Lo and behold, next thing you know, Peter is named in a lawsuit because he 
>the maintainer of the list.
>Something seems very, very wrong with this. I've never heard of
>anything like this before. Can a Email list maintainer be held liable for
>something someone else writes?

I suspect that an attempt will be made to liken a mailing list to a 
newspaper, in which case the last question can be answered with a qualified 

The obvious defence is that the list manager has no control over what is 
written, only providing a reflector service to those who want to hear what 
others say.  This defence will be weakened, of course, if you censor (or 
rather filter) certain mailings or membership, or if the mailing list is 
moderated.  In the latter case, the list manager is exercising editorial 
control to some extent.  And with that comes some measure of responsibility. 
 Not a nice situation, really.

Andrew Gabb                     Andrew .
 Gabb @
 dsto .
 defence .
 gov .
Information Technology Division
Defence Science and Technology Organisation
Ph  +61 8 8259 5505    Fax +61 8 8259 5980
171 Labs ITD/DSTO, P.O. Box 1500, Salisbury SA 5108, Australia

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