Stratton Oakmont, Inc. v. Prodigy Services Co.

May 25, 1995:

This was the second of two contradicting Supreme Court cases in the 1990s relating to the liability of online platforms for user-generated content published on their sites. This legal discrepancy was the impetus for Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. In Stratton Oakmont v. Prodigy, the courts ruled that if an online platform was actively censoring or editing user-generated content, they could be held liable for that content since they were, in effect, acting as a publisher. The courts had previously ruled in Cubby, Inc. v. CompuServe Inc. (1991) that they would not consider online platforms to be publishers if they did not audit user-generated content. In this case, servers would be regarded as digital libraries and could not be held liable. The inconsistencies in these two cases required clarification of Section 230.