View Full Version : Discussions of illegal activities on message boards

04-01-2004, 04:06 PM
Now, before everyone gets riled up, this is NOT a discussion of the SDMB's policies being right, or an abridgement of free speech or anything like that. Instead, I'm more concerned about the why and legal history of the imprecation in the Registration agreement:
You agree, through your use of this service, that you will not use the SDMB to post any material that is knowingly false and/or defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, profane, threatening, invasive of a person's privacy, or otherwise violative of any U.S. law. You agree not to post any material that in our opinion fosters or promotes illegal activity.

Situation 1: Now, say I decide to start a thread on shoplifting, and the best techniques for doing it (not that I would). People chime in and several examples are given, along with stories about the good old days when shoplifting was an artform, not merely an occupation, etc., etc. Also, say the SDMB allows this discussion to continue, and not ban me. What are the repercussions of this? Can I be sued (successfully)? Can the SDMB be sued? Can either or both of us be held criminally responsible, either for activities which we described, or activities we ourselves participated in?

Situation 2: The SDMB sees the huge growth in the shoplifiting sector, and decides to create a new website and message board dedicated exclusively to it. While there are statements on the message board pages saying that the SDMB does not encourage shoplifiting, discussion of shoplifting does occur. Does the situation change at all?

I guess I'm looking for opinions (not advice) from either lawyers, those who play them on TV, or people familiar with law surrounding message boards, or history of message boards or users that were held liable for this sort of thing. Definitely not looking for opinions on whether they should allow drug discussions or whatever on the SDMB.