From my non-lawyer reading, it seems the prime protection in section 230 is clause (c)(1):

(1)Treatment of publisher or speaker

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.

From section (f)(2) it would seem that youtube and spotify are interactive computer services. If say spotify provides me with a file containing music, and I use youtube or bittorrent to distribute it am I not considered publisher or speaker of the result, therefore am not liable for copyright infringement? It would also seem that I avoid the obligations that are put on the providers of these systems, as the obligations section only specifies provider not user, unlike this section.

1 Answer 1


No. There are certain provisions of section 230 that carve out what liability these companies have for third party (i.e. User) speech on their web pages in 230(e). 230(e)(2) says that nothing in Section 230 may be construed to limit or expand laws reguarding intellectual property. These services are still on the hook if users post trademark or copyright infringing material to the site.

Other such matters similarly not permitted include obscenities laws, exploitation of children laws, state laws, communications privacy laws, and sex trafficing laws.

As a special note that section 230 was created to allow for emerging internet technologies and buisness to not have to worry about third party speech on their platform from holding them liable as a publisher. Thus, if I was to sue youtube for defamation of character based on a video you uploaded, calling me a Sith Lord, I could not sue Youtube (who has lots of money) but would rather have to sue you (who I presume does not have lots of money... at least not youtube/Google levels of money). Thus youtube cannot be civilily liable. It can still be criminally liable and liable for copyright infringement.

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