A Mississippi court has recently ruled that an article and consumer comments posted on a television news station's website about a former reporter of that station does not constitute "cyber libel."

Here's the background information in Miles v. Raycom Media, Inc.:

Toni Miles was a news anchor at a television station in Mississippi. On October 24, 2008, she was arrested during a drug raid at a home she was visiting. After the incident, the news director at the TV station informed Miles her contract would not be renewed.
   
Miles brought an action against the TV station for a variety of claims, including sex discrimination, defamation and false light. In a separate claim, Miles also said the television station allowed cyber libel" against her by running a news article on its webpage and "subsequently allow[ing] unfiltered online comments which contained false information."  She did not allege that the defendants wrote or revised the false comments.  Ms. Miles acknowledged that the comments were not filtered by defendants.
   
The defendants filed a motion to dismiss.

The court granted the TV station's motion to dismiss the case, claiming Miles failed to state a claim for false light or defamation. The court noted Miles did not contend any statement in the article was false.

The TV station argued they are immune from liability under the Communications Decency Act ("CDA"), Section 230(c)(1). This regulation states: "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."

The court ruled the defendants are immune from liability under the CDA for the alleged defamatory third-party comments published on its website. The ruling pointed out that Miles had complained the "defendants merely allowed the comments, and there is no indication or allegation that the defendants encouraged defamatory comments on their website."

The bottom line: the Communications Decency Act protected the television station for its online article and the ensuing public comments. The key factor to the court ruling was that the plaintiff, Toni Miles, never claimed the article encouraged the public to post any defamatory comments.