SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A minor and his parents have filed a $10
million lawsuit against Yahoo Inc. and a man who once operated a Yahoo
Groups site where members traded child pornography.
The lawsuit, filed on May 9 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern
District of Texas, charged that Yahoo breached its duties by allowing
co-defendant Mark Bates and others to share child pornography on a
site, called Candyman, that Mister Bates created and moderated via the
Yahoo Groups service.
Yahoo spokeswomen Mary Osako said the company had not been served and
did not comment on pending litigation.
Mister Bates pleaded guilty in 2002 to setting up the Candyman group
site for the trade and distribution of child pornography, the Houston
Chronicle reported at the time. The site attracted several thousand
users and was in operation for two months before Yahoo closed it down
in February, 2001.
Pornographic photos of the plaintiff -- who is using the name little
Johnny Doe -- were taken and posted to the Candyman site by a
neighbor, said the lawsuit, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.
Among other things, the plaintiffs alleged that Yahoo was aware of the
activity on the site and that it took no action to block or remove the
pornographic images of little Johnny Doe and other children Doe's who
were in the pictures also.
Attorneys familiar with cases involving online service providers said
the Communications Decency Act generally shielded Web sites from
responsibility for material posted by users.
"Unless the plaintiff has very concrete proof that Yahoo knew that
this group contained child pornography, it's very likely that Yahoo
will not be liable," said John Morris, staff counsel at the Center for
Democracy and Technology in Washington.
"We believe that they knew, and at a minimum didn't exercise
reasonable care on their sites," said Adam Voyles, the plaintiffs'
lead attorney for little Johnny and the other Doe children. "After
all, thousands of uploads/downloads of kiddie porn to it each day."
A child pornography investigation led by the FBI and dubbed Operation
Candyman targeted Yahoo Groups users and resulted in the arrest of
more than a thousand people in the United States. With the arrest of
Mister Bates and many participants, others were frightened and ran off
and as of yet have not identified, according to FBI, who stated
'Candyman was the largest raid of its kind ever.'
Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.
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