March 27, 2024
YouTube Defeated: Apple Co-founder Emerges Victorious in Bitcoin Scam Legal Showdown
Bitcoin News

YouTube Defeated: Apple Co-founder Emerges Victorious in Bitcoin Scam Legal Showdown

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has emerged victorious in the latest legal skirmish against YouTube, marking a significant development in a protracted court battle over the unauthorized use of his likeness in doctored videos promoting a Bitcoin scam back in 2020.

Appeals Court Overrules Previous Judgment

A San Jose appeals court recently overturned a lower court ruling that had absolved YouTube of any liability in the matter. The latest verdict underscores the court’s rejection of YouTube’s reliance on a contentious communications statute to evade responsibility for the fraudulent scheme exploiting Wozniak’s popularity.

The new ruling allows Wozniak to press forward with his lawsuit against the video streaming giant, potentially signalling a shift in the federal law safeguarding platforms like YouTube from liability associated with content posted on their platforms.

Background of the Lawsuit

In 2020, Wozniak, along with 17 other prominent figures including Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Michael Dell, filed a lawsuit against YouTube and its parent company, Google. The legal action was prompted by the proliferation of doctored videos on YouTube promoting a fake Bitcoin scam.

The fraudulent videos, featuring manipulated footage, falsely promised free Bitcoin and urged viewers to send cryptocurrency to a specified address with the promise of receiving double the amount.

Court Observations

The appeals court judges highlighted the vulnerability of popular YouTube channels to hacking to promote scams. They asserted that Google and YouTube materially contributed to the scam by providing verification badges to compromised channels and failing to remove these badges even after the channels began disseminating scam content.

The ruling challenges the immunity typically afforded to platforms under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. By observing that companies may not be shielded by Section 230 immunity if they contribute to fraudulent activities, the court sets a precedent for greater accountability among online platforms.

Response from Wozniak’s Lawyer

In response to the verdict, Joe Cotchett, Wozniak’s lawyer, emphasized the importance of holding social media platforms accountable for their actions. Cotchett underscored the verdict as a rejection of using Section 230 as a “total shield” for platform conduct.

Steve Wozniak’s legal victory against YouTube signifies a step forward in the ongoing battle to regulate online content and ensure accountability among digital platforms. As the lawsuit progresses, it could prompt broader discussions on the responsibilities of tech giants in curbing misinformation and fraudulent activities online.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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