YouTube can’t be held liable for cryptocurrency scams

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Posted on: July 22, 2020 5:54 pm EDT

The video streaming platform looks to have a lawsuit launched against it by Ripple thrown out

As a result of the multiple cryptocurrency scams that happened on the video-sharing platform YouTube over the past few months, Ripple and CEO Brad Garlinghouse filed a lawsuit against the company back in April. These scammers hacked streamers’ channels and impersonated the company’s CEO to offer a giveaway and ask for money to be sent to crypto addresses. In responding to the lawsuit, YouTube’s lawyers have asked that a judge dismiss the case, arguing that the platform can’t be held responsible.

Ripple considers that YouTube is profiting from paid ads featured in those videos while it failed to stop the hacked channel in a timely manner. However, YouTube’s legal team claims that the platform is immune from liability for cryptocurrency scams because they are being perpetrated by third party content creators.

According to an update posted yesterday on Law360, the giant broadcasting platform presented a motion to dismiss the case by citing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. This legislation generally protects platform publishers from any responsibility for the information that third-party users are providing, and, according to the lawyers, this section applies to this case.

YouTube’s legal representation stated that the claimed “unwitting verification” of these scam channels doesn’t change the fact that the actual content was created by third parties, not YouTube itself. They also added that because Ripple is not alleging that YouTube actually “solicited, encouraged, or participated in the third-party fraudsters’ scam,” there shouldn’t be any liability.

Ripple’s lawsuit lists 305 different channels that were specifically impersonating Garlinghouse. The scammers were taking over unrelated but verified channels in the platform to then modify the content and layout to make it look like a legitimate give away coming from a verified account. YouTube’s legal team added that “the right of publicity law protects individuals’ names, images or voices from being used for commercial purposes without permission, but Ripple’s suit alleges that a third-party hacker employed Garlinghouse’s identity in its videos, not YouTube.”