Court Stands by Dismissal Ruling in Favor of Google and YouTube in Content Creators’ Discrimination Suit

On Tuesday, Magistrate Judge Virginia K. DeMarchi issued an opinion in a case brought by video content creators who identify as LGBTQ+ against Google and YouTube for censoring and demonetizing their content. In the five-page decision, the court ruled that a recent Fourth Circuit opinion did not change its prior conclusion that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act’s (CDA) shields the defendants from the California discrimination and unfair business practice law claims.

The judge said that the plaintiffs contested the October dismissal ruling with leave of court, alternatively asking for Judge DeMarchi to enter judgment on the relevant claims in order for the plaintiffs to appeal them. In the last dismissal decision, the court sustained YouTube’s CDA defense as barring both the California Unruh Act and Unfair Competition Law (UCL) claims that targeted the defendant’s “publishing function.”

In this week’s opinion Judge DeMarchi found that the Fourth Circuit decision, ostensibly representing a change in law, was inapposite.

The court explained that the opinion expressly declined to rule on the question present in the instant litigation: whether immunity applies when a claim seeks to hold a party liable for a decision not to publish under CDA Section 230(c)(1). Judge DeMarchi noted that moreover, the opinion is not binding. 

“[W]hile the scope of Section 230(c)(1) immunity is not unlimited, the Fourth Circuit’s narrow construction of Section 230(c)(1) appears to be at odds with Ninth Circuit decisions indicating that the scope of the statute’s protection is much broader,” the court remarked.

Judge DeMarchi further declined the plaintiffs’ alternative request to enter judgment on the Unruh Act and UCL claims as it might cause an appellate court to duplicate its efforts if there was an immediate appeal and another one following the final disposition of plaintiffs’ other claims. 

The plaintiffs are represented by Ellis George Cipollone O’Brien Annaguey LLP and Google and YouTube by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.