Apple Co-Founder’s Win Against YouTube in Bitcoin Scam Lawsuit

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has won a legal victory in his battle against YouTube over the use of manipulated videos featuring his image in a Bitcoin scam. The appeals court in San Jose recently overturned a previous judgment that had absolved YouTube of any responsibility. According to Bloomberg, the court stated that YouTube cannot use a contentious communications statute to avoid liability for a fraud that exploited Wozniak’s popularity. This ruling allows Wozniak to continue his lawsuit against the video streaming platform and could potentially lead to changes in the federal law that protects platforms like YouTube from liability for user-posted content.

In 2020, Wozniak and 17 other notable individuals, including Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Michael Dell, filed a lawsuit against YouTube and its parent company, Google, after manipulated videos promoting a fake scam gained viral popularity on the platform. These videos featured additional text and images promising free Bitcoin and encouraged viewers to send their own Bitcoin to a specific address to receive double the amount. The recent appeals court verdict is seen as a significant win for Wozniak and the other plaintiffs. Previously, a judge ruled that YouTube and Google were protected from liability under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

The appeals court judges noted that popular YouTube channels are often hacked to promote scams, and they held Google and YouTube responsible for “materially contributing” to the scam by providing verification badges to hijacked channels. The platforms failed to remove these badges even when the channels started posting scam videos. In one case, a channel was even awarded a verification badge during the scam. The appeals court reasoned that because of these actions, companies like YouTube may not be protected by Section 230 immunity since they contributed to the scam by verifying the channels.

Joe Cotchett, Wozniak’s lawyer, emphasized that this verdict highlights the responsibility that social media platforms like Google and YouTube should take for their actions. He stated that they cannot use Section 230 as a complete shield for their conduct. This ruling raises important questions about the role and accountability of video streaming platforms in preventing and combatting fraud and scams.

Wozniak’s legal victory against YouTube is a significant development in the ongoing battle over online scamming and the liability of platforms that host user-generated content. It may potentially lead to changes in the federal law that currently protects platforms like YouTube from legal repercussions related to fraudulent content uploaded by users.

Brita Benefiel

Brita Benefiel

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