Under the Communications Decency Act, an individual who forwards a defamatory e-mail message is shielded from liability as long as the individual did not participate in the creation of the original message’s content. What was less clear, however, was whether the shield would still apply if the individual added his or her own introduction to the message. In a recent case before a California appeals court, the court held that merely adding an introduction to the message did not remove the CDA shield. In reaching its decision, the court noted that the defendant did not materially contribute to the message he sent (saying essentially only “see the message below” and “everything will come out in the end”).

TIP: Take care to avoid contributing to the creation of defamatory content.