Backpage.com, LLC v. Dart

Category: Mentions Bitcoin
Relevance: Not particularly relevant to cryptocurrency
Type: Court Case
Location: United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
Decided: November 30, 2015
Link to the decision: Backpage.com, LLC. v. Dart

Parties

Backpage.com, LLC – An online forum for classified ads sectioned by subject matter, including an adult section.

Dart – Thomas J. Dart, Sheriff of Cook County, IL, USA.

Dispute

On June 29, 2015, Sheriff Dart sought to cut off funding for Backpage by publishing a letter demanding that credit card companies (e.g. Visa and MasterCard) stop processing payments for advertisements purchased to be displayed on Backpage. Backpage sought a preliminary injunction to stop the Sheriff’s demand of the credit card companies. The district court judge conjectured that alternative payments, such as bitcoin, could be used to continue funding Backpage. The district court denied Backpage’s injunction and Backpage appealed.

Result

The district court decision on the preliminary injunction was reversed and the case was remanded to the lower court.

Sheriff Dart’s campaign was likely to cause irreparable harm to Backpage as well as violate the First Amendment. Sheriff Dart was free to criticize Backpage as a private citizen, but threatening credit card companies in an attempt to get the credit card companies to stop processing payments for advertisements purchased to be displayed on Backpage was effectively censoring speech.

Relevance to Cryptocurrency

The lower court suggested that Backpage.com could replace funding from advertisements with funding from bitcoin transactions. The appellate judge rejected this argument, insinuating that bitcoin was not a sufficient substitute.

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