CALIFORNIA -- Free speech on the Internet got a boost in October when two City College of San Francisco professors dropped their libel complaint against a student whose Web site featured less-than-flattering descriptions of the professors' teaching ability and personal characteristics.
American Civil Liberties Union cooperating attorney Bernard Burk, representing defendant Ryan Lathouwers, called it a "major victory for free speech on the Internet -- and for student media everywhere."
Daniel Curzon-Brown, an English professor, filed the suit in October 1999 claiming that comments posted on Lathouwers' Web site defamed him. Physics instructor Jesse David Wall joined the suit in May.
Curzon-Brown said he decided to settle the suit after it became apparent to him that he did not have a winning case.
"The law protects the stuff on the Internet that it doesn't in all other places," he told The San Francisco Chronicle. "It allows libel and homophobic hate speech; it is open season on teachers."
The site, TeacherReview.com, allows CCSF students to post evaluations of their teachers for other students to use when registering for classes.