Is a Telephone Company Liable for Recorded Defamatory Message ?

In Anderson v. New York Tel. Co. (35 NY2d 746) the Court of Appeals had to decide whether a telephone company could be held liable as a publisher for a defamatory message recorded by a third party and made available to any member of the public dialing in. The Court of Appeals held that the telephone company was not a publisher since it did not participate in creating the message or control its distribution. The Court further held that even if deemed a publisher, a telephone company would be entitled to a qualified privilege excusing it from liability in the absence of malice or bad faith.