Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Attention all bloggers/chat room users:
"A Woman who posted false sexual allegations against a UKIP parliamentary candidate on the internet has become the first person in a British chat room to be successfully sued for libel...

"In a potentially significant ruling for public figures fighting libellous websites, Judge Alistair MacDuff, QC, said: 'The published statements, upon which reliance is placed, are clearly seriously defamatory. These statements have been made to a restricted audience and it is likely that few people have read these statements. But they were available to the whole world, or at least to the part of the world that has access to a computer and knows how to go on the internet.'"
Update: Of course, though the damages were steep at £10,000, this does set a precedent that bloggers can't be prosecuted for libellous comments posted on their sites, and that webhosts can now pass the buck onto the people whose sites they are hosting, which at least clears up one bit of confusion and hopefully should mean that ISPs can no longer be pressured into shutting down sites accused of libel. This could actually be a good thing, considering how uncertain web-based libel has been to date...

Update 2: An alternative knee-jerk reaction.

2 Comments:

Blogger MatGB said...

Yeah, the commenter was done. As I've no plans to defame someone, we're good.

Doesn't actually define what type of discussion 'site' it was; looks like a typical yahoogroup/mailing list though.

Like that it's the person who said it that matters, that's good.

3/23/2006 12:59:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Net bloggeres needn't be too worried, Nothing has changed as far as the defendent web site is concerned:

http://www.lvl9.org/

and from what she is saying on there she doesn't have to pay Michael Keith-Smith a penny of either the costs or the award. If you're going to sue someone that is anonymous for alleged libel I advise you try and discover their financial backgroud, otherwise it can be very costly indeed. The case should have been thrown oput anyway as Mr. Smith was the moderator of the Yahoo group where the alleged libelt ook place so he doesn't deserve a penny anyway. Poetic justice

5/08/2006 04:04:00 pm  

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