Thursday, 3 April 2014

Internet defamation and EU law

Supreme court to hear internet defamation dispute - The Irish Times - Thu, Apr 03, 2014

I had blogged previously on the lack of clarity that surrounds the law on defamation on the internet in Ireland (and to a lesser extent in the UK), when lawyers for Angela Kerins rather remarkably threatened for speculating on what Ms. Kerins' salary is (information that was subsequently made public just a few weeks later).

According to today's Irish Times we may get some clarity on some of the issues, though given the backlog of cases awaiting hearing before the Supreme Court quite when that might be is still unclear.

The case is an appeal from the decision in McKeogh v Facebook & Ors. in which a student was incorrectly identified in a YouTube video as having failed to pay a taxi fare, and his name was bandied about on Facebook, YouTube and a number of different forums, in the process of which he was "seriously and nastily defamed" in the words of the trial judge.

(If you are getting a weird message below, ignore it and click where it says 'here' to read the judgment).

I mentioned in the original post that I was not aware of any Irish decisions that litigated the key issues, such as whether an ISP or web host is a publisher, and the extent to which Article 14 of the E-Commerce Directive provides them protection.  This case would appear to address these issues, but the appeal is against the interim injunctions that were put in place over two years ago (Irish 'justice' moves embarrassingly slowly), a full hearing of the issues being stayed until the appeals against the injunctive relief are heard.

Hopefully the Supreme Court will take the opportunity to lay down guidelines which can be applied if and when the substantive claim gets heard.

Nonetheless, any further clarification of the responsibilities and liabilities of web hosts and bloggers with regard to potentially defamatory material is to be welcomed.

The sooner this case gets a hearing the better.

1 comment:

George E. Bourguignon, Jr. Attorney at Law said...

Very interesting issues being decided in this EU case.