The claimant sought damages in defamation against the defendant company offering internet search facilities. The words complained of had been published in a blog, and in comments published on the blog.
Held: Jurisdiction should be declined. Any claim would fail. An ISP which performs no more than a passive role in facilitating postings on the internet cannot be deemed to be a publisher at common law. A telephone company or other passive medium of communication, such as an ISP, is not analogous to someone in the position of a distributor, who might at common law be treated as having published so as to need a defence.
Eady J said: ‘Where the law is uncertain, in the face of rapidly developing technology, it is important that judges should strive to achieve consistency in their decisions and that proper regard should be paid, in doing so, to the values enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. In particular, one should guard against imposing legal liability in restraint of Article 10 where it is not necessary or proportionate so to do.’
and ‘It seems to me to be a significant factor in the evidence before me that Google Inc is not required to take any positive step, technically, in the process of continuing the accessibility of the offending material, whether it has been notified of a complainant’s objection or not. In those circumstances, I would be prepared to hold that it should not be regarded as a publisher, or even as one who authorises publication, under the established principles of the common law. As I understand the evidence its role, as a platform provider, is a purely passive one.’
 EWHC 449 (QB),  EMLR 24
Defamation Act 1996 81, European Convention on Human Rights 10, Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 19
England and Wales
Cited – Godfrey v Demon Internet Limited (2) QBD 23-Apr-1999
Evidence of Reputation Admissible but Limited
The plaintiff had brought an action for damages for defamation. The defendant wished to amend its defence to include allegations that the plaintiff had courted litigation by his action.
Held: A judge assessing damages should be able see the . .
Cited – Davison v Habeeb and Others QBD 25-Nov-2011
Parkes QC J recognised that ‘there is in my judgment an arguable case that [Google Inc] is the publisher of the material complained of, and that at least following notification it is liable for publication of that material’. . .
Cited – Clift v Clarke QBD 18-Feb-2011
The claimant sought disclosure of identities of posters to the defendant’s web-site.
Held: ‘In my view, the postings are clearly one or two-liners, in effect posted anonymously by random members of the public who do not purport, either by . .
Cited – Dow Jones and Co Inc v Jameel CA 3-Feb-2005
Presumption of Damage in Defamation is rebuttable
The defendant complained that the presumption in English law that the victim of a libel had suffered damage was incompatible with his right to a fair trial. They said the statements complained of were repetitions of statements made by US . .
Cited – Bunt v Tilley and others QBD 10-Mar-2006
The claimant sought damages in defamation in respect of statements made on internet bulletin boards. He pursued the operators of the bulletin boards, and the court now considered the liability of the Internet Service Providers whose systems had . .
Cited – Metropolitan International Schools Ltd (T/A Skillstrain And/Or Train2Game) v Designtechnica Corporation (T/A Digital Trends) and Others QBD 1-Oct-2010
The court set at andpound;50,000 the damages after a finding of defamation of the claimant training company for materials published by the defendant thorugh their web-site. An internet search engine was not liable in defamation because the mental . .
Cited – Al Amoudi v Brisard and Another QBD 12-May-2006
In the context of allegations of Internet publication there is no presumption that the words published were actually read, and no presumption that a reader who has read one article on a blog will have read all the other articles. The burden is on . .
Cited – Smith v ADVFN Plc and others QBD 25-Jul-2008
The claimant had brought multiple actions in defamation against anonymous posters on an online forum. The claimant sought to lift the stay which had been imposed because of the number of actions. The claimant had not yet paid outstanding costs . .
Cited – Metropolitan International Schools Ltd. (T/A Skillstrain And/Or Train2Game) v Designtechnica Corp (T/A Digital Trends) and Others QBD 16-Jul-2009
The claimant complained that the defendant had published on its internet forums comments by posters which were defamatory of it, and which were then made available by the second defendant search engine. The court was asked what responsibility a . .
Cited – L’Oreal SA, Lancome parfums et beaute and Cie, Laboratoire Garnier and Cie, L’Oreal (UK) Limited v eBay International AG, eBay Europe SARL, eBay (UK) Limited ECJ 12-Jul-2011
ECJ Grand Chamber – Trade marks – Internet – Offer for sale, on an online marketplace targeted at consumers in the European Union, of trade-marked goods intended, by the proprietor, for sale in third States – . .
Cited – Kaschke v Gray and Another QBD 29-Mar-2010
The defendant appealed against the refusal of the Master to strike out the claim in defamation in respect of a post by a third party on his unmoderated blog. The claimant said that the article accused her of an historic association with a terrorist . .
Appeal from – Tamiz v Google Inc CA 14-Feb-2013
The respondent hosted a blogs platform. One of its user’s blogs was said by the appellant to have been defamatory. On discovery the material had been removed quickly. The claimant now appealed against his claim being struck out. He argued as to: (1) . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Defamation, Human Rights, Media
Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.451795