UK Court rules on ISP liability

Demon told to intervene in bulletin board postings

Demon Internet has been ordered to remove derogatory remarks about a libelled UK scientist from a newsgroup bulletin board. This is the latest development in the on-going case between Laurence Godfrey and Demon, according to today’s Daily Telegraph. It has come to be seen as a landmark case in the UK. "This is the only case that we've got regarding the scope of ISPs' responsibilities," said Jonathon Little, a partner at London law firm Kemp & Co. Godfrey started his legal battle after Demon failed to remove forged messages related to him on soc.culture.thai in 1995. This March, Demon was subject to a ruling that ISPs could be held liable for any content posted on the Internet. Demon said it would appeal, claiming the ruling could cripple "freedom of expression and electronic trading." Then last month it dropped the intended appeal, saying it was waiting for new legislation to come into effect in the UK. The delayed ecommerce bill is being drafted at the moment - Demon has submitted its own comments on content liability. Demon is pressing for the inclusion of proposals from the draft EU directive on ecommerce, which protects intermediaries against liability. In Little's opinion, this new legislation will give some order to the as yet largely uncharted territory. "The Demon case was the first one to directly hit this issue. "Part of the danger is that people look at America and think that things will be the same in the UK," he said. Demon's liability for libel will be decided later this year. ®

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