Feeds

Demon coughs up damages in Godfrey libel case

Pays price for uncivil liberties

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Demon Internet has agreed to pay £15,000 to a scientist after failing to remove defamatory postings on newsgroups it hosted.

The UK ISP will apologise to Dr Laurence Godfrey, as well as paying his legal costs, which could top £250,000. Add in its own legal fees and Demon is facing a bill of half a million smackers.

Dr Godfrey alleged Demon had failed to remove defamatory material on a newsgroup it hosted. It related to a message posted three years ago on soc.culture.thai, purporting to come from him and containing damaging allegations of a personal nature. A second posting contained defamatory comments about Dr. Godfrey.

Dr Godfrey told the BBC: "I am happy with the settlement. I don't think there is a right, in fact I'm quite sure there's no right, to libel other people on the Internet, to concoct fabricated allegations and try to destroy people's reputations."

The case, which hinged on whether Demon could be treated as a publisher of the material, will have repercussions on other ISPs who will see it as a gagging order. Most host newsgroups and fear they could be found liable for any content posted by their users.

Demon estimates that one million individual articles are posted in more than 35,000 active news groups each day. All well and good. But before we climb too high up the civil liberties flagpole, it is useful to recall just how incompetent Demon Internet was in dealing with Dr. Godfrey. He informed the company several times about the postings. Demon failed to respond. Now it is paying the price. ®

Demon Internet statement

Dr Laurence Godfrey vs Demon Internet (Thus plc) Thus today announces that it has reached an agreement with Dr Laurence Godfrey, which brings to a close the two cases he brought against its Internet Service Provider brand, Demon Internet. We can now draw a line under this issue and focus on serving our customers and building our business. Concluding this matter in a reasonable way is in the best interests of the company and its customers. Thus remains convinced that the law has not kept pace with the development of the Internet and will work with our colleagues in the industry to lobby for modernisation of the law. Thus will press the Government for recognition that ISPs should not be liable for the millions of items carried on the Internet every day. While we take our obligations very seriously, and act when informed of any defamatory or unsuitable material, it is contrary to common sense to make ISPs responsible for the millions of items carried on the Internet.

Related stories

Demon libel loss could cripple free speech Clarification: libel case author not libel case author UK court rules on ISP liability

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Bono apologises for iTunes album dump
Megalomania, generosity and FEAR of irrelevance drove group to Apple deal
HBO shocks US pay TV world: We're down with OTT. Netflix says, 'Gee'
This affects every broadcaster, every cable guy
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
SCREW YOU, EU: BBC rolls out Right To Remember as Google deletes links
Not even Google can withstand the power of Auntie
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.