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Clara.net boss blasts 'ridiculous' publishing laws

'Tube geek' case exasperation

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Clara.net managing director Steve Rawlinson has branded existing laws which hold ISPs responsible for content they host as "ridiculous". Speaking to the Register about the case of "Tube geek" Geoff Marshall's blog - hosted by Clara.net and the subject of legal wranglings with Transport for London - Rawlinson reluctantly advised people to "host their sites outside the UK".

Rawlinson said companies were increasingly going after ISPs rather than individuals who publish content they do not like. Rawlinson said: "It is plainly ridiculous. We are held responsible but we cannot make a qualified legal decision on every complaint we receive. We have three staff looking at complaints. I'd like to see customers responsible for what they publish - and I think they would like that too."

He said: "As the law stands all I can do is advise people to host their sites outside the UK - and you can imagine how much I enjoy that."

Rawlinson said the problem was getting worse. He cited a case of two old ladies who both had websites selling budgerigars - each accused the other of stealing bits of content and eventually both their ISPs removed the sites.

Marshall was warned that some material on his website was copyrighted. He was also told to stop linking to other sites which allegedly contained copyright material.

Rawlinson said the case for linking to defamatory material came from the 1890s when a man in a dispute with a shop stood in the street outside and pointed up at a sign which was defamatory. Although it was never proved if he made the sign, he was found guilty by reason of pointing at it. He was unaware of it being used to go after copyrighted material.

Marshall's main complaint is that Transport for London's own website contains links to sites which contain copyright images very similar to those which were on Marshall's site.

We still haven't heard back from Transport for London.

Marshall's website is here.®

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