Liability of Online Service Providers for Defamatory Content: The Case of Online Discussion Forums

6 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2014

See all articles by Kelvin Hiu Fai Kwok

Kelvin Hiu Fai Kwok

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law

Date Written: March 25, 2014

Abstract

A perplexing, contemporary issue in libel law is whether online service providers (OSPs) should be held responsible for defamatory content published by Internet users using their services. The English courts have previously wrestled with this issue in the context of weblogs (Tamiz v. Google [2013] EWCA Civ 68; [2013] 1 W.L.R. 2151; Davison v. Habeeb [2011] EWHC 3031 (QB); [2012] 3 C.M.L.R. 6), newsgroups (Godfrey v. Demon Internet Ltd [2001] Q.B. 201), search engines (Metropolitan International Schools Ltd v. Designtechnica Corp [2009] EWHC 1765; [2011] 1 W.L.R. 1743), and mere conduits (Bunt v. Tilley [2006] EWHC 407 (QB); [2007] 1 W.L.R. 1243). In Oriental Press Group Ltd v. Fevaworks Solutions Ltd [2013] HKEC 1025, the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal (HKCFA), perhaps for the first time in the common law world, addressed this question in the setting of online discussion forums. This paper critically analyses the reasoning of the HKCFA in Oriental Press Group.

Keywords: defamation, libel, publication, defence, defense, innocent dissemination, innocent disseminator, subordinate distributor, subordinate publisher, forum, online forum, discussion forum, online service provider, Internet service provider, innocent dissemination, Oriental Press, Fevaworks, Hong Kong

Suggested Citation

Kwok, Kelvin Hiu Fai, Liability of Online Service Providers for Defamatory Content: The Case of Online Discussion Forums (March 25, 2014). 130 Law Quarterly Review 206 (2014), University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2014/011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2420688

Kelvin Hiu Fai Kwok (Contact Author)

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
China

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