Liability of Online Service Providers for Defamatory Content: The Case of Online Discussion Forums
130 Law Quarterly Review 206 (2014)
6 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2014
Date Written: March 25, 2014
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  EWCA Civ 68;  1 W.L.R. 2151; Davison v. Habeeb  EWHC 3031 (QB);  3 C.M.L.R. 6), newsgroups (Godfrey v. Demon Internet Ltd  Q.B. 201), search engines (Metropolitan International Schools Ltd v. Designtechnica Corp  EWHC 1765;  1 W.L.R. 1743), and mere conduits (Bunt v. Tilley  EWHC 407 (QB);  1 W.L.R. 1243). In Oriental Press Group Ltd v. Fevaworks Solutions Ltd  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
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