Blog posts by legal area: defamation law

The website operator defence: will it really make a difference?

Website operators facing defamation action over users’ posts can now rely on the new ‘website operator’ defence.  To use the defence, the operator must comply with a prescribed process after receiving a notice of complaint about allegedly defamatory material posted online. 

The defence follows increasing concerns about defamatory digital content posted by website users – particularly anonymous users.  But a critical question is, just how useful and cost effective will the new defence be in practice?

What’s new?

Troll hunting: forum abuse and the law

A troll is defined in the Urban Dictionary as "one who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument". The etymology seems to be disputed. My preferred explanation is that the usage comes - via the Usenet group alt.folklore.urban - from fishing, where trolling is the practice of trailing a baited line behind a moving boat, as in "trolling for mackerel".

10 things you should know about ... libel

Webmasters need to know about the law of defamation, because material published on a website can give rise to claims of defamation. Even material published by others on your website can cause problems. This short article explains the key points of the law. It covers the basic question of what is defamatory, the old distinction between libel and slander, the idea of "publication", the question of whether you can defame a company, and much else besides. Learn how to avoid being sued for defamation, and find out whether others' publications about you may be actionable.

Section 1 of the Defamation Act 1996

User-generated content can be a real headache for website operators. One particular risk associated with such content is defamation; however there is a special defence to libel actions which may assist a website operator who is accused of publishing defamatory content submitted by users.

Dealing with defamatory posts on your website forum or blog

One of the many legal risks facing you as a web publisher comes from the law of libel: as publisher, you may be liable not only for your own writings, but also for the defamatory comments that users make on your website.

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