Internet defamation law


Defamation laws make it possible to prevent or sue a person for making untrue statements that are injurious to a person’s or a business’s reputation. We have probably all heard of defamation claims being made for publications made by magazines, newspapers, books and other written means. We may also have heard of defamation claims being made for statements made on radio or at other public events. However, what you may not be aware of is that, under internet defamation law, you can also be liable for statements made via the internet.

Statements on the internet may potentially fall under either libel or slander provisions, depending on the permanence or transience of the statement (slander concerns transient statements; libel concerns permanent statements). In this way it is possible that statements on websites, and statements in email, chat rooms or bulletin boards, may be defamatory under UK internet defamation law. In such cases, defamation laws will be applied in the same manner as for other types of communications.  For slander claims an additional element applies which is that loss or damage must have resulted from the making of the statement.

Perhaps the most creative aspect of UK internet defamation law is that relating to liability attaching to ISPs. Under internet defamation law an ISP provider may be liable for defamatory statements made by other people in certain circumstances. In these circumstances it is possible to say that the ISP provider was responsible for the defamation because it hosted the posting. More contentious are circumstances where the ISP only cached or carried the statements.

As a consequence of these legal developments in internet defamation law, The Electronic Commerce Regulations 2002 introduced provisions which set out when internet intermediaries should not be held accountable for such material. For example, the ISP may not be liable where it did not initiate the transmission, nor select the recipient, nor modify the transmission.

If you would like to obtain legal advice on internet defamation law, Caven can put you in touch with local specialist defamation solicitors free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local specialist defamation solicitors please call us on 08001 221 2299 or complete the web-form above.

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