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Can forum owners be sued for their members comments?


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As per the title really, I'd really like your thoughts on this.

 

Discuss ;)

 

this wouldn't by any chance have to do with a thread that was 'closed' on here recently would it?

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no, it's just a discussion I'm currently having on a photography forum. Is that ok Shane?

 

Obviously the comments would have to be libellous in the first place, but we're debating whom would get sued, the site owners, or the members. There is evidence to support both, so I'm trying to find out further information.

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hiya,

 

sorry if i caused any offence I apologize, just get annoyed when 'certain' members try and attack the forum, legal threats etc etc

 

More than happy to debate the subject though:)

 

kind regards,

shane

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thanks Shane. I've been reading and it looks like there is evidence to support both sides of the argument! Nothing easy is there :rolleyes:

 

Forum rules will warn of this so I guess the buck is passed onto the members.

 

Other than an IP address everybody is anonymous.

 

Unless, like me, people use their real name!

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I guess it would depend on the nature of the comments by the member. Also most forums have site helpers and moderators to ensure any the comments are are clean, in good faith etc etc

 

regards,

shane

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Theoretically, yes, however...

 

1. Libel actions are triable only in the high court, by JURY if the defendant requests it.

2. libel actions routinly costs £250,000

3. even if you win, the kinds of damages you could claim for forum posts, where there is no identification whatsoever of you, or the person making the claim (such as on this web site) the damages are very likely to be nominal.

 

With nominal judgements you are unlikely to recieve anywhere like your entire costs.

 

in other words, it's quite a regular occurance that people go bankrupt as a result of winning a libel action.

i will be off site for the next month or so. if you have any problems, feel free to report the post so a moderator can help you.

 

I am not a qualified or practicing lawyer.

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In the case of this site, it is a limited company, and so you would need to sue that company, not the owners of the company.

i will be off site for the next month or so. if you have any problems, feel free to report the post so a moderator can help you.

 

I am not a qualified or practicing lawyer.

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It's actually fairly complicated.

 

A website can get held jointly responsible if they allow a libellous comment to stay up after they have been made aware of the libel. Most famous case was a mother-and-child forum where they were lambasting a fairly well-known education expert by name.

 

That is the clue, really. We recently had someone here (not the one you and Shane were talking about) who threatened to sue CAG for some comment made by someone else... That would have been difficult in real terms, as he uses a nick and his location is vague. In order to prove libel, and implicate the forum, he would have had to prove that he was who he said he was, and that people could have identified him before even attempting to prove the libel part.

 

Generally speaking, however, if the website owners can be found to have known of the libel and not taken steps to prevent/remove it, then they can be held jointly liable.

 

I'll see if I can find you a link to the case I am talking about to help clarify things.

 

Edit: there it is -

Mumsnet settles with Gina Ford over defamation claims | The Register

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Theoretically, yes, however...

 

1. Libel actions are triable only in the high court, by JURY if the defendant requests it.

2. libel actions routinly costs £250,000

3. even if you win, the kinds of damages you could claim for forum posts, where there is no identification whatsoever of you, or the person making the claim (such as on this web site) the damages are very likely to be nominal.

 

With nominal judgements you are unlikely to recieve anywhere like your entire costs.

 

in other words, it's quite a regular occurance that people go bankrupt as a result of winning a libel action.

 

A la Ken Barlow for being described boring.

 

He won but was awarded something silly but no costs awarded so he was left out of pocket with a hefty bill.

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