Demon Internet has vowed to keep fighting its libel case against Laurence Godfrey, but will now focus its defence on the specific's of the case and not the issue of what an ISP is accountable for.
In a pre-trial hearing in March, a judge ruled that the ISP couldn't use the defence of "innocent distribution" within the Defamation Act in its case. This caused outcry from those in the Internet industry that felt it would harm the market if ISPs were treated as if they were publishers of content. see Newswire 26 March
Demon had until this week to appeal against this point, but decided not to following an amendment to the case at a second hearing in April recognising that Godfrey's conduct in the matter were "puerile, unseemly and provocative."
This amendment means Demon can base its defence on the actual characteristics of the Godfrey case and not contest the issue of free speech and the liability of an ISP, explained David Furniss, director of Internet services at Scottish Telecom, owner of Demon.
For example it will call into question why Godfrey took over a year to issue a writ against Demon after the alleged posting, how and when the company was notified of the offending material and the fact that he wasn't even a Demon customer at the time of the alleged incident.
Demon now believes the issue of whether it can be held liable for content on its service will best be served by the new Ecommerce Bill as it will provide a framework for online legislation, overtaking the current Defamation Act and any view that relates to the initial ruling, explained Furniss.
The ISP will urge the government to include draft EU legislation which gives protection to intermediaries against liability in the Ecommerce Bill.
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