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Showing posts with label defamation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label defamation. Show all posts

Telstra ordered to help identify critic of doctor

Posting anonymous reviews to defame someone is risky.

Telstra has been ordered to provide documents to a doctor so that the doctor can assist identify someone who supposedly defamed him.

See this recent Federal Court decision:  Colagrande v Telstra Corporation Limited [2020] FCA 1595

Telstra did not appear at this court hearing.

This is similar to this case against Google:  http://www.cyberspac.com/2020/03/google-sued-again-for-identity-of-users.html and also these cases:

Kukulka v Google LLC [2020] FCA 1229

Kabbabe v Google LLC [2020] FCA 126 

Titan Enterprises (Qld) Pty Ltd v Cross [2016] FCA 1241 (patent attorney ordered to hand over file)

Titan Enterprises (Qld) Pty Ltd v Cross [2016] FCA 890 (written by Justice Edelman, now on the High Court)


Defamation for Facebook posts

A wedding planner has won a 'landmark' court case against consumers who made defamatory comments about her business on social media.

Tristan Moy, 33, from Brisbane, moved to Indonesia in 2014 to run a business arranging weddings in Bali for Australian tourists. 

But she suffered 'hurt and humiliation' when two Australian women began posting salacious comments about her and her business on Facebook in 2017.

They included accusations Ms Moy was unprofessional, bullied her clients and would try ruin her client's weddings.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8948725/Two-trolls-ordered-pay-150k-defamatory-comments-Facebook.html

See also this old Fordham article

Newspaper head to High Court regarding liability for users' Facebook comments

The newspapers are appealing the decision of the NSW Court of Appeal that decided that media companies can be held responsible for defamatory comments under stories they post on Facebook.

Guardian Article, and discussion of appeal here.   The newspapers are appealing to the High Court.

The Court of Appeal decision is not surprising.  Compare prior cases:

http://www.cyberspac.com/2012/07/smirnoff-responsible-for-comments-of.html

https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/firm-fined-for-testimonials-by-facebook-fans-and-tweeters

Defamation By Liking

STOLTENBERG V BOLTON; LODER V BOLTON [2020] NSWCA 45 (20 MARCH 2020) (MACFARLAN JA AT [1], GLEESON JA AT [2], BRERETON JA AT [250])

The New South Wales Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal in respect of a first instance decision of the Supreme Court that found a series of posts and comments about the former Mayor of the Narrabri Shire Council made on a Facebook page were defamatory. 

The trial judge found that a comment endorsing a defamatory post was sufficient to attract liability as a secondary publisher of the defamatory post. 

On Appeal, the court agreed that the principles of secondary publication are well established, and refused leave to appeal.

Google liable for defamation based on search results

A recent Australian case concerning defamation and Google:
Defteros v Google LLC [2020] VSC 219 (30 April 2020)
http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/vic/VSC//2020/219.html

"Google submitted that it could not be liable as a secondary publisher, because its search engine is fully automated and does not intend the communication of any particular words or images, including any third party webpage to which a user might navigate. I do not accept this submission....
As the law stands in Australia, the common law casts the publication net wide. The liability of publishers is then limited by a range of common law and statutory defences. In particular, the common law ‘defence’ of innocent dissemination operates to limit the potential liability of search engine providers. Later in this judgment, I also consider the application of the statutory defence of qualified privilege to Google search results."

Google may be liable for defamation for search engine results

Today, the High Court of Australia decided that Google must go to trial to determine whether Google is liable for defamation regarding its display of search engine results and also in respect of Google's autocomplete function.

See KWM article Google this: The High Court allows Google to be sued for defamation

See Sydney Morning Herald article

See HCA judgment Trkulja v Google LLC [2018] HCA 25

Google Found Responsible for Defamation

The South Australian Full Court decided against Google Inc. in the recent case of Google v. Duffy.  See http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/sa/SASCFC/2017/130.html

Google's search results included defamatory material.  Google was found to be a secondary publisher.

Case note here.

The Advocate Defames The Bank on Social Media


Michael Fraser, who goes under the name of The Advocate, operates a number of complaints-based websites, such as http://openadvicereview.com.au.  He had a big loss in court, in a defamation case brought by Commonwealth Bank.  See AFR story.

Redlands Council Threatens Lawsuit against Facebook Posters

See Brisbane Times

"Redland City Council has sought to shut down online criticism by sending threatening legal letters to residents over comments made on social media.

Five residents have received the legal threats in the past week over Facebook posts that suggested, among other things, that political donations from developers had swayed council decisions."

Defamation and the liability of search engine providers

The following Supreme Court of NSW decision was delivered last week by McCallum J: Bleyer v Google Inc [2014] NSWSC 897 http://www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au/action/PJUDG?jgmtid=172529.

Her Honour expressly declined to follow Beach J in Trkulja v Google, and preferred the English line of cases. This was not a final decision on the merits (consideration was in the context of a permanent stay application, given low prospects of success), however the reasoning in this case is likely to be given significant weight in any future consideration of these issues. Her Honour does leave open the question, however, of whether liability may arise once notification of a complaint is received by the search engine provider.

An extract:

[83]  The evidence before me establishes that there is no human input in the application of the Google search engine apart from the creation of the algorithm. I would respectfully disagree with the conclusion reached by Beach J in Trkulja that the performance of the function of the algorithm in that circumstance is capable of establishing liability as a publisher at common law. I would adopt the English line of authority to the effect that, at least prior to notification of a complaint (and on the strength of the evidence before me), Google Inc cannot be liable as a publisher of the results produced by its search engine.

Lawsuit over bad Yelp review

See this story regarding a lawsuit by a builder against his customer who posted a bad review on Yelp.

The article includes the following:

For a while, online reviewers have been free to say whatever they like about businesses without much in the way of fact-checking by the review websites that host their comments.
And because review sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp and Angie’s List often refuse to remove negative reviews without a court injunction, many businesses resort to responding to reviewers personally through the sites.
But others, like Deitz, have decided to cut out the middle man and lawyer up — no doubt because sites like Yelp are exerting increasing influence over consumers' buying decisions, from which plumber to hire to fix a leaky toilet to which spa to patronise to get a massage.
Thanks to their efforts, anonymity as an online reviewer may be a thing of the past.
In a major win for business owners in the US, a Virginia appeals court ruled earlier this month that Yelp must reveal the identities of seven users who wrote negative reviews of a local carpet cleaning business.
In that case, the customers weren't actually patrons of the shop, business owner claimed, which made their reviews false statements rather than opinions protected by the First Amendment. Yelp wasn't happy about the ruling, but they forked over the names anyway.

Google and Defamation and Jursidiction

Google Australia has a defamation case against it tossed out, on the basis that it is Google Inc. that is operating the search engine and Blogger.

See SMH

Google Australia does not control the Google search engine

Google Australia Pty Ltd does not like being sued in Australia.  In a recent Australian lawsuit, Google said:

  • Google Australia is a wholly owned subsidiary of Google International LLC and Google Inc is the ultimate holding company 
  • Google Australia is not authorised to, and has no ability to, control or direct the conduct of Google Inc and is not responsible for the day-to-day operations of Google Inc 
  • Google Inc owns and operates the domains google.com.au and google.com. The search engines at the domains mentioned are exclusively provided by, operated by, and controlled by Google Inc 
  • Google Australia does not have any ability to control or direct action in respect of blocking URLs from google.com.au

The Australian court found: "There is no reasonable prospect of Mr Rana proving that Google Australia owns the domains in question, or that it has the ability to control or direct the conduct of Google Inc."  Thus, the claims against Google Australia were dismissed.

The Court also stated:
"In short, whether or not a search engine could be considered a publisher of defamatory material is not settled in Australia, and accordingly, it would not be appropriate to refuse to give leave to serve the proceedings and on that basis effectively dismiss Mr Rana’s claim against Google Inc: A v Google New Zealand Ltd"

See Rana v Google Australia Pty Ltd [2013] FCA 60 

Google Liable for Defamation Based on Search Results

In a jury trial in Melbourne, Google was found to have defamed a Melbourne man by placing his photo next to underworld figures.

See SMH and WebProNews and IBT

Google Sued in New Zealand, and wins

Google NZ was sued for defamation.  The lawsuit was dismissed on summary judgment, because it was decided that the Google NZ entity was not carrying on business in New Zealand and had no control over the search engine.  The court left open the question of whether Google is responsible for defamatory material that it produces from its search engine.
See NZ Court Decision (A v. Google New Zealand Ltd) and comment.

Week 3 - Internet Jurisdiction

The next class is Internet jurisdiction. 
Presentation from class is here.
Please read the following:
The relevant chapter in the assigned class text.





Sliding Scale Test:

Zippo case

Effects Test:

Calder v. Jones (US Supreme Court)

Application of Effects Test:


Weather Underground case (and complete court file for this case if interested)

Penguin Group v. American Buddha


Australian approach:

Dow Jones v. Gutnick (High Court of Australia)

[Defamation - including Internet cases - background information if interested]


What happens if the Defendant does not show up?

Bell v Steele (No 2) [2012] FCA 62 (7 February 2012) - a case that involves a film made in NY and Australia by Richard Bell from Brisbane, that was uploaded to Vimeo from Australia, and where a person in NY had the film removed from Vimeo.


Could two courts come to an inconsistent result in the same case?
See The Secret litigation:
Background: The Australian


  • Australian Trial Judge Decision
  • Full Court of Federal Court Decision
  • Note regarding US decision on jurisdiction
  • Twitter Being Sued For Defamation

    Twitter is being sued for defamation by a Melbourne man, Joshua Meggitt, who was wrongly identified as the author of a “hate blog”.
    See story here and SMH.

    Hyperlinking to articles not publication for defamation

    An interesting case concerning defamation on the Internet: see the Supreme Court of Canada decision, Crookes v Newton, 2011 SCC 47.

    The defendant operated a website offering commentary on various issues. An comment included hyperlinks to two other pages, both of which contained articles that the defendant conceded were defamatory.

    One hyperlink was "shallow," in that it referred to a web page on which the defamatory article was one of several articles posted there.

    Another was "deep," in that clicking on the link led a viewer directly to the article.

    For different reasons, all judges decided that this hyperlinking was not a "publication" for Canadian defamation law.

    Throwing the Book at Facebook

    See this article in the Business Spectator.

    "Companies and individuals are increasingly beginning to query why they should simply wear slanderous online comments that they wouldn't hesitate to take legal action against if it appeared on the printed page. From the heady early days when the internet was seen as a beast too wild to be tamed by the law, there is growing debate as to whether and how the web should be regulated.


    In the past few weeks, we have seen a series of legal issues arise in relation to comments on the internet – particularly on Facebook.

    In one case, $30,000 in damages was rewarded in response to defamatory comments by a man using various pseudonyms on a stock market forum. We have also seen an Indonesian man currently face jail time for insulting his music mentor on Facebook. ..."

    See also - Facebook Ads article

    Can Google commit libel?

    MediaBistro's Tool Box asks "Can Google commit libel?"

    The question is asked following an article in The Times reporting that Google has been asked by Premiership footballer Ashley Cole's solicitors to explain why his name has been linked to the word “gay” in internet search results.

    Read more here and here.

    New Californian Privacy Law: CPRA to effectively replace CCPA

    On U.S. Election Day, 3 November 2020, voters in the State of California overwhelmingly voted in favour of Proposition 24—a ballot measure t...